The cast of “The Crown” Season 5 has issued the final ruling on the controversy surrounding the upcoming season.
The fifth season, which premieres November 9 on Netflix, has caused a stir following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. As Prince Charles was crowned king, insiders claimed the royal family views the upcoming season as “exploitative,” as it primarily deals with Charles’ (Dominic West) marriage to Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki).
Former Prime Minister John Major issued a formal complaint about a Season 5 episode suggesting that, in 1991, Charles complained to Major about waiting to take over the throne. Dame Judi Dench found the new season “cruelly unjust” and called on Netflix to issue a statement reminding viewers the series is a “fictionalized drama.”
Now the new cast of “The Crown” is defending the series.
Jonathan Pryce, who took over as Prince Philip from Tobias Menzies, told Deadline that the criticisms “came about because of an enhanced sensitivity because of the passing of the Queen.” While Pryce understood Major “voicing his disquiet because he was there,” he could not defend Dench’s take.
“I’m hugely disappointed by my fellow artists,” Pryce said. “The vast majority of people know it’s a drama. They’ve been watching it for four seasons.”
Pryce stood by “The Crown” creator Peter Morgan’s depiction of Prince Philip, saying that the late royal had “enormous admiration” for his wife, the Queen, but “as you know, in any long relationship, you’re going to have a quibble about things now and then.”
“Part of the joy of Season 5 is that you see some of those [frustrations] even in his 70s, you see some of those frustrations being voiced,” Pryce said.
Co-star Lesley Manville, who plays Princess Margaret, said there has been a “great deal of compassion towards the Queen” on set, with production pausing after her death. “I wouldn’t be involved with something that I felt was crossing the line. I don’t think the series does at all,” Manville said. “We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors with the Royal family and that’s what the series explores. Yes, there are some events depicted that we all know about, but it’s behind closed doors; what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling? [Showrunner] Peter Morgan can only create and invent.”
Manville added, “We are not making a documentary because we are dealing with people whose lives are incredibly well documented. It would be boring to do that.”
Imelda Staunton, who takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth II from Olivia Colman, shared that it is “understandable” audiences’ “nerve endings are still a little bit raw” in the wake of the Queen’s death. Yet that doesn’t make the series “undignified” in its approach.
“We think it’s honest and true and respectful. Peter Morgan’s been writing about the Queen since Helen Mirren [was in ‘The Queen’]. He obviously adores this family in many ways, and he’ll show both sides of the characters, for good or for worse,” Staunton said. “He’ll show them and make no judgment, he’ll leave that up to the audience.”
The streamer added a disclaimer to the Season 5 series description for the latest trailer, saying, “Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatization tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.”
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