The Crown has portrayed decades in the life of the British royal family, and viewers may wonder if the show needed their approval. Peter Morgan’s historical drama series focuses primarily on Queen Elizabeth II and the significant historical events that took place during her reign. The Crown goes deep into the monarchy’s personal experiences and feelings regarding these events as well, prompting the question of how much is true and how much is sanctioned by the royal family.
Ahead of the arrival of The Crown season 5, The Palace Papers author Tina Brown reported that the royals are unhappy about the upcoming installments of the show. The family has even stopped “The Crown filming in locations where they have an influence” (via The A.V. Club). This is suspected to be due to the depiction of Charles and Diana’s public separation and the latter’s death. Also, the show seems to be going deeper in time than expected, with The Crown holding season 6 casting calls for young versions of Prince William, and Prince Harry, and future queen Kate Middleton.
The Crown is a nuanced portrayal of the royal family’s complicated history, and while entertaining, it also dives into the darker side of their past. As a result, the British Monarchy isn’t always painted in a positive light. Still, members of the royal family have watched the show and, even more surprisingly, some have expressed positive feelings toward earlier seasons. While their opinions may change as the show continues, here is what we know thus far about whether the royal family actually approved of The Crown.
Who In The Royal Family Approve Of The Crown
Despite their very public exit from the royal family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have both admitted to watching The Crown (via CBC News: The National). Harry expressed he’s more comfortable watching The Crown than reading stories about his family, explaining that while it’s fiction, it’s “loosely based on the truth” and “gives you a rough idea about…” life as a royal, whereas the press often presents misinformation as fact (via The Late Late Show with James Corden). Harry added he would like actor Damian Lewis to play him in the series.
Princess Eugenie is also a vocal supporter of The Crown, sharing that though she can’t speak for everyone, she thinks “[it] is filmed beautifully… The music is wonderful, the story is beautiful. You feel very proud to watch it” (via Hello! Magazine). Eugenie’s mother, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, agrees that the cinematography is great, and she has gone as far as to share that she loved “the way they put [her] wedding [to the Queen’s son Prince Andrew] in as well” (via Us Weekly).
More astonishingly, Queen Elizabeth II watched The Crown. An insider source revealed she would watch the show with her son Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, who drove “to Windsor at the weekend to join the Queen for an informal supper while watching TV,” and urged her to watch it (via Express). According to the source, the Queen really liked the show, though “there were some depictions of events that she found too heavily dramatized.” A senior courtier explained the Queen was upset by Prince Philip’s supposedly inaccurate portrayal as an insensitive and unsympathetic father to Charles but understands “she cannot change” whether viewers accept the show as truthful.
Why King Charles III and Prince William Do Not Approve Of The Crown
When it comes to King Charles III’s portrayal in The Crown, he personally does not approve, as he simply does not think it is accurate. Scottish minister Anas Sarwar shared that upon meeting the then-prince at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in October 2021, Charles did not hesitate to share that he is “nowhere near how they portray [him] on Netflix” (via the New York Post). He may also detest the series for often painting his wife, Camilla, in a poor light, though sources have shared that she watches the show and has no issues with it (via Vanity Fair). Reportedly, Charles’s father, Prince Philip, was also against the show. The Crown actor Matt Smith, who played Philip in seasons 1-2, shared his friend once attended a dinner hosted by the royals and asked Philip if he watched the series, to which the prince replied, “Don’t. Be. Ridiculous,” (via The Guardian).
Funnily, Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Elizabeth II in seasons 3 and 4, revealed Prince William is also among the royals who have condemned the series (via Hello! Magazine). She met William at a Buckingham Palace reception and asked if he had watched the show. His answer “was a firm ‘no.’ But he was very charming and very lovely.” As to why William did not watch, an anonymous source explained he is displeased with the show, sharing “He feels that both his parents [Charles and Diana] are being exploited and being presented in a false, simplistic way to make money,” (via The Daily Mail).
It seems as though most of the royal family is supportive of the show, but despite enjoying the series as a source of entertainment, they maintain it too often blurs the line between fact and fiction. In all fairness, Peter Morgan has never claimed his series is factual and has openly admitted to taking creative liberties with the story. While The Crown is well-researched and somewhat accurately depicts the royal family, it is merely a dramatized series.