Following years of controversy over the blurred line between fiction and reality, Netflix has finally added a disclaimer to its marketing for its hit series, The Crown. In what appears to be a retreat by the streaming giant, the move comes after recent pressure from the likes of Dame Judi Dench.
Having previously insisted it had “no plans” to add a disclaimer to the show, Netflix has now added a disclaimer for the trailer for the upcoming series on its YouTube site, stating: “This fictional dramatisation, inspired by true events, depicts the narrative of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.”
In addition to the disclaimer on Youtube, it also appears the official Twitter account for The Crown has also been updated with the same disclaimer. The series’ trailer, which debuted on YouTube on Thursday (October 20), features Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana sitting down for her infamous 1995 Panorama interview with former BBC journalist Martin Bashir while announcing, "I won’t go quietly."
But the recent Netflix series, which premiers on November 9, has drawn a backlash over its consistent refusal to carry a disclaimer. Actress Dame Judi Dench, who portrayed Queen Victoria and Elizabeth I in the 2017 historical drama Victoria & Abdul, and in 1997’s Mrs Brown, also backed the calls for the company to include a disclaimer while accusing the programme of being “cruelly unjust”.
‘Damaging to the monarchy institution’
In a letter to The Times, Dench said the Netflix hit “seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism” the closer the drama comes to the present day. She goes on to express her concern that “a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true”.
“Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalised drama’, the programme-makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode … the time has come for Netflix to reconsider,” she said, adding “some of the wounding suggestions” apparently contained in the new series that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, was “cruelly unjust” to the individuals and damaging to the monarchy institution.
Former prime minister Sir John Major also criticised Netflix, saying that a scene which portrays a plot to oust Elizabeth II was “a barrel-load of malicious nonsense.” In a statement released to the Mail, he said: “Sir John has not cooperated in any way with The Crown. Nor has he ever been approached by them to factcheck any script material in this or any other series.
“As you will know, discussions between the monarch and prime minister are entirely private and – for Sir John – will always remain so. But not one of the scenes you depict are accurate in any way whatsoever. They are fiction, pure and simple.”
In response to Major’s comments, a spokesperson for The Crown said: “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events. Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family – one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”
Who is in series five of The Crown?
The new series will focus on the early 1990s and cover the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the transition to Sir John Major. The series will also cover the separation of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. It will be released onto Netflix on November 9.
The casting for the new series has been officially revealed by Netflix and will see Imelda Staunton become the third actor to portray Queen Elizabeth II following on from Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman. Here are some of the big casting changes coming to the new series.
- Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana
- Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II
- Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret
- Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip
- Dominic West as Prince Charles
- Jonny Lee Miller as Sir John Major