The Crown labelled ‘fantastically unbelievable’ by Madeley
Some have also urged viewers to boycott the series and warned the American streaming giant that users could dump their subscriptions en masse because the show is “damaging the Royal Family”. Royal author Hugo Vickers has revealed that the late Prince Philip hated the show and was “very, very upset” by the period drama, which will soon shoot its fifth season in the UK. Jonathan Pryce will be replacing Tobias Menzies as the Duke.
The series, which mixes facts with fiction, takes “outrageous liberties” and is “despicably distorted” say critics. The portrayal that the Duke of Edinburgh’s behaviour at school in some way led to the tragic death of his beloved sister in a plane crash has been singled out as particularly abhorrent.
With the Queen and the nation still reeling from the death of the Prince, Vickers now wants the show axed, saying: “I think the whole thing should be cancelled, but it’s not going to be. The whole thing’s just going to go ahead. They couldn’t care less.
“They’re picking away at tragedy. They did the death of the Queen’s equerry Major Hugh Lindsay. The widow on that occasion was pretty upset.”
He continued: “They can say what they like now because they can’t libel the dead. They’ve done a real disservice and it’s up to someone to put this story right about what he [Philip] was really like.
“It’s horrific what they’re doing, entirely to damage the Royal Family. If you think that’s how the monarchy behaves there would no justification having it.
“I predict the worst [for next season]. The last season ended with Prince Philip warning Diana that unless she toed the line and decided not to break away, things could end badly for her.”
Former Cabinet member and Express columnist Ann Widdecombe said: “I’m not surprised any member of the Royal Family is upset by it.
Prince Philip was ‘very, very upset’ by the period drama
“I don’t watch it because I don’t like entertainment presented as fact, and I think that is what is being done here.
“I think there’s a case for looking at the rules for having to put a disclaimer on that, saying ‘This is not a factual, historical series’.
“I urge everyone to give it a miss. Netflix only make money from it because you’re watching it.”
Prince Philip was “upset” because of a storyline about the tragic death of his pregnant sister Cecile in a 1937 air crash. The show implied Philip had been at fault.
This involved a “fabrication of the truth”, said Vickers.
“He was very upset about that, I know that for a fact,” said Vickers. “Of course he would be about how his father was portrayed. Philip didn’t see it [the show] but he was told about it.
“Netflix know it’s not true, because Philip actually travelled out to the funeral with his father. There was no punch up, there was no half-term cancelled for him, his sister was always coming over anyway, it was nothing to do with him. It was the most horrible thing to happen in his life.”
Matt Smith as Prince Philip in the first series of the show
Richard Fitzwilliam, a Royal commentator and film critic, agreed: “The programme does take outrageous liberties. The episode that deals with the tragic death of his sister Cecile, Prince Philip’s sister was absolutely, despicably distorted.
“In 1937, Cecile was killed in an air crash, and The Crown implies that because of his bad behaviour at Gordonstoun [school] when he was gated, it meant she couldn’t spend the holiday with him, and then she took the flight [which proved fatal].
“The series implies Philip was blamed by his father for his sister’s death.”
Asked if there was a case to rewrite the character, Fitzwilliam said: “There’s always a case to have his character rewritten.
“The overall point is that Philip has not been favourably portrayed and he seems louche, and very ill-at-ease with the role of consort. I hope that people still do realise what an extraordinary great Briton he was, with all that energy which he used for the benefit of so many charities, and also his stalwart support of the Queen which isn’t emphasised in The Crown.”
Netflix refused to make any official comment but a senior production source said: “We don’t comment on individual stories related to The Crown especially a story from several seasons ago”.
Senior MPs say that the streaming platform risks enraging the public if the next two series contain content which could distress the Queen.
Sir David Amess, a patron of the British Monarchists Society, said: “To continue portraying the Royal Family and the Duke of Edinburgh in particular in an unfavourable light is totally inappropriate and I think Netflix should reconsider their programming.”
The Southend West Conservative MP called on Netflix to “make it as clear as they possibly can that this is absolute fiction”.
He said that just as the fury of football fans had convinced foreign owners of clubs not to press ahead with plans for a European Super League, the “power of people subscribing to Netflix should be called on, frankly, to ensure that the high esteem that our senior royals are held in isn’t damaged in any way whatsoever.”
Sir Roger Gale, a former actor and television producer who is now the Conservative MP for North Thanet, warned of the potential for people to abandon Netflix in “droves”.
He said: “I think the timing is quite awful… I would hope that Netflix producers will be sensitive to the subject matter and to the circumstances.
“If they are not it could backfire on them horribly. If I was them I wouldn’t do it at all.”
New Forest West Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne said it would “very bad taste” for Prince Philip to be presented as the villain of the drama.
In the show, Philip tells Diana to fit in with the family or ‘things could end badly’
And Strangford DUP MP Jim Shannon urged Netflix to put the production “back on the drawing board” and “contact the roy al family and do it right”.
He said: “I am quite annoyed about Netflix. For them it’s all about making money.”
Former First Secretary of State Damian Green, the Conservative MP for Ashford, said: “I really hope that these new series are produced in a sensitive way. We have all been reminded recently that the Queen and her family are human beings as well as public figures, and that should be respected.”
Romford Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said the country owed the Queen and Prince Philip “inexhaustible” gratitude.
He said: “I hope that the executives at Netflix recognise this and ensure that any further series of The Crown portray them as they have always been: devoted public servants.”
Imran Ahmad Khan, the Conservative MP for Wakefield, called on the producers to be fair in their portrayal of the royals and to celebrate their service to the country.
He said: “The Crown is an incredibly popular programme, and I very much look forward to watching the coming series. Netflix should not sacrifice historical integrity, or besmirch the names and deeds of any member of the royal family in pursuit of viewership, and I urge the Crown’s producers to portray every family member in a fair light that reflects and celebrates their lifetimes of service to our country.”