The Australian Monarchist League has called on audiences to stop watching The Crown and boycott Netflix if the streamer “does not act to correct the record” and add a disclaimer to episodes of the drama to address purported “falsehoods and inaccuracies” about the royal family.
The streaming service added a disclaimer to the trailer for the drama’s fifth season last week, following growing criticism about the show’s accuracy, including from the likes of former UK prime ministers Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major, as well as actor Dame Judi Dench.
Dench wrote a letter to the UK’s Times newspaper, stating that the show “seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism” and accused Netflix of misleading viewers by failing to warn that it is not “wholly true”, calling on the steaming service to add disclaimers to episodes.
While a disclaimer was subsequently added to the season five trailer, stating that the show is a “fictional dramatisation” and “inspired by real events”, Netflix has yet to add disclaimers to any episodes.
The AML chairman, Philip Benwell, said that while the league had not endorsed the show previously, it was calling on “monarchists and right-minded people” to boycott both the show and Netflix if “falsehoods and inaccuracies” were not more strongly acknowledged.
“It is one thing to create a clearly fictitious narrative such as Robin Hood, but quite another to purposefully build a series including falsehoods and inaccuracies about people still living,” Benwell said.
He said the disclaimer on the trailer was “inadequate”.
“Many people who watch historical series do so believing them to be a true depiction of events and a sort of semi-documentary, which undeniably many are,” he said. “These unsuspecting people, unaware of the true situation, will undoubtedly take the falsehoods and inaccuracies contained in The Crown to be genuine.
“It is also disgraceful that Netflix is airing their new series two months after the death of the Queen and just over six months from the coronation of the King about whom the series contains falsehoods.”
Of particular concern to the AML was a scene in the upcoming season in which King Charles, then the prince of Wales, meets with Major to discuss ousting his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Major has been outspoken in his displeasure about the scene, writing most recently to the UK’s Daily Telegraph: “Fiction should not be paraded as fact.”
Benwell said: “Even before Sir John issued a statement saying that that fictitious conversation was ‘a barrel-load of malicious nonsense’, it is fundamentally clear that Prince Charles would never have spoken about the Queen abdicating because he of all people knew that because of the oath her majesty swore at her coronation, she would never abdicate as the commitment she gave was for life.”
Charles, portrayed by Dominic West, is also reportedly shown trying to recruit Blair as an ally to protect his future and pave the way for him to marry Camilla, shortly after the 1997 general election. A spokesperson for Blair has called it “complete and utter rubbish”.
However, actor Claudia Harrison, who portrays Princess Anne in the fifth season of the Netflix hit, has said disclaimers would “patronise the audiences worldwide, and to think people are genuinely sitting down thinking this is a documentary and that everything they see is fact, I feel uncomfortable with that … Patronise an audience at your peril.”
As an actor, she was “incredibly uncomfortable” with the idea of putting disclaimers on art, she added.
At the season five premiere in London on Tuesday night, Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos called The Crown a “dramatisation”.
The new season launches on 9 November around the world.
Netflix has been approached for comment.