The newest season of Netflix’s “The Crown” hasn’t premiered yet, but it’s already getting a lot of criticism for the portrayal of King Charles and his messy divorce from Princess Diana.
“I think we must all accept that the 1990s was a difficult time for the royal family, and King Charles will almost certainly have some painful memories of that period,” creator Peter Morgan told Variety.
“But that doesn’t mean that, with the benefit of hindsight, history will be unkind to him, or the monarchy,” he continued. “The show certainly isn’t. I have enormous sympathy for a man in his position – indeed, a family in their position. People are more understanding and compassionate than we expect sometimes.”
Actress Emma Debicki, who plays Diana in season 5, agreed that the show is thoughtful rather than gratuitous. “Peter and the entire crew of this job do their utmost to really handle everything with such sensitivity and truth and complexity, as do actors,” she said.
“The amount of research and care and conversations and dialogue that happen over, from a viewer’s perspective, something probably that you would never ever notice is just immense. From that very first meeting [with] Peter, I knew that I’d entered into this space where this was taken seriously [in] a deeply caring way. So that’s my experience of the show.”
These defenses come just after Dame Judi Dench wrote an open letter to The Times UK criticizing the Emmy Award-winning series for being “cruelly unjust” while depicting the British royal family.
“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” Dench’s letter said.
“Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series — that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence — this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent,” she continued. “No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”
The British actress concedes that the show advertises itself as “fictionalized drama” but thinks more effort should be made to make it clear that some specific events may not have happened. Meanwhile, the actors and creator believe they’re doing enough to portray the royal family scandals from the 90s accurately.