The Controversy Around Netflix’s The Crown Season Five, Explained

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The fifth season of Netflix’s hit series The Crown will be released on November 9.

Why we care: The latest season covers the breakdown of King Charles and Diana’s marriage and is reportedly full of historical inaccuracies that could mislead viewers.

The release could not be worse timing for the royal family. Charles has been King for less than two months and there are fears the show’s storylines could damage his reputation.

The Facts:

  • The new season of The Crown was written before Queen Elizabeth’s death on September 8.
  • The show’s rumored fictitious storylines include Charles trying to depose his mother and Prince Philip pursuing an affair with his close friend, Penny Knatchbull.
  • It will also dramatize Charles’ “tampongate’ phone call with Camilla (now Queen Consort) and recreate Diana’s “deceitful” BBC Panorama interview in 1995 which Prince William says “should never be aired again.”
  • Former Prime Minister John Major (who is played by Johnny Lee Miller) condemned the storyline depicting him and Charles attempting to remove the Queen as “malicious nonsense” and called for a boycott of the show. Dame Judi Dench also slammed the series in an open letter to The Times of London.
  • Following the backlash, Netflix was forced to add a disclaimer to The Crown’s trailer, saying the show is a “fictional dramatization,” and “inspired by real-life events.”

The Grand Scheme of Things: The Crown may be a fictional drama, but no other show has had such a profound impact on the public’s views of the royal family.

  • The Crown did humanize the royal family for a huge, global audience (although critics have called out more recent seasons for being more “anti-monarchy.”)
  • After the Queen’s death, The Crown’s viewership rose more than 800% in the UK between September 9-11. In the US, viewership more than quadrupled during this timeframe.
  • According to a recent YouGov poll, British support for Charles has increased since he lost his mother and there is growing public confidence in his future as King.
  • The series is returning during a time of monarchial transition. This series will depicts the lowest points in terms of Charles’ popularity during the 1990s and there are concerns it will revive those public memories.

The Future: This is the first of several challenges looming ahead for Charles that threaten to portray him in a negative light. His son Prince Harry’s allegedly explosive 415-page memoir Spare will be published on January 10. There is also the release of Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s upcoming Netflix documentary to worry about.

Another opinion: Maybe Charles has nothing to panic about with The Crown — because he is being played by Dominic West.