‘The Crown’ Season 5: Netflix Adds Disclaimer Following Criticism of Charles/Elizabeth Conspiracy Storyline

Netflix has added a disclaimer to The Crown Season 5 trailer on all of its YouTube channels. The disclaimer comes following days of criticism from former British Prime Minister and actor Dame Judi Dench for dramatic license taken in the new season. 

'The Crown' Season 5: Prince Charles (Dominic West) speaks at a podium
Dominic West | Netflix

If this is all news to you, Showbiz Cheat Sheet is here to help. Here’s where to find the new disclaimer and what it says, and the background on what all the hubbub is about. The Crown Season 5 premieres Nov. 9 on Netflix. 

The new ‘The Crown’ Season 5 disclaimer 

Netflix has always billed The Crown as historical fiction. It is a drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton), but with plenty of dramatic license. After all, the historical record only covers the royals’ public appearances. The Crown creator Peter Morgan and the writers have to fill in what might have happened behind closed doors. Now, Netflix is making that explicit. They have updated the trailer on their YouTube channels to include the following disclaimer in the description box.

“Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign,” the disclaimer reads.

We’ll find out Nov. 9 whether this disclaimer airs before episodes of The Crown Season 5.

Who objected to ‘The Crown’ Season 5?

The Crown Season 5 is getting closer and closer to the present. The story involves Princess Diana and they’ve cast Elizabeth Debicki as Di. The story presumably shows then Prince Charles (Dominic West)’s frustration with not being elevated in his royal role. 

There is apparently a scene in which Charles suggests to Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) that they remove Queen Elizabeth to make way for him. The real Sir John came out against this suggestion to confirm such a conversation never took place between himself and Prince Charles. Charles only became King Charles when Queen Elizabeth died Sept. 8 of this year

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Netflix responded to Major with a statement that The Crown is “fictional dramatization”, therefore should not be taken as fact. The Times printed Netflix’s statement but that wasn’t good enough for Dame Judi Dench. She wrote a letter to The Times, published Oct. 20. The disclaimer appeared on Oct. 21. 

Why they wanted a disclaimer

Both Major and Dench came to the same conclusions. They felt Netflix was disingenuous hiding behind “historical fiction” because viewers familiar with the real-life royal family might still take for granted that those conversations took place. Major called the insinuation that Charles wanted his mother removed “malicious.”

Dench agreed. Furthermore, Dench objected to The Crown Season 5’s suggestion that Elizabeth’s parenting was criminal. Since there are real people involved in the story, Dench considered such fabrications “cruelly unjust.” So there’s quite a lot of drama surrounding the Netflix drama about the royal family.