fact or fiction?

U.K. Culture Secretaries Think Netflix Needs to Clearly Label The Crown Fiction

Photo: Netflix

Update, December 15: The U.K. government is continuing to get its panties in a twist over how The Crown is labeled on Netflix. Per Deadline, a parliamentary committee hearing on December 14 widely discussed the topic, with Culture Minister John Whittingdale asserting that it “does no harm” for the streaming service to label the series as fiction. Amusingly, Whittingdale was called “a bit of a twit” by his colleagues (not uncommon demeanor for the setting) for suggesting that British people “needed a health warning about The Crown” prior to watching the show, although he maintained his stance. “These are events that are quite raw and controversial, and they involve people such as the existing Prince of Wales and his sons,” Whittingdale explained. “It is not unhelpful to remind people … that this is not based on any insider knowledge, but is a dramatization of somebody’s speculation or imagination as to what might have happened.” The committee hearing ended without a majority stance on the matter.

Update, December 6: A spokesperson for Netflix told Variety that the streaming service has “no plans — and see no need — to add a disclaimer,” because they “have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events.” We, on the other hand, would like to petition for a disclaimer that the Phantom of the Opera birthday performance actually did happen.

November 29, 2020: Whether it’s the show’s depiction of Diana’s struggle to assimilate into the royal family, or actor Josh O’Connor’s “punchable” depiction of the prince of Wales, The Crown’s fourth season covers a lot of ground many viewers were alive to experience in real time. Still, if you’re like us, you aren’t getting through a full episode without Googling “Did this actually happen?” once or thrice about, say, whether Charles really hated Di’s “Uptown Girl” performance that much. Which is presumably why the United Kingdom’s secretary of State for digital, culture, media, and sport spoke up this weekend and lobbied for Netflix to slap a “fiction” label on the show. “It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Daily Mail. “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Dowden is reportedly expected to submit a request to the streaming platform asking that each episode of the series carry a “warning” clarifying that The Crown is a fictionalized take on real events. According to the Mail, the request allegedly stems from fears that fictionalized scenes from writer Peter Morgan are “doing lasting damage to the monarchy,” an interesting concern considering the show doesn’t even include Prince Charles’s “Tampongate,” and a lot of us had to live through that IRL.

UK Culture Secretary: The Crown Needs to Be Labeled Fiction