Prince William will ‘undoubtedly detest’ The Crown after it portrayed his father Prince Charles as ‘brutal’ and a ‘insecure wimp’ and his late mother Princess Diana as ‘deeply stressed’, a royal expert said today.
Richard Fitzwilliams said the Duke of Cambridge will view the Netflix drama as ‘deeply intrusive’ with a ‘malign and ill-mannered’ portrayal of senior royals.
The royal commentator also told MailOnline that Prince Harry is ‘unlikely to see a clash between it and the Netflix deal which he and Meghan have made’.
He spoke out amid fresh questions about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to sign a multi-million-pound deal with the California-based broadcaster.
Other royal experts have lined up to criticise the drama, including Ingrid Seward who called it ‘pretty inaccurate’, Dickie Arbiter who said ‘some of the actions are fiction’ and Sally Beddell Smith who warned ‘the level of invention has been growing’.
Tom Quinn said parts of the show were ‘total nonsense’, although Paul Burrell was full of praise, saying it was a ‘fair and accurate dramatisation of what happened’.
Princess Diana is played by Emma Corrin and Prince Charles by Josh O’Connor in The Crown
Prince William with his parents Diana and Charles at Kensington Palace in London in June 1984
The fourth series of the hit drama features topics such as Charles’s doomed marriage to Diana, his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and Diana’s eating disorders.
Mr Fitzwilliams said the show portrays Charles as a ‘selfish, insecure wimp’, adding: ‘He is self pitying and brutal to Diana after, for example, her success in New York.
Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams (above) said William will ‘undoubtedly detest’ The Crown
‘His physicality is curious, it heightens the aura of inadequacy which this portrayal emphasizes. He is in love in Camilla but viewers will not sympathise with this portrayal.
‘It is made clear that he is a product of an extremely dysfunctional family.’
The expert added that Diana ‘comes across as someone who is deeply stressed, we see bouts of bulimia, because she is a victim’.
He said: ‘Gradually we see her spread her magic. She needs affection and to be appreciated. Emma Corrin is well cast in the role which is sympathetic.’
The Crown will cover events up to the early 2000s including the disasters of the 1990s in two more seasons.
And the royal expert said: ‘William will undoubtedly detest it. I think, if he watches it, he will see it as deeply intrusive and will think its portrayal of senior royals as so malign and ill-mannered as callous and the way it takes so many liberties with fact as deeply deplorable.
‘Harry is unlikely to see a clash between it and the Netflix deal which he and Meghan have made. He would probably argue that despite enormous dramatic licence the series has a vast audience, many of whom are fascinated by it and untroubled by how it ignores facts. Meghan won’t appear.
What royal experts say about The Crown
Richard Fitzwilliams: ‘William will undoubtedly detest it. I think, if he watches it, he will see it as deeply intrusive and will think its portrayal of senior royals as so malign and ill-mannered as callous and the way it takes so many liberties with fact as deeply deplorable.’
Ingrid Seward: ‘You mustn’t believe it, but watch it and enjoy it. But don’t take it as completely true… Because I suppose I’m something of a royal anorak, I think it’s pretty inaccurate.’
Dickie Arbiter: ‘The Crown is first and foremost entertainment, based on the events of the day, but the script is fiction, the words are fiction and some of the actions are fiction.’
Sally Beddell Smith: ‘The Crown is a work of fiction and the level of invention has been growing. While the earlier seasons were period pieces, series four is recent history, so it seems more cruel in its false depictions’
Tom Quinn: ‘That’s total nonsense [that Diana pursued Charles]. That really didn’t happen. It was much more subtle. According to my sources, Diana certainly didn’t accost Charles either in his car or anywhere else.’
Paul Burrell: ‘This is just a peek behind the doors of Buckingham Palace, that perhaps the palace don’t want you to see because this is the truth in many ways. It’s a fair and accurate dramatisation of what happened.’
‘They, as we know, were unhappy as senior royals and may agree with this derisory portrayal of the royal family as a rather sinister, uncaring and often cruel institution.’
The latest Crown season begins with Baroness Thatcher’s rise to power in 1979 and the assassination by the IRA of Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) during a fishing trip in Ireland.
Josh O’Connor returns as the Prince of Wales, with Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker-Bowles, Olivia Colman as the Queen, Tobias Menzies as the Duke of Edinburgh and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
Meanwhile former royal butler Paul Burrell has said season four of The Crown is a ‘fair and accurate dramatisation’ of the Royal Family’s treatment of Diana.
