“The trouble is that people, especially in America, believe it completely. It’s so irritating,” Lady Anne Glenconner, a longtime friend of Her Majesty, said during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s “Women’s Hour” on Thursday, November 24. “I don’t watch The Crown now because it just makes me so angry. And it’s so unfair on members of the royal family.”
The 90-year-old England native — who served as a maid of honor at the queen’s 1947 nuptials to Prince Philip — further called the five-season drama a “complete fantasy” regarding the accuracy of its story lines.
The Crown season 5 dropped on the streaming giant earlier this month, highlighting the dissolution of the marriage between King Charles III — who succeeded Elizabeth in September after her death at the age of 96 — and Princess Diana. The latest batch of episodes also featured Diana — who died in a 1997 fatal Paris car crash — working with Andrew Morton on his biography about her life before sitting down with the BBC’s Panorama for a tell-all interview amid Charles’ romance with Queen Consort Camilla. Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce star as the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021, on The Crown season 5. Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki, for their parts, portray Charles and Diana.
Ahead of season 5’s debut on the streaming service, The Crown came under fire over claims of historical inaccuracy.
“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” Judi Dench wrote in an open letter to The Times last month, asking Netflix to add a dramatized disclaimer to the new episodes. “No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”
While Netflix ultimately complied with the 87-year-old Oscar winner’s request amid backlash, Andrew Morton thought the disclaimer was “ridiculous.”
“I mean, it is a drama. It’s not a documentary. That’s been said about 10 million times. Not everything in it is going to be authentic,” The Queen: Her Life author exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month. “[Watching season 5] was like being transported back in time. It was quite unnerving, quite frankly, because the woman who plays Diana — Elizabeth Debicki — absolutely nailed everything about her mannerisms, her gestures, her speech patterns. … I was kind of shaking really with the verisimilitude of it all.”
While Morton found The Crown nailed his involvement in Diana’s story, Glenconner was less enthused.
“I saw Helena [Bonham Carter] after she’d been in The Crown [as Princess Margaret in seasons 3 and 4] and she said, ‘What did you think?’ And I said, ‘Well, rather disappointed,’” Glenconner, who served as a lady-in-waiting to Margaret before her 2002 death, recalled to the BBC on Thursday. “And she said, ‘I know. But the thing is, I’m an actress, and I have to do what’s written for me.’”
Neither The Crown nor creator Peter Morgan have addressed Glenconner’s criticism. The series is currently in production on the sixth and final season.