Friends of Prince Charles have launched an unprecedented briefing war on the hit Netflix drama The Crown, accusing it of presenting “fiction” as fact and “trolling on a Hollywood budget.”
Now its creator, Peter Morgan, has admitted that key scenes in the first episode of the new series which Charles’ beloved great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, writes to Charles and orders him to stop his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and marry a “well-tempered girl” are simply “made up.”
In the official The Crown podcast, Morgan, however, defended the use of creative license in the show, saying he believed the scene “rang true” based on his research and reading of the relationship between the two men.
In the first episode of the fourth series, released on Sunday, Charles and Mountbatten argue over his relationship with Camilla, who at the time was married to Andrew Parker-Bowles.
Viewers then see Mountbatten writing a letter accusing Charles of bringing “ruin and disappointment” to his family, and demanding he drops Camilla to marry “some sweet and innocent well-tempered girl with no past.” Charles only receives the letter after learning that Mountbatten has been assassinated by the IRA in August 1979. The episode is totally fictional, there is no record of any such letter being written (although Prince Philip is known to have written a letter to Charles telling him he should marry Diana after the relationship became public, and that may be where Morgan got some of his inspiration.)
In the new podcast, Morgan expressed no regret about the scenes, saying, “What we know is that Mountbatten was really responsible for taking Charles to one side at precisely this point and saying, ‘Look, you know, enough already with playing the field, it’s time you got married and it’s time you provided an heir’.”
Morgan added: “As the heir I think there was some concern that he should settle down, marry the appropriate person and get on with it. In my own head I thought that would have even greater impact on Charles if it were to come post-mortem, as it were.
“I think everything that’s in that letter which Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe, based on everything I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to, that represents his view.
“We will never know if it was put into a letter, and we will never know if Charles got that letter before or after Mountbatten’s death, but in this particular drama, this is how I decided to deal with it.”
The royals have suffered previous series of The Crown in silence but the new series has prompted briefings.
One insider, for example, said: “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.
“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.”
A Palace source told the Mail on Sunday: “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. 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.”