Burrell, Diana’s butler and one of her closest confidantes, said the new series showed ‘the truth in many ways’ and suggested the royal family would prefer if the tale had remained untold.
Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine, the 62-year-old said: ‘I think it’s the best series yet. It is spectacular. There are stellar performances form Emma Corrin as the young Diana and Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles. But of course I think the show is stolen by Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher.
‘But what a series. This is just a peek behind the doors of Buckingham Palace, that perhaps the palace don’t want you to see because this is the truth in many ways. It’s a fair and accurate dramatisation of what happened.’
Mr Burrell also recalled meeting Diana for the first time at Balmoral, the Scottish holiday home of the royal family.
Describing Corrin’s portrayal of the princess, he said: ‘I watch it from profile and I think it is her. I think she has got it exactly. Her mannerisms and the way she talks.
‘I am feeling it again. I am feeling her personality being dismantled behind the scenes by these people who don’t really care. They are all gods in their own kingdoms and they are just looking after themselves.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured in London on January 7. The couple have signed a multi-million-pound deal with Netflix
‘They didn’t take care of her. They didn’t give her praise. She only got negativity. She became a victim because of the way she was treated.’
Season four of The Crown documents the romance between Charles and Diana, including their first meeting when she was still at school, the engagement interview when he uttered the famous line ‘whatever in love means’, and their blockbuster wedding.
Referring to a previous segment on Lorraine, Mr Burrell added: ‘You were just talking just then with Dr Alex about mental health.
‘Well, it wasn’t understood back then but, boy, Diana was sure a case for someone suffering with mental health.’
It comes amid criticism of factual inaccuracies littered throughout the ten episodes, with royal expert Ingrid Seward saying it was ‘pretty inaccurate’.
She told Mirror Online: ‘I tell all my friends, it’s not a documentary, you mustn’t believe everything you see. It’s got a lot of poetic license.
‘The writer, Peter Morgan, has used that, obviously. You mustn’t believe it, but watch it and enjoy it. But don’t take it as completely true. But they do all believe it.
‘Because I suppose I’m something of a royal anorak, I think it’s pretty inaccurate. But to my mind, it never pretended it was going to be accurate.’
She criticised how it showed Princess Margaret and the Queen at ‘loggerheads’, because in real life ‘they were always so close and really supported each other’.
Meanwhile the Queen’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter told the Daily Mail: ‘The Crown is first and foremost entertainment, based on the events of the day, but the script is fiction, the words are fiction and some of the actions are fiction.’
Speaking about the controversial depiction of Diana’s battle with bulimia, he added: ‘You can’t ignore it, so if you’re doing a thing like The Crown, they try to be accurate, although they’re not making a very good job of it.’
It comes after friends of Charles launched a blistering attack on The Crown, accusing producers of the drama of ‘trolling on a Hollywood budget’.
Corrin (Diana) and O’Connor (Charles) in a scene from The Crown which came out yesterday
In The Mail On Sunday yesterday, some of the Prince’s closest confidantes accused the streaming giant of exploiting the Royal Family’s pain for financial gain and raged that ‘fiction is presented as fact’ in its twisted version of events.
In a series of highly unusual public interventions that demonstrates the depth of concern at the very top of the Royal Family, Palace insiders have lined up to slate the Netflix show.
‘This is drama and entertainment for commercial ends being made with no regard to the actual people involved who are having their lives hijacked and exploited,’ said one insider.
‘In this case, it’s dragging up things that happened during very difficult times 25 or 30 years ago without a thought for anyone’s feelings. That isn’t right or fair, particularly when so many of the things being depicted don’t represent the truth.’
The fourth series of the successful drama covers the years from Lord Mountbatten’s assassination in 1979 to the ousting of Margaret Thatcher in 1990.
Corrin in a scene from The Crown which has been criticised by royal experts for inaccuracies
But it is the depiction of a callous and self-serving Charles meeting and marrying an innocent Diana while maintaining his affair with the then married Camilla which has sparked such anger.
‘The new series paints the Prince and Duchess in a very unflattering light but at least at the start of reality shows like The Only Way Is Essex they admit that some scenes have been invented for entertainment,’ a Palace source said.
