What The Royal Family Actually Thinks Of 'The Crown'

As one of the most popular series of the last decade, The Crown is lauded by fans and critics alike. But what does the royal family think about The Crown? After all, the show is about real people. Queen Elizabeth II and her family, as well as their struggles to maintain private lives in very public roles, take center stage in the Netflix drama. Some of it is true; some of it is not. But regardless of how accurate it actually is, The Crown pulls back the curtain to study the humans behind the monarchy.

Everyone in the British royal family apparently has different opinions about The Crown. Some of them - like the Duchess of Cornwall - are amused by the concept, unbothered by the baseless untruths or painful truths it depicts. Others - like Prince William - are reportedly alarmed by how the show portrays beloved family members or misrepresents the past. These opinions have been voiced directly by members of the family through interviews, or they've been leaked through anonymous sources or hearsay. Whether enthusiastic or appalled, indifferent or cautious, the queen and her family seem to recognize that The Crown is powerful entertainment, for better or for worse.

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  • Prince Harry Prefers The Show To The British Press
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    Prince Harry Prefers The Show To The British Press

    As of Season 4 of The Crown - which takes place mainly in the 1980s - Prince Harry isn't a fully formed character yet - he appears as a child in the background. But even if he isn't featured, his parents' painful marriage is, and the show dramatizes everything from their incompatability to their infidelity.

    The Crown's depiction of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's toxic relationship - and the royal family's mistreatment of Diana - doesn't bother Harry. As he told James Corden on The Late Late Show:

    They don't pretend to be news. It's fictional. But it's loosely based on the truth... I'm way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family or my wife or myself. Because... [The Crown] is obviously fiction, take it how you will. But this is being reported on as fact because you're supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.

    Harry's relative ease with the show may be secured by the fact that it won't directly feature his relationship with Meghan Markle, the British press's negative coverage of her, or their departure from royal duties in 2020. Show creator and writer Peter Morgan clarified for The Hollywood Reporter:

    I just think you get so much more interesting [with time]. Meghan and Harry are in the middle of their journey, and I don't know what their journey is or how it will end. One wishes some happiness, but I'm much more comfortable writing about things that happened at least 20 years ago.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Apparently 'Really Liked' The Show... Until She Didn't
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    Queen Elizabeth II Apparently 'Really Liked' The Show... Until She Didn't

    The central character of The Crown is Queen Elizabeth II, who must balance her roles as head of state and matriarch to a family of privileged royals. Though the show takes liberties with certain aspects of her life, other parts - such as her feelings about the Aberfan disaster in 1966 - are documented. Overall, The Crown tends to paint a relatively sympathetic portrait of the queen as an individual trapped in an institution, but it has become more critical of her in later seasons.

    What did the queen think about the show? According to a "senior royal source," she watched the first season with her son Edward and daughter-in-law Sophie and "really liked it, although obviously there were some depictions of events that she found too heavily dramatized."

    Actor Vanessa Kirby - who portrayed Princess Margaret in Seasons 1 and 2 - has given some evidence that Elizabeth enjoyed the show - but it's all based on hearsay. As she told Vanity Fair:

    A friend of mine was at a party and didn't know anymore, so he sidled up to this group who were talking about The Crown, when one said, "Well, my granny watches it and really likes it." It slowly dawned on him that the girl was [Princess] Eugenie and her granny was the queen.

    Elizabeth's enthusiasm apparently dampened considerably after the first season, when the show became increasingly critical of Prince Philip and his insistence that Prince Charles attend the spartan Gordonstoun boarding school, Philip's alma mater. In a statement to The Express, one unnamed "senior palace official" shared:

    I can convey that [the queen] was upset by the way Prince Philip is depicted as being a father insensitive to his son's well-being. She was particularly annoyed at a scene in which Philip has no sympathy for a plainly upset Charles while he is flying him home from Scotland. That simply did not happen.

    Another report indicates that the queen did not, in fact, watch the show at all. 

  • Prince William Reportedly Thinks His Parents Are Being Exploited For Entertainment
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    Prince William Reportedly Thinks His Parents Are Being Exploited For Entertainment

    As the second-in-line to the throne, Prince William understands that his job is to support the family business. Indeed, his role in the royal family has prompted many to wonder if he has seen the show and what he thinks of it.

