4 times celebrities and politicians have spoken out against 'The Crown' season 5



Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in season five of 'The Crown'.
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in season five of 'The Crown'.

  • "The Crown" season 5 premieres on Netflix on Wednesday, November 9.
  • Dame Judi Dench slammed the series for being "cruelly unjust" and not including a disclaimer.
  • Former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major have spoken out about inaccuracies in the season.
A spokesman for John Major called the series "malicious fiction."

Jonny Lee Miller as former British Prime Minister John Major in Netflix's "The Crown."
Jonny Lee Miller as former British Prime Minister John Major in Netflix's "The Crown."

In the first episode, Prince Charles (Dominic West) cuts his family holiday short to have a secret meeting with John Major (Jonny Lee Miller), the main prime minister of this season.

While Charles doesn't explicitly say he wants to replace his mother, Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton), he alludes to the idea by bringing up his great-great-grandfather, Edward VII, who was "kept waiting in the wings" for 60 years. 

A spokesperson for Major told the Times of London last month that the scenes "should be seen as nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction."

The rep added: "Discussions between the monarch and prime minister are entirely private and, for Sir John, will always remain so. There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any abdication — nor was such an improbable and improper subject ever raised by the then Prince of Wales (or Sir John)."

In response, a spokesperson for Netflix told the Times of London that "The Crown" has "always been presented as a drama based on historical events."

"Series five is a fictional dramatization, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family — one that has already been scrutinized and well documented by journalists, biographers, and historians."

Dame Judi Dench told The Telegraph that she thinks the series should add a disclaimer.

judi dench
Judi Dench attends press day at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 23, 2022.

While Dame Judi Dench isn't in the upcoming season of "The Crown," the actor has spoken out against the series.

Dench, who has portrayed two former queens on-screen and is a friend of the current Queen Consort Camilla, shared her concerns in a letter to the Times of London, agreeing with John Major.

"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 wrote. "While many will recognize 'The Crown' for the brilliant but fictionalized account of events that it is, I fear that a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true."

Dench shared examples of scenes where Prince Charles (West) plots for his mother to abdicate the throne and says later that "his mother's parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence."

Dench continued: "This is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent."

The Oscar-winning actor called for Netflix to add a disclaimer at the start of each episode. In the past, "The Crown" creators have stated that it is a "fictionalized drama" but have never put a disclaimer on episodes.

"No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged," Dench added.

Major also wrote a letter to the Telegraph criticizing the timing of the series after Queen Elizabeth's death.

Heads Of State Banquet At Guildhall, London To Commemorate 50th Anniversary Of End Of War In Europe. Prince Charles Is Greeted By Prime Minister John Major And Wife Norma.
Charles greeting then-Prime Minister John Major and his wife in May 1995.

Last week, John Major wrote a letter to The Telegraph arguing that season five is airing too soon after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September.

The former prime minister said that the scenes, such as Charles plotting against his mother, would be "profoundly hurtful to a family who are still grieving for the very person on whose life the entire drama was founded."

"Fiction should not be paraded as fact," Major wrote. "Netflix may well take the view that any publicity is good publicity. But I assure them it is not — most especially when it disrespects the memory of those no longer alive, or puts words into the mouths of those still living and in no position to defend themselves."

The former prime minister also brought up the disclaimer discussion again.

"I gather Netflix continues to refuse to put out a disclaimer at the top of the opening credits, on the basis that 'everyone knows this is a drama series,'" he said. "But this is simply not good enough. If everyone knows, why not acknowledge that?"

Major continued: "Without such action, many millions — around the world — could still be influenced by a damaging and fictional script, which claims 'authority' by being interspersed with historical fact."

Tony Blair told the Telegraph that a particular scene in season five is "complete and utter rubbish."

The Crown
Bertie Carvel playing Tony Blair in "The Crown" and Blair himself in 1994.

In the season finale, Tony Blair (portrayed by Bertie Carvel) is elected the new prime minister.

In the episode, Prince Charles (West) reacts to this by organizing a one-on-one meeting in which he tries to get Blair to help him disobey the Queen (Staunton), to pave a way for him to marry his true love, Camilla Parker Bowles (portrayed by Olivia Williams).

Last week, a spokesman for Blair told The Telegraph: "It should come as no surprise that this is complete and utter rubbish."

The former prime minister has yet to make a full statement.

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