There is no doubt that The Crown recaptured the collective consciousness following its return a couple of weeks ago. But while fans love the Netflix drama, they also love to pick out its inaccuracies.
The Crown’s fourth season introduced a number of pivotal historical moments, such as the relationship between Charles and Diana and Margaret Thatcher’s term as Prime Minister. But not everything shown on screen is as accurate as it may seem. The Crown is, after all, a television show.
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden has called for Netflix to put a disclaimer before The Crown, saying it is a work of fiction.
Dowden told the Mail:
“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that. Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
It may seem like a given that The Crown isn’t factual. But the culture secretary isn’t the only one pointing out some of the historical issues with The Crown.
Update: Netflix has responded to the calls for a disclaimer. According to The Guardian, the streaming giant released a statement saying: “We have always presented The Crown as a drama and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events. As a result we have no plans, and see no need, to add a disclaimer.”
How accurate is The Crown?
There are studies dedicated to the factual differences between The Crown and the real-life history of the royal family. Here at Lifehacker we even broke down some of them not long ago. While The Crown does often get things right, it does also take liberties to bring us the drama of a situation.
Given that Charles and Diana’s historic tour around Australia was covered in the latest season, there’s been plenty of talk about its accuracy. From making Spain look like Canberra to Australia almost becoming a Republic, The Crown covered a lot of topical issues.
ABC’s Four Corners has even called The Crown out on some recent depictions. During the Australia-based episode, a recreation of a Bob Hawke interview on Four Corners appeared. Four Corners took the time to point out some of the inaccuracies on Twitter, including that Bob Hawke did not call the Queen “a pig”.
(1/4) Hey @netflix ????. Huge fan. While we’re loving the fact that you’ve featured us in @TheCrownNetflix, we’re in the business of facts and there are a few things we want to clear up. pic.twitter.com/1eIWKVXAKG— 4corners (@4corners) November 25, 2020
(4/4) And while we’ve enjoyed your creative license, Hawke did not call the Queen a pig on our show and say, "You wouldn't put a pig in charge of a herd of prime beef cattle, even if it does look good in twin set and pearls." Here's what he really said. Thnx again @netflix! pic.twitter.com/0JY8sEOB5C— 4corners (@4corners) November 25, 2020
After discrepancies like this one, it’s easy to see why some may want Netflix to add further disclaimers. But should they?
It might save Netflix from some of the public criticisms about the show’s inaccuracy. The Crown already has warnings ahead of serious issues such as Princess Diana’s eating disorder. But perhaps, when dealing with the historical genre, it wouldn’t hurt for Netflix to include a general disclaimer to cover all of its bases.
Most people already know not to expect fact when watching a drama TV show. The Crown never says that it’s a documentary, but it does such a good job of simulating reality it’s often easy to forget that.
This article has been updated with additional information.