Should Netflix Add A Disclaimer To ‘The Crown’?

Rebecca Barton

Season 4 of Netflix’s hit show The Crown arrived on our screens on November 15th, and has brought with it rave reviews and well-deserved praise. Much anticipated, the fourth season focuses heavily upon the rocky relationship between Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and gives us access into the tense, private moments of their marriage.

Whilst incredibly entertaining, the somewhat negative treatment towards Diana from Charles that is portrayed has shed a different light on the future king for many of its viewers. Almost a month on, calls for Netflix to include a disclaimer highlighting the fictionality of the show have been denied by the company, but should they have been?

It is important to remember that we are watching acted and exaggerated scenes

For many of its avid watchers, The Crown centres on events that happened long before they were born or old enough to remember them, which arguably poses an issue for this demographic when attempting to digest the content of the show.

Whilst illustrating events that have happened regarding the royal family in the past, it is important to remember that we are watching acted and exaggerated scenes that are ultimately part of a fictitious nature. However, certain scenes, such as THAT uncomfortable interview of the Prince and Princess of Wales, are virtually identical in setting and speech to the real moments. It is therefore understandably confusing to those not familiar with the accurate historical facts to interpret everything that they are watching is real if certain parts definitely are.

This is problematic due to the conclusions that some are drawing about Prince Charles and Camilla. The generally harsh and seemingly unfair treatment that we see Princess Diana endure in The Crown from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall has helped to curate a negative image of the future monarch, who has little intention of stepping down as the next king. As a result of the backlash on social media of the show, the pair’s official twitter account @ClarenceHouse has disabled comments from anyone they are not following. In essence, those who are willing to express an opinion to them cannot.

The nature of the show can sometimes cause a difficult distinction between what is real and what is not

There have been many calls for Netflix to provide a disclaimer to accompany the details of the programme, to remind the viewing public that we are not watching a historical re-enactment of the royal family. Without this disclaimer, it can be argued that this is how people can become misinformed and make judgements based on wrong or distorted ‘facts’.

A statement from Netflix at the weekend said: “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. As a result we have no plans, and see no need, to add a disclaimer”. Whilst this is true to an extent, and if people are interested in what they have watched then they should research it, it is an idealised view. Reality means that some will essentially take what they have watched as gospel because the nature of the show can sometimes cause a difficult distinction between what is real and what is not.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that The Crown is a drama loosely based on history. Rather than imitation, it is more apt to say that we are watching acting. Netflix’s decision to bypass a disclaimer seems logical, as it is not their job, nor the show’s, to educate the masses on the royal family. The company, in an attempt at further validation, pointed viewers in the direction of truth towards the Diana: In her own Words documentary on the streaming platform to ‘answer much of what you’re asking’. Whether Netflix has a viewpoint that they would like to voice or not, it certainly should not be searched for in The Crown.

Rebecca Barton

Featured image courtesy of  Annie Spratt via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes made to this image.

In article video courtesy of  David Gaveston via YouTube.

In article images courtesy of  clarencehouse via Instagram. No changes made to these images.

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