After weeks of non-stop hype and worrying leaks about what to expect from its ‘storylines’, I knew The Crown was going to be bad.
But I had no idea it would be this bad.
As you’ll know if you binged the royal drama at the weekend like me, the fifth series is an all-out assault on the credibility, reputation, heart and soul of our beloved recently departed Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, the new monarch King Charles and his late ex-wife Princess Diana.
While all four, like most human beings, had their failings, Peter Morgan has set out on an all-out character assassination in his re-telling of the Windsor’s trials and tribulations during the troubled 1990s era, including the family’s annus horribilis.
I’d certainly hate to think that this dark turn in the highly influential hit show’s presentation of our Royal Family has anything to do with the streaming service signing Prince Harry as its most famous staff member, adorned with a £77 million deal.
Prince Harry (pictured here with wife Meghan Markle meeting with wellwishers outside Windsor Castle earlier this year) has a £77million deal with Netflix
Prince Charles and Princess Diana and their two children, Harry and William, as portrayed by Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West in The Crown
Pictured: Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, left, and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Phillip in a scene from hit Netflix series The Crown
The downright malicious presentation of the late Queen as cold, unloving and cruel is in stark contrast to the compassionate and pragmatic leader described by those who worked closely with her at the time.
It rankles me that Hollywood is prepared to damage the memory of our greatest ever monarch so soon after her devastating passing, not to mention the portrayal of her devoted husband Philip as an uncaring philanderer.
So surely their own grandson – well known for his various public brawls with media organisations who sully the reputation of his loved ones – must be catatonic with rage?
Especially in regards to the tawdry and factually inaccurate treatment of Diana, who is wrongly portrayed as a bad mum on a solo mission to bring down the monarchy.
After weeks of non-stop hype and worrying leaks about what to expect from its ‘storylines’, I knew The Crown was going to be bad. But I had no idea it would be this bad, writes Dan Wootton (pictured)
If The Crown was produced by any other media organisation, Harry would be firing out Archewell press statements, alerting his trigger-happy lawyers at Schillings, and giving heartrending interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King about how the horrible media is out to destroy his life.
Given he’s on the payroll, what do we have instead? A telling and deeply uncomfortable silence.
But if Prince Harry has the requisite moral fibre and decency, he must immediately prove he’s not a Hollywood hypocrite and quit Netflix.
Here’s the uncompromising resignation letter – imagined by me – that he should send its chief executive Ted Sarandos…
Dear Ted and the management of Netflix,
For many years, I have made clear that a priority for me is to ensure the memory of my mother is protected and that her tragic life and death is not commoditised by the media for commercial gain.
It is therefore ethically impossible that I continue working for your company after the broadcast of the fifth series of The Crown, which manipulates the dark final days of the late Princess Diana in order for you to gain subscriptions.
The new episodes imagine private conversations between me – someone who works for your company – and my mother that, quite simply, are deeply hurtful, suggesting that, as a seven-year-old, I took her side in what would become a traumatic divorce from my father.
But that’s just the beginning of the manipulation and lies, which include the recreation of private telephone conversations between William and my mother, suggesting that he was not supportive of her plight while a student at Eton.
While all four, like most human beings, had their failings, Peter Morgan has set out on an all-out character assassination in his re-telling of the Windsor’s trials and tribulations during the troubled 1990s era, including the family’s annus horribilis. Pictured: Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown
On the contrary, the relationship between my brother and our mother was as intertwined and close as one could be. We both only ever wanted her to be protected and happy.
Invented private counselling sessions attended by my mother are broadcast, as is the by now discredited Panorama interview, procured by illicit means by Martin Bashir for the BBC, smashing to pieces many years of work by my brother for its contents to be consigned to history, given the clearly duplicitous and dodgy circumstances in which the interview took place.
Most hurtfully, my mother is shown trying to bring down the monarchy, another distortion of the record.
While she was deeply upset with my father, she always remained supportive of the Crown and Her Late Majesty, referring to her as ‘my mama’.
My late mother and father’s chance meeting at Kensington Palace following their divorce was cordial and mature, but The Crown turns it into another nasty slanging match.
Indeed, your treatment of my father King Charles is even more callous.
Ted Sarandos (pictured), the chief executive of streaming giant Netflix
The former Prime Minister John Major has recently confirmed that your concocted storyline claiming he actively lobbied for his mother to abdicate is nothing more than malicious nonsense.
Meanwhile, the late Queen is shown hectoring and making demands of Prime Minister Major, drifting apart from my grandfather and acting in a cold manner towards her closest relatives.
You’ve got her all wrong and it’s unconscionable to me you could broadcast this tripe so soon after the entire world came together to mark her death.
This weekend, I learned with the rest of the world that my late grandfather Prince Philip was so angry about his false portrayal surrounding the death of his older sister in an earlier series that he consulted his lawyers at Farrer & Co. It is imperative for me to honour his memory.
What would be especially troubling to me is if you intend to use the publicity and hype generated by this most recent series of The Crown to launch my own reality series made with my wife The Duchess of Sussex.
I understand The Crown is a drama, but that is not how it is viewed by the tens of millions of young people around the world who take its content as sacrosanct, especially given you continue to refuse overwhelming demands, including from the British government and Dame Judi Dench, to run a disclaimer at the start of each episode explaining that the series is fictitious and only loosely based on real events.
The Crown is now causing damage to my family and the monarchy itself.
Therefore, I ask that my Netflix contract be terminated with immediate effect and that you respectfully agree not to broadcast my reality series before the coronation of my father King Charles.
He is grieving his mother and deserves this time to start his reign without additional stress.
I must put the good of my father, my family, our beloved country and the monarchy ahead of my personal ambitions.
Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex