Season four of The Crown sees tensions among the royal household reach fever pitch, with Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage already on the rocks, and the royal family seemingly unable to support an unhappy and isolated Diana.
Whether any royals will want to tune in a watch this coming season remains unknown. But past seasons have presented the British royal family more favourably (writer Peter Morgan even claimed that penning the series turned him into a monarchist), and it appears that some royals have even tuned in to watch them.
But has Queen Elizabeth II watched The Crown, and what does she think of it? Has Prince Charles seen the Netflix biopic?
Has The Queen watched The Crown? Does she approve?
Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t confirmed whether or not she’s watched The Crown (nor would we expect her to), but others seem to suggest that she has watched it – but whether or not she approves remains another matter…
In 2017, the Sunday Express reported that the Queen had watched the first season at the urging of her youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Not only that, but the Queen reportedly “really liked” what she saw.
“Edward and Sophie love The Crown,” a senior royal source said. “It has been a longstanding arrangement that they drive to Windsor at the weekend to join the Queen for an informal supper while watching TV or a film. They have a Netflix account and urged her to watch it with them. Happily, she really liked it, although obviously there were some depictions of events that she found too heavily dramatised.”
This story was apparently confirmed by none other than Princess Eugenie, the Queen’s granddaughter and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s second child.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret in seasons one and two) said: “A friend of mine was at a party and didn’t know anyone, so he sidled up to this group who were talking about The Crown, when one said, ‘Well, my granny watches it and really likes it.’ It slowly dawned on him that the girl was [Princess] Eugenie and her granny was the queen.”
However, the Queen isn’t a fan of every storyline depicted in The Crown. She was reportedly unhappy with how young Prince Philip (Matt Smith) was portrayed as unsympathetic to school-age Prince Charles.
“The queen realises that many who watch The Crown take it as an accurate portrayal of the royal family and she cannot change that,” a senior courtier reported to the Express. “But I can convey that she was upset by the way Prince Philip is depicted as being a father insensitive to his son’s well-being. She was particularly annoyed at a scene in which Philip has no sympathy for a plainly upset Charles while he is flying him home from Scotland. That simply did not happen.”
It seems we’ll never know for sure whether or not the Queen approves. Her communication secretary, Donal McCabe, previously sent a strongly worded statement to The Guardian, indicating that the royal household “would never express a view” on The Crown’s accuracy.
“Your article… may have the unfortunate consequence of leading your readers to believe that the television series The Crown is made with some sort of endorsement by the royal household, or an acceptance by the royal household that the drama is factually accurate,” the statement read. “We appreciate that readers of the Guardian may enjoy this fictionalised interpretation of historical events but they should do so knowing that the royal household is not complicit in interpretations made by the program. The royal household has never agreed to vet or approve content, has not asked to know what topics will be included, and would never express a view as to the program’s accuracy.”
Which British royals have watched The Crown?
While it’s already been suggested that the Queen may have watched The Crown alongside her youngest son, Prince Edward, have any other royals watched the Netflix series?
Princess Anne has said that she had found the series “quite interesting”. Speaking during the ITV documentary Anne: The Princess at 70, she also joked about her on-screen depiction, currently played by Erin Doherty in The Crown cast.
Doherty had told Town & Country that her princess hair-do took as long as “two hours”. However, it seems that the real-life Princess Anne has read that same article – and was left bemused by it.
In the ITV documentary, she said: “Actually I read an article the other day about The Crown, the actress was talking about how long it took them to do their hair like I did. And I’m thinking, ‘How could you possibly take that long?’ I mean it takes me 10 or 15 minutes.”
Seasons three and four of The Crown introduces Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince Charles’ future second wife and The Duchess of Cornwall.
The real-life Duchess of Cornwall has apparently seen the show’s earlier seasons, but prior to the release season three, Camilla allegedly expressed private worries about her on-screen portrayal.
In November 2019, the Duchess of Cornwall’s nephew, Ben Elliot, told Vanity Fair that his aunt “wasn’t looking forward to the bits to come”. He also apparently hinted that Camilla may have watched The Crown alongside Prince Charles while staying at Scottish estate Birkhall.
Which British royals definitely don’t watch The Crown?
While some members of the royal family have neither confirmed nor denied watching The Crown, others have categorically said that they haven’t watched the series – and don’t intend to. These royals include Prince Philip and his grandson, Prince William.
Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip in The Crown seasons one and two, told The Guardian that a friend of his had attended a dinner party hosted by the Queen and Prince Philip, and had been sat next to the latter. “What do you do?” said Philip. “Are you involved in this… Crown thing?”
The friend eventually asked: ““Philip, I’m just wondering, because I have some friends who made The Crown, have you watched any?” The Duke stopped and glowered: ‘Don’t. Be. Ridiculous.'”
Smith said of Prince Philip: “Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I just think he’s a bit of a cool cat. And that’s what I love about him: he’s done what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, with whom he wants. He hasn’t asked permission. And his wife’s the Queen.”
Meanwhile Olivia Colman revealed that she previously met Prince William and (briefly) discussed The Crown. Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, she said: “I met Prince William at a dinner, and he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, ‘Actually, I know what you’re doing.’ I was so excited and asked, ‘Have you watched it?’ His answer was a firm, ‘No.'”