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Netflix’s The Crown has been generating some extra drama lately, and not all of it is welcome. First, it was the confusion over who will play Queen Elizabeth in future seasons of the show. Now, it’s a major factual error in one episode of season 3. 

Getting royal titles right can be confusing for anyone not steeped in the British tradition. More than a few people have wondered why Prince Philip is a prince rather than a king since he’s married to Queen Elizabeth. Under British monarchy rules and traditions, however, you don’t become a king by marrying a queen, counter-intuitive as that might sound. 

What mistake did ‘The Crown’ make?

Claire Foy in 'The Crown'
Claire Foy in ‘The Crown’ | Netflix

In the season 3 episode called “Bubbikins,” Prince Philip appears on Meet the Press where he causes a stir by talking about how financially strained the royal family is. Before this happens, there’s some back and forth about why he’s a prince and not a king. The host remarks that if a woman marries a king she becomes a queen.

However, spouses to the reigning monarch in the British royal family never assume the direct title of king or queen. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the spouse of a ruling king or queen is called a consort. In British royalty,  the husband of a queen is called a prince consort, not a king consort.  

Princes Charles and Prince William, are married to Camilla Parker-Bowles and Kate Middleton, respectively. However, neither of those women will assume the direct title of queen.

As The Week explains, those women will be Queen Consort or Princess Consort when Prince Charles and Prince William ascend the throne. A consort will not have any ruling powers, as that falls to Prince Charles and then Prince William. 

‘The Crown’ sometimes fudges the facts

The Crown is obviously not a documentary. And, like every drama, the show takes some historical liberties.

Episode 7 of season 3, called “Moondust,” portrays Prince Philip as struggling through a midlife crisis. So much so that he becomes fixated on the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. 

Sally Bedell Smith, a royals historian, told NBC: “I believe it is complete invention. I don’t think he would’ve known a midlife crisis if it slapped him in the face. He has always been secure and confident, and he has always understood what his role was vis-à-vis the Queen.”

Besides that, his preoccupation with the moon landing has also been exaggerated. While Prince Philip, like everyone else, was impressed with the monumental achievement, he was not thinking about it to distraction.

“He wouldn’t have been sitting around brooding about not being an astronaut, Smith said. 

Who will be the next woman to wear ‘The Crown?’

In November there were reports that Imelda Staunton would become The Crown’s new Elizabeth for seasons 4 and 5. Claire Foy played the young Elizabeth in the first two seasons, and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) will play her through seasons 3 and 4. It makes sense that a different actress would play her in seasons 5 and 6, taking us up to the present day. 

Staunton would be a fine choice, having won acclaim for her Oscar-nominated turn in Vera Drake, and the world loved to hate her when she played Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, Netflix said Staunton had not been confirmed, because seasons 4 and 5 have not yet been confirmed. 

“We are currently filming season four of ‘The Crown’ but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” read the statement from Netflix. At the same time, Netflix has not yet said that seasons 5 or 6 are not happening. Netflix tends to cancel shows after 4 or 5 seasons, but they could make an exception for The Crown to let the series come to a natural conclusion.