The Crown does a ‘hatchet job’ of portraying Prince Charles and Princess Diana, says ex-royal press secretary

Annabel Nugent
·2-min read
 (Des Willie/Netflix)
(Des Willie/Netflix)

Netflix’s The Crown has been called out for “stretching dramatic license to the extreme” by an ex-royal press secretary.

Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter claims that the hit drama has done a “hatchet job” in its portrayal of key members of the royal family.

“It’s a hatchet job on Prince Charles and a bit of a hatchet job on Diana,” Arbiter told the BBC. “You have to ask, is it necessary?”

The fourth series of The Crown – which debuted over the weekend – chronicles the time between 1977 and 1990, covering Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles.

Emma Corrin stars as Lady Diana Spencer opposite Josh O’Connor, who portrays Prince Charles.

<p>Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor as Princess Diana and Prince Charles</p>Des Willie/Netflix

Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor as Princess Diana and Prince Charles

Des Willie/Netflix

Arbiter’s comments echo those of royal biographer Ingrid Seward, who recently called the show’s depiction of Prince Philip “all wrong”.

Seward referenced season two’s “rubbish” storyline that suggested the prince (then played by Matt Smith) had an affair with a ballerina.

In the wake of its fourth series’ release, The Crown has found itself under scrutiny for featuring “fabricated” scenes.

One scene that has attracted particular criticism sees Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) writing a letter to Prince Charles (O’Connor) condemning his courtship of Camilla Parker Bowles, who was then married to Andrew Parker Bowles.

The letter, which Charles reads following Mountbatten’s assassination by the IRA in 1979, warns that he will bring “ruin and disappointment” to the royal family, should he continue to pursue Camilla. However, no record of any such letter exists.

The show’s creator Peter Morgan addressed the plotline on the official The Crown podcast. He claimed that although the letter was his own fabrication, the interpersonal relationships on the show were rooted in well-researched truth.

The Crown is currently available to stream on Netflix. A dissection of the show’s historical accuracy can be found here.

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