Netflix’s critically-acclaimed royal drama The Crown has returned for its much-anticipated Season 5. As with previous outings, the series offers a fictionalised retelling of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Naturally, the subject matter raises one very important question among viewers: what does the royal family think of The Crown? With the latest series depicting a particularly tumultuous era in British royal history — one that includes the divorce of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the Queen’s “annus horribilis” speech — viewer speculation has likely only intensified.
“The Crown is a fictional drama. The Royal Household has had no involvement,” the royal press office previously said in a statement to Bustle, not giving anything away regarding the monarchy’s opinion of the drama. Although, speaking back in 2016, series creator Peter Morgan claimed that the royals are “very, very aware” of the show.
Ultimately, the most senior members of the royal family are yet to explicitly reveal what they really make of the streaming hit, and perhaps never will. However, the occasional tidbit has managed to surface over the years, and sometimes from the royal family themselves.
Queen Elizabeth II
As the focal point of the Netflix drama, many are keen to learn what the late Queen Elizabeth II made of the series that depicts her reign. Rather unsurprisingly, the Queen never publicly revealed her true opinion of the show. However, actor Vanessa Kirby, who portrayed Princess Margaret in the first two chapters of The Crown, claimed that the late monarch was indeed a fan.
“A friend of mine was at a party and didn't know anyone, so he sidled up to this group who were talking about The Crown,” Kirby told Harper Bazaar in 2018. “One girl said, ‘Well, my granny watches it and really likes it.’ It slowly dawned on him that the girl was [Princess ] Eugenie and her granny was the Queen.”
More recently, actor Matt Smith — who played the Queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, throughout Seasons 1 and 2 — shared that “the Queen had watched it.” Speaking on NBC’s Today show in Sept. 2022, he claimed: “She used to watch it on a projector on Sunday nights, apparently.”
King Charles III
As for the newly-crowned King Charles III, he too has reportedly shared his thoughts on the royal drama — and he isn’t best pleased with his portrayal.
As the Daily Mail reported, the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, claimed that the British monarch addressed The Crown during a 2021 visit to Scotland, telling a group of MSPs, “Hello, nice to meet you all. I'm nowhere near how they portray me on Netflix.”
Having left the royal sphere in early 2020, it comes as no surprise that Prince Harry has been more vocal about the award-winning drama than most of his family members. While appearing on The Late Late Show with James Corden back in 2021, the Duke of Sussex said that, although The Crown is “not strictly accurate,” it is “based on the truth.”
“It gives you a rough idea about that lifestyle, and the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, and what can come from that,” he said. The royal added that he feels “way more comfortable with The Crown” than stories written about “my family or my wife or myself” in the press. “The difference between that [The Crown] is obviously fiction but this being reported as fact because you're supposedly the news.”
Speaking in 2022, former Doctor Who star Smith, who, as mentioned, previously portrayed the Duke of Edinburgh in the series, claimed that he once crossed paths with Harry at a polo match in 2017, and discovered that the senior royal was, at the very least, aware of the show. “He walked up to me and went ‘Granddad,’” Smith recalled. “I can't claim to know if he watches it now, but he watched a bit of it then.”
According to Olivia Colman, who played Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown’s third and fourth seasons, the Prince of Wales doesn’t tune into the royal drama. As per Hello! magazine, Colman made the claim during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show after she was asked whether or not she had ever met a member of the royal family.
“Yes, but it didn’t go very well,” Colman recalled. “I met Prince William at a dinner and he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, ‘Actually, I know what you’re doing.’ I was so excited and asked, ‘Have you watched it?’ His answer was a firm, ‘No.’”
“A friend of mine sat next to him at a dinner once and [...] Philip asked my friend if he’d made The Crown [...] and my friend couldn’t resist by the end of the meal. He was like, ‘Philip, I have to ask, have you watched The Crown?’” According to the actor, the Duke bluntly responded: “Don’t be ridiculous.”
As for the daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Princess Eugenie previously disclosed that she is a fan of the streaming sensation. “It is filmed beautifully,” she told Hello! magazine. “The music is wonderful, the story is beautiful. You feel very proud to watch it. I can't speak for everyone, but that's how I felt when I watched it.”
Sarah, Duchess Of York
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s On Front Row in Aug. 2021, the Duchess of York said “I don’t discuss it” when quizzed about her thoughts on the series. Although, Ferguson did reveal who she’d like to see play her in any future episodes of The Crown, sharing, “maybe I can say Juliane Moore should play me.”
Meanwhile, in a 2021 interview with Us Weekly, the Duchess also disclosed that she thought the Netflix drama “was filmed beautifully.” She continued: “The cinematography was excellent. I loved the way they put my wedding in as well.”
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