Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has described the portrayal of Prince Philip in The Crown series two as “unfair”.
The Netflix hit’s second series depicts Prince Philip – who was played by Matt Smith – as having a strained relationship with the Queen, and insinuates that he was unfaithful in the early years of their marriage.
The Duke of Edinburgh is also seen as being very strict on his son, Prince Charles, as a consequence of his own disciplined upbringing.
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“It was beautifully acted, beautifully written,” Fellowes told Katie Couric on her podcast. “For me, I’m not completely comfortable with dramatising people who are still alive and still living their lives. Because I think it’s possible to be unfair.
“And in the second series, I didn’t think it was fair to Prince Philip, to the Duke of Edinburgh, based on very little.”
He went on to say that The Crown has earned its merit, but that Prince Philip didn’t “deserve” his treatment on the show. “Now I’ll be punished for that because it’s a great success and it deserves to be,” he said.
“I don’t know. I think when people are still alive, living their lives, doing a good job and popular and loved, do they deserve it? And in that sense, I’m not sure they do.”
When asked whether he thinks The Crown stretches its artistic licence in terms of its characters and plot, Fellowes replied: “You’re getting me into a tricky area here.
“I think that a lot of it was based on obviously very good research, but some of it was not. Some of it was extrapolation from a rumour or someone’s rather prejudiced account. And then it was presented as fact. I’m not sure that’s just.”
However Fellowes was very keen to express his admiration for The Crown’s writer. “I’m a big fan of Peter Morgan, I repeat that,” he said. “I think he’s the best writer on television at the moment. And it’s deservedly successful as far as I’m concerned.”
The Crown series three is currently in production and is expected to land on Netflix in 2019. Tobias Menzies will take over from Smith to play Prince Philip, starring opposite Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.