    Oscar-winning actor Alicia Vikander, who met Prince William at an official event during his royal tour of her native Sweden, even tried to gauge his opinions on the show. She revealed in W Magazine: "Well, I've seen The Crown. It was actually the first thing my friend and I started talking about with William... Apparently he's a Game of Thrones fan."

    Olivia Colman, who starred as Queen Elizabeth II in Seasons 3 and 4, also took an opportunity to measure his thoughts, recounting on The Graham Norton Show:

    I met Prince William at a dinner and he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, "Actually, I know what you're doing." I was so excited and asked, "Have you watched it?" His answer was a firm "No." But he was very charming and very lovely.

    It turns out that Prince William doesn't feel the need to watch the show in order to have strong opinions about it - especially after Season 4, which heavily focused on his parents' disastrous relationship. A source who claims to be a friend of Prince Charles told the Daily Mail:

    The Duke of Cambridge is none too pleased about [the show]. He feels that both his parents are being exploited and being presented in a false, simplistic way to make money.

  • Philip Reportedly Implied It Would Be 'Ridiculous' If He Watched It At All
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    Philip Reportedly Implied It Would Be 'Ridiculous' If He Watched It At All

    Since the beginning, The Crown hasn't really done Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, any favors: It's portrayed him as an insecure, insensitive, dismissive, entitled, and emotionally stunted cad who can't bear the fact that he is his wife's subject. In Season 2, the show also heavily implies that Philip had an affair, a plot point that is not based on documented fact.

    It's probably a good thing, then, that the late Prince Philip reportedly didn't watch the show at all. When speaking to The Observer, actor Matt Smith - who portrays Philip in Seasons 1 and 2 - relayed a story he heard from an acquaintance who met Philip. The acquaintance asked him if he had seen the show. As Smith recounted, Philip gave the person a look that said, "Don't. Be. Ridiculous."

  • Camilla Parker Bowles Allegedly Has A 'Sense Of Humor' That's Allowed Her To Enjoy Watching It
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    Camilla Parker Bowles Allegedly Has A 'Sense Of Humor' That's Allowed Her To Enjoy Watching It

    Seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown began to explore one of the most controversial relationships in the royal family - the one between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. The show portrays Charles as instantly smitten with Parker Bowles, who is torn between her affection for him and another man. In a move with no basis in fact, The Crown suggests that the royal family tore the couple apart, destroying Charles's chance of happiness and paving the road for his ill-fated relationship with the more-suitable Lady Diana Spencer.

    As portrayed by Emerald Fennell, Camilla on The Crown is confident, plucky, and sure of herself, something the character seems to have in common with the real Duchess of Cornwall.

    In fact, the real Camilla has apparently gamely watched the show. As Vanity Fair reported in 2020, one of her alleged friends claimed that she was looking forward to Season 4:

    I imagine she'll be tuning in with a glass of red wine to watch it; she has seen the previous series. She has a wonderful sense of humor and this won't fuss her in the slightest.

    Camilla's nephew Ben Elliott struck a slightly different tone when he told Vanity Fair that his aunt "wasn't looking forward to the bits to come" ahead of Season 3.

  • Edward And Sophie Reportedly Love 'The Crown' And Set Up Watch Parties With The Queen
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    Edward And Sophie Reportedly Love 'The Crown' And Set Up Watch Parties With The Queen

    The biggest fans of The Crown in the royal family seem to be Queen Elizabeth's youngest son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex. One anonymous "senior royal source" told the Sunday Express that the couple - who enjoyed a very good relationship with the queen - watched The Crown with Elizabeth as part of their weekly entertainment:

    Edward and Sophie love The Crown. It has been a longstanding arrangement that they drive to Windsor [Castle] at the weekend to join the queen for an informal supper while watching TV or a film. They have a Netflix account and urged her to watch it with them. Happily, she really liked it, although obviously there were some depictions of events that she found too heavily dramatized.

    It's unclear if the royal couple are still enthusiastic about the show, based on its later seasons. Prince Edward the character makes his first appearance in Season 4: He is portrayed as a picked-on, entitled teenager.