Netflix has added a “fictional dramatisation” clarification to the trailer of the new series of The Crown after criticism from Judi Dench and John Major.
In the trailer’s description on YouTube, the first line now reads: “Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.”
In a letter to the Times on Thursday, Dench said the Netflix hit “seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism” and its status as fictionalised drama should be made clear because “a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true”.
She said a disclaimer should be added by Netflix “for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve its reputation in the eyes of its British subscribers”.
“Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series – that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence – this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.”
Meanwhile Major told the Mail on Sunday that a scene apparently portraying a plot to oust Elizabeth II was “a barrel-load of malicious nonsense”.
Major’s office released a statement that said: “Sir John has not cooperated in any way with The Crown. As you will know, discussions between the monarch and prime minister are entirely private and – for Sir John – will always remain so. But not one of the scenes you depict are accurate in any way whatsoever. They are fiction, pure and simple.”
In response to Major’s comments, a spokesperson for The Crown said: “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events. Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family – one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”
The fifth season of The Crown is on Netflix from 9 November.