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Late Queen’s childhood friend says The Crown is ‘unfair’ to royal family

Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales from season five of The Crown. (Keith Bernstein/Netflix/PA)
Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales from season five of The Crown. (Keith Bernstein/Netflix/PA)

A childhood friend of the late Queen has said The Crown makes her “so angry” as she feels it is “unfair” to members of the royal family.

Lady Glenconner, who was a maid of honour at Elizabeth II’s coronation and a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret for many decades, criticised the Netflix royal drama in an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

She described the show as a “complete fantasy” and feels that despite the streamer’s warning that it is a “fictionalised drama”, she feels people will still believe it is true.

The Crown Season 5
Netflix, of Imelda Staunton, who has taken over the role of the Queen from Olivia Colman (Netflix/PA)

She told Woman’s Hour: “I don’t watch The Crown now as it just makes me so angry and it’s so unfair on members of the royal family.”

Lady Glenconner referred to an episode in series two which implied that the Duke of Edinburgh was blamed for his sister Cecilie taking the flight that resulted in her death in a plane crash in 1937.

She said this was “completely untrue”, adding: “I think to say something like that about people is terribly hurting. I mean, nobody wants to have their relations trashed like that.”

The former lady-in-waiting also branded scenes involving the late Queen’s sister as “ridiculous”.

In the third series, Princess Margaret was shown trading dirty limericks with US president Lyndon B Johnson in 1965, to which Lady Glenconner said “of course, she never did that”.

She recalled how Helen Bonham Carter also came to visit her and chatted with her for two hours to learn details about Princess Margaret ahead of portraying her in series three and four.

After the series aired, she saw Bonham Carter again and the actress asked her “What did you think?” to which Lady Glenconner told her: “Well, rather disappointing.”

She recalled that Bonham Carter replied: “I know but the thing is, I’m an actress and I have to do what’s written for me.”

The Crown Season 5
Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret (Keith Bernstein/Netflix/PA)

Dame Judi Dench and former prime minister Sir John Major also recently criticised reported storylines in the new series which launched earlier this month.

Last month, Dame Judi, 87, argued The Crown had begun to verge on “crude sensationalism” and Sir John, 79, is said to have described some of the forthcoming scenes as “malicious nonsense”.

A spokesman for Sir Tony Blair described another scene, in which Charles is reportedly shown trying to recruit the politician as an ally to protect his future, as “complete and utter rubbish”.

Netflix added a disclaimer to the description of the trailer for series five, but stopped short of adding the message to the trailer itself.

The streamer has already described the show as “fictionalised drama” in its press materials, on social media and on The Crown’s landing page on its platform.

Asked about the disclaimer label being used by Netflix, Lady Glenconner said: “The trouble is that people, especially in America, believe it is completely and there’s nothing much one can do about it really.”

For the latest series of the show, Imelda Staunton has taken over from Olivia Colman as the Queen, with Dominic West, playing the then Prince of Wales, now the King.

Elizabeth Debicki stars as Diana, being handed the baton by Emma Corrin and Lesley Manville plays Princess Margaret.