When Crown Wednesday returns after a two-year absence, with Charles and Diana’s shattered marriage and further crisis for Queen Elizabeth II in the drama’s elegant but intrusive headlines.
Off-stage drama is also swirling for the Netflix series that began with Elizabeth’s wedding in the late 1940s, and in its fifth season, takes on the turbulent 1990s of the British royal family. The Queen famously labeled one “anus horribilis” – Latin for “terrible year”.
History has gone the safe distance of 10 new episodes set in recent memory for many and whose stories, unseen, have been condemned. The death of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth in September adds an uneasy dimension: We speculate freely about the famous before and after her departure, but what more owed the nation’s beloved and longest-serving monarch Is?
Prominent critics include Judi Dench, an Oscar winner for her role as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love. In a letter to The Times of London, the actor described elements of the play as “brutally unjust to individuals and harmful to the institution they represent”.
He asked to carry a disclaimer for each episode, on which it was termed as fiction. It’s a demand that Netflix has heard before and continues to resist, crafting the series as a drama inspired by historical events. Netflix said series creator Peter Morgan was not available for comment.
Dench isn’t happy with the streaming service’s indolence.
“It’s time to rethink Netflix – for a family and a nation that has recently been bereaved, as an honor to a sovereign who so dutifully served his people for 70 years,” she wrote.
His plea followed a series of rebukes from former Prime Minister John Major, who was being lobbied in the new season by Prince Charles – now King Charles III – to help the Queen abdication. A spokesman for the Major called the scene false and malicious.
Cast members, including Jonathan Price, who plays Elizabeth’s legendary husband Prince Philip, beg to differ from the series’ detractors.
“The Crown poses no threat to the Queen,” Price told the Associated Press. He said critics scoffed at the new season despite its ignoring it, reminding him of what the British once called the “Mary Whitehouse effect”.
Whitehouse “had a huge following and criticized programs she had never seen before,” he said. “I think this time there were a lot of protests, people did not watch this series. They don’t know how to treat these issues. I have to say that he is treated with a lot of honesty and a lot of sensitivity.”
Imelda Staunton, stepping down as the latest actor to play Elizabeth, defended the series, its award-winning producer, and its audience.
“I think it’s undermining the audience,” Staunton told the AP. “There have been four seasons where people know it’s written by Peter Morgan and his team of writers.”
Morgan, author of the film The Queen and the play The Audience, both starring Oscar- and Tony winner Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, has made the royals a feature. Recent criticism may suggest that a winter of his discontent is ahead, but Morgan has it easier than another writer who feasts on British monarchs as material: William Shakespeare, who dramatized the reign of the Seven Kings. did.
All were in the past, Shakespeare treading lightly around the rulers of his time, Elizabeth I and James I.
“We all imagine it to be like sweetness and light, and we have all seen Shakespeare in love and everyone drinking. In fact, it was like Stalinist Russia in many ways,” Shakespeare expert Andrew Dixon said of the rigidly controlled society in which the bard worked from about 1585 to 1613.
The plays were approved by the Master of Revels, a type of civil servant with the power of censorship, said Dixon, author of World’s Elseware: Journeys Around the Shakespeare Globe and The Globe Guide to Shakespeare. He said writers could end up in jail or worse, for crimes.
Wilson, Harvard teacher-scholar Jeffrey R. Wilson, author of The Bodies of Shakespeare and Trump and Richard III, said, “His little representations of recent royals of his time were too flattering, and early audiences even called him a patriot.” He said that theater in general was considered deceptive and deceptive.
“He told this political version that was flattering to the powers of his time,” Wilson said. It became the “major framework” for telling English royal history during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is now called the Tudor myth,” he said, a reference to the House of Tudor that ruled for more than a century.
It’s problematic if people likewise start ascribing a “fictional version of history as fact” of Netflix shows, he said.
Leslie Manville, who plays Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sibling this season, said she defers to those in charge of the Crown over whether the disclaimer is warranted.
“For my part, I can only be clear that what I’m doing is a play,” Manville said. “We haven’t backed it to be anything but a drama about a real family, a very world famous family.”
Staunton said he was grateful that the season addressed a period that was “quite turbulent, and so it makes for quite a good drama.” She addressed the series’ recent protests directly about the death of the Queen.
“There’s no doubt that if we were releasing the series two years ago there wouldn’t be as much sensitivity, which again makes absolutely sense,” Staunton said. She was deeply affected by Rani’s death, which she learned of the day after the show’s sixth season was taped.
“‘Why am I feeling so upset?'” she recalled asking herself. “But of course I was living with him for two and a half years” preparation and production.
Working on the series for Price has given a better understanding of the royal family.
“They have always been part of society and it looks like they are going to continue for some time,” he said. “I look forward to the reign of King Charles, and see what he can do to turn things around.”