‘There is no sense of telling carefully nuanced stories – it’s all very two-dimensional. This is trolling with a Hollywood budget. The public shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is an accurate portrayal of what really happened.’
Scenes showing Diana gorging on food before vomiting into a toilet are so graphic that they will carry on-screen warnings.
The prospect of that – and the very public reminder of his parents’ bitter split – will no doubt also irritate Prince William, according to one insider.
‘The Duke of Cambridge is none too pleased with it. He feels that both his parents are being exploited and being presented in a false, simplistic way to make money,’ the source said.
The row – the most serious between a broadcaster and the Royal Family since the BBC apologised to the Queen in 2007 after it wrongly implied that she had stormed out of a photoshoot – will refocus attention on the deal sealed with Netflix by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle earlier this year. Some estimates have put its value at $100 million (£75 million).
‘There are raised eyebrows about Harry taking millions from the company that’s behind all this,’ said an insider.
‘After all where do much of Netflix’s profits come from? The Crown.’ Until now, the Royal Family has refused to comment on The Crown.
However, The Mail on Sunday understands that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were angry with previous series.
Philip was shown having an affair with a ballerina during the second series and, in the third, ignoring his mother, Princess Alice, when she came to live at Buckingham Palace in 1967. Neither happened.
As Prince Charles celebrated his 72nd birthday on Saturday, friends set out what they insist are gross inaccuracies in the new series.
Corrin and O’Connor are among the stars in The Crown season four which came out yesterday
Among them are scenes showing Charles verbally abusing his wife, and Diana confronting the Queen and the Prince of Wales about his affair at their wedding rehearsal at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The series suggests, also erroneously, that the affair between Charles and Camilla continued throughout his marriage to Diana.
In what is felt to be a particularly wounding fabrication, Charles’s beloved great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten is shown, shortly before his death at the hands of the IRA, telling the Prince that the family are disappointed at his relationship with Camilla and to find a wife. In the drama, Charles calls him a traitor. There is no evidence the exchange happened.
In another insidious fictional scene, Prince Philip issues a threat to Diana in 1990 after she suggests leaving Charles.
Sources said this appeared to be a clumsy reference to baseless conspiracy theories that he was somehow involved in the car crash in Paris that killed the Princess in August 1997.
One Palace source accused Netflix of failing to realise that there are still scars from Charles and Diana’s bitter split.
Olivia Colman (as the Queen) O’Connor and Corrin appear in the new series of The Crown
‘These events are not the history of 100 or even 50 years ago. The pain is still raw and not enough time has elapsed,’ the insider said.
‘Fiction becomes more attractive than fact and to dramatise these painful events of marriage breakdowns and children upset is very insensitive.’
Royal biographer Sally Beddell Smith said: ‘The Crown is a work of fiction and the level of invention has been growing. While the earlier seasons were period pieces, series four is recent history, so it seems more cruel in its false depictions.
‘Because The Crown is such a lavish and expensive production, and so much attention has been paid to visual details about historical events, viewers are tricked into believing that what they are seeing actually happened.
‘There should be a disclaimer at the start of each programme saying, ‘This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to those living or dead is purely coincidental.’ ‘
Accusing The Crown’s writer, Peter Morgan, of being ‘almost Trumpian with his alternative facts’, she added: ‘There has been extreme and egregious misrepresentation… Viewers should not be fooled. This is a Downton Abbey version of the Royal Family.’
Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher in season four of The Crown which is out on Netflix
Royal author Tom Quinn described some aspects of its portrayal of Diana as ‘nonsense’, according to The Sunday Express.
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski told the publication: ‘I very much regret that Netflix is seeking to profit from such a venture, which really rubs salt on to wounds. Every family has their emotional trauma and dramas. Having it blazed upon screens and watched like this is very intrusive.
‘I think a lot of people will feel very upset at the lack of care by Netflix. It will be interesting to see if people choose to cancel their subscriptions.’
And former Welsh Secretary and Vale of Glamorgan, Conservative MP Alun Cairns, said: ‘There is no doubt that whilst millions will enjoy watching The Crown, we need to be mindful that the programmes raise painful events that will have an impact on members of the Royal Family and others who were children or innocent bystanders.’
He added that viewers should remember that the TV series is a drama and not a documentary.
Neither Clarence House nor Kensington Palace have yet commented on the series.