Weird History

Here's Everything 'The Crown' Just Got Straight-Up Wrong About History

Netflix’s The Crown is an addictive blend of pulp and prestige that charts Queen Elizabeth II's time on the throne. But how much of it is accurate? Yes, The Crown gets many scandalous things right about Queen Elizabeth’s life and the British Royal Family, like Princess Margaret, Porchie, and Louis Mountbatten. But, because of those facts The Crown got right, along with the overall historcial accuracy and the jaw-dropping production value, audiences may wrongly assume that the show is a reliable history lesson.

The lavish series spares no expense in its dramatization of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Indeed, critics, The Crown cast, and historians alike point out that The Crown really does take history seriously - the creators and writers have clearly done their research. But, every now and then, inaccuracies in The Crown rear their head. Just as often as it faithfully portrays actual events as they happened, such as the Aberfan Disaster, the show also bends the truth and relies on rumors to flesh out storylines and characterizations. Shows like The Crown revel in the murky, hearsay-saturated space between fact and fiction, where it can turn gossip into entire plots. Sure, there’s plenty of fun and drama in that, but not much verifiable, evidence-based history.

Now in its third season, the show continues to have a rocky relationship with the past. As in the previous seasons, Season 3 inaccuracies mount up, suggesting the show still prioritizes rumor over fact. 

What does the queen think of The Crown? Though she reportedly enjoyed the first season, chances are her opinion will go downhill if she ever gets around to watching the second one - the show does her husband no favors. The series embellishes plenty of events for its narratives, and often those embellishments come at the expense of Prince Philip’s character. The fictionalized Duke of Edinburgh is portrayed as a petulant, vain, and downright obnoxious character who makes Queen Elizabeth’s life unfairly difficult.

Completely accurate or not, The Crown makes history look glamorous as it re-creates and straight-up creates events from Elizabeth’s life and the United Kingdom’s past.