Did Prince Charles Meet With John Major to Try and Force Queen Elizabeth to Abdicate?

the crown season 5
Did Charles Try to Force the Queen to Abdicate?Netflix

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There's been no lack of controversy around the most recent season of The Crown. Arriving on Netflix just a few months after Queen Elizabeth II's death in September, there have been suggestions that the portrayals are disrespectful to the royal family so soon after their period of grieving, and some have even called for the show to come with a disclaimer proclaiming itself as fiction.

One of the more debated plot points of the season comes in its first episode, titled "Queen Victoria Syndrome." In it Charles (played by Dominic West) leaves his Italian vacation with Princess Diana and their children to have a meeting with Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) about a Sunday Times article and poll suggesting that the public would support the Queen's abdication in favor of Charles. In the scene, Charles appears to obliquely seek Major's help in moving the Queen toward abdication, but was there a real life meeting to discuss the possibility of Charles ascending the throne early?

Ahead of the show's November debut, the real former Prime Minister John Major spoke out about the issue, telling Sky News via a spokesperson that "There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II." They added that if scenes in the show implied otherwise, "they should be seen as nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction. A barrel-load of nonsense peddled for no other reason than to provide maximum—and entirely false—dramatic impact".

commonwealth day 2019
Former Prime Minister John Major and then-Prince Charles at the Commonwealth Day celebrations in 2019. Chris Jackson - Getty Images

The spokesperson also noted that Major, "has not co-operated in any way with The Crown. Nor has he ever been approached by them to fact-check any script material in this or any other series."

However, Diana's former private secretary Patrick Jephson disagreed, saying that the production (for which he consulted) "made a remarkably good effort."

"I was looking out for lies and cruel falsehoods that would have allowed my inner critic to throw metaphorical tomato soup all over the picture the artists were painting," Jephson wrote for the Telegraph. "I didn’t find any." While Jephson admits that dramatic license was used to condense events or make a more direct narrative point, he says that the "authenticity in the picture being presented," remained true.

Specifically, he noted the interaction between Charles and Major on the show, saying that the interaction was "not strictly accurate," not because the conversation didn't happen, but rather because, "the discussion was actually held with a previous prime minister."

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