We fact-check The Crowns Prince Charles and John Major meeting scene

We fact-check The Crowns Prince Charles and John Major meeting scene


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Season five of The Crown saw Prince Charles (played by Dominic West) meeting informally with Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) after a damning poll which revealed the heir apparent to be more popular than his mother Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton). Prince Charles seemed to be angling for his mother to abdicate and step up in his place as the head of the British monarchy. However, the premier brushed off the poll, saying public opinion often changed and polls “come and go”.

Nonetheless, Charles insisted it was “dangerous” to ignore the poll and then compared himself and his relationship with the Queen to his great-great-great grandfather Edward VII and Queen Victoria.

Charles said Edward VII had been “waiting in the wings” to take over from Queen Victoria, who had “no confidence in him” and thought he was “free thinking” but his mother “refused” to give him responsibilities.

He concluded: “When the time came he proved his doubters wrong, his dynamism, his intellect, his popular appeal made his reign a triumph.”

The meeting took place in episode one titled Queen Victoria Syndrome, a phrase given to a monarch remaining on the throne despite a lack of popularity among their subjects.

The term was borne out of Queen Victoria’s reluctance to step down as head of state despite her unpopularity, which seemed to also be the case for the Queen in the 1990s, according to The Crown.

However, as Major predicted, Prince Charles later lost favour with the people over his acrimonious divorce from Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and his continued affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams) amid the so-called ‘Tampongate’ call.

Royal expert Fitzwilliam said: “Regarding what’s true and what isn’t, from the very scene where the Prince of Wales is anxious to enlist the Prime Minister John Major in an attempt to oust the Queen, in an attempt to force her to abdicate, such behaviour just simply didn’t happen.

“Climactically, what you see very clearly is a series that uses performers extremely well.

“There’s an excellent cast. It’s production values are rightly famous, but what [writer Peter Morgan] actually portrays and what actually happened often we don’t know, sometimes we do know.”

He went on to say: “It’s disrespectful to the dead. It doesn’t respect the feelings of the living, such as what Prince William feels.

“But then again, I don’t think that Peter Morgan believes that the Royals have feelings because being part of the institution to him seems to mean, such feelings as they do have, and Charles – a very substantial performance by Dominic West here – believes that the Royal Family are trapped in the past era.”

The real-life former PM Major wasn’t approached by the Netflix production to contribute to The Crown or fact-check the series.

“There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II,” a spokesperson for the Mail on Sunday said.

They said the scene was “entirely false” and was for “maximum dramatic impact”.

The Crown has come under fire in the past for its deception of historical events with former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for a disclaimer.

The streaming platform did state under the trailer for season five: “Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.”

There have been calls for Netflix to put a similar disclaimer on the show itself to inform viewers The Crown is a docudrama and a dramatisation rather than a documentary.

Fitzwilliam said: “I wished people who watched it knew which bits were completely made up and also realised that it has an extraordinarily nasty anti-monarchy agenda, despite all the excellence of the acting and the superb production production values.

“People watching it may be entertained by it, take it completely with a pinch of salt.

“It is entertainment and it should have stressed this within its disclaimer actually saying so because it is very cruel.”

The Crown season 5 is streaming on Netflix now

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