Concerns about The Crown's creative license continue to echo around Britain. In late November, UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden told the Mail on Sunday that he worried viewers could "mistake fiction for fact" when watching the show, and that he planned to write Netflix requesting the company add a "health warning" to clarify that the series is fictional.
"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," Dowden said, adding, "Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact."
After at first declining to comment, Netflix made its stance clear, with a spokesperson telling Variety on December 6 that no such warning would be implemented. "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," the spokesperson said. "As a result we have no plans — and see no need—to add a disclaimer." The streaming service also reportedly privately responded to UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who sent Netflix a private letter about his concerns.
Josh O'Connor, who plays Prince Charles on the royal drama, clearly agrees with the streaming service's decision. "We were slightly let down by our culture secretary, whose job it is to encourage culture," O'Connor said during an interview with the the Los Angeles Times for The Envelope: The Podcast. "In my opinion, it's pretty outrageous that he came out and said what he said. Particularly, in this time when he knows that the arts are struggling and they're on their knees, I think it's a bit of a low blow."
Subsequently, former education secretary Damian Hind took issue with O'Connor's sentiments. "Mr. O’Connor says Oliver Dowden’s intervention is outrageous, but what would be truly outrageous would be trying to stop our Culture Secretary holding the streaming giant to account. Oliver has every right to call for the series to carry a disclaimer," Hind said, adding, "This is not some dramatization of a novel. It is based on the lives of real people and it relays many events people will recognize, so although it contains fiction, it certainly isn’t 'pure' fiction."
Emma Corrin, the actress who plays Princess Diana, is the latest person to defend Netflix's decision. "It is very clearly a dramatized version of events," she told Variety, adding, "This is fictitious in the same way people don’t mistake Succession for what actually happened with the Murdochs." Corrin noted that she did respect where the other side was coming from: "I also understand [the request] comes from a place of sensitivity and protectiveness of the royal family and Diana."
In the past, when asked, The Crown's creators aren't shy about saying that they've taken liberties with the truth—the show doesn't, after all, claim to be a docu-series. Robert Lacey, the show's historical consultant, previously explained to T&C, "There are two sorts of truth. There's historical truth and then there's the larger truth about the past."
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