Netflix has been accused of trolling the Royal Family after a ‘sinister’ post on its official social media account prompted a wave of online hate.
Senior palace sources reacted with anger to the tweet, which invited viewers to watch a documentary on Princess Diana which they claimed would provide ‘answers’ to criticism of its flagship drama The Crown.
It was accompanied by a video that paints the Duchess of Cornwall in a particularly unedifying light.
The post has attracted a string of vile messages directed towards the Royal Family, which are still online despite the Daily Mail alerting Netflix to them more than 24 hours ago.
In damning clips of Diana used in ‘sinister’ trailer for the Netflix documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, Diana is heard saying: ‘You may recall me sobbing…’
‘…that was nothing to do with him going [on a royal tour]…’ but after Camilla called him before his trip. The documentary is based on audio tapes she secretly made for biographer Andrew Morton
Most of the comments are unprintable, targeted not just at Charles and Camilla, but also the Queen and Prince Philip.
Critics have said The Crown’s account of the breakdown of Prince Charles’s marriage to Diana is ‘distorted and at times downright inaccurate’.
A royal insider said: ‘It’s one thing to make a drama that not even the writer claims is entirely factual, but for Netflix to use its corporate social channels to create and post material that is one-sided at best feels like corporate trolling – it’s pretty sinister.’
Now Conservative peer Lord Forsyth of Drumlean has accused the US streaming giant of ‘crossing a line’.
Diana is heard saying ‘I was devastated’ after opening a parcel to find a bracelet which she was told Charles was going to give Camilla
He said would raise the issue in the House of Lords and with the Prime Minister directly.
Yesterday he wrote to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom complaining of the ‘hurtful, false, misleading and poisonous impression of people in our public life who cannot fight back’. He called for Netflix to be regulated in the UK in line with other broadcasters.
Lord Forsyth said: ‘What they are doing is absolutely shocking. It is mendacious and it is untrue. And as every day goes by without any action on the issue, more and more people are seeing this programme, and unfortunately people believe this stuff to be fact.
In another clip, Diana says: ‘He absolutely cut me dead … it was hot and cold’. Critics have said The Crown’s account of the breakdown of Prince Charles’s marriage to Diana is ‘distorted and at times downright inaccurate’
‘If Netflix are also using a corporate account in that way [to deliberately publicise negative programmes about the Royal Family] then the case for regulation is even stronger.’
He added: ‘They [Netflix] can’t continue to say, “This is drama, this is not our fault”. They are clearly using a programme which is sensationalist and mendacious to promote their commercial interests.
‘The royals do not have a right to reply. This is damaging, nasty and unpleasant stuff.’
Series four of The Crown, which covers Charles and Diana’s engagement, marriage and break-up, has been engulfed by controversy.
Recounting a ‘tricky’ lunch, Diana says Camilla asked if she was going to hunt with Charles and adds: ‘I was too immature to understand the messages coming my way’
Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles pictured together at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles was competing in 1980
Critics fear, given the series previous reputation for historic research and attention to detail, that viewers are being misled into believing its fictionalised account of recent events are fact.
Government sources confirmed that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has now written to Netflix to say The Crown should be clearly presented as a work of fiction.
But there are serious concerns – both in and out of the palace – that the show has already done irrevocable damage to the monarchy.
Diana says she told her sisters: ‘I can’t marry him’ and they said it was too late. A royal insider said: ‘For Netflix to use its corporate social channels to create and post material that is one-sided at best feels like corporate trolling – it’s pretty sinister’
And Netflix has now used one of its Twitter accounts, NetflixFilm, to promote a documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, based on audio tapes she secretly made for biographer Andrew Morton. Its tweet stated: ‘The documentary answers much of what you’re asking.’
The post was accompanied by carefully edited real footage with a voiceover by the late princess, painting Camilla in a negative light. The account has more than half million followers and is also regularly promoted by the streaming platform’s main account, which has more than nine million fans on Twitter alone.
Netflix declined to comment when asked this week if it had a vendetta against the Royal Family or whether it was appropriate for a corporate account to advertise its programmes in this way.
Clarence House forced to silence Twitter critics
Clarence House has been forced to disable the comments on its social media accounts because so many abusive remarks have been made about Charles and Camilla due to The Crown.
Since the new Netflix series premiered in mid-November, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s Twitter and Instagram feeds have been inundated with vile comments about the couple, directly referencing the Netflix programme.
Although this has happened occasionally over the years, the volume and vitriol is something royal aides haven’t seen in more than a decade.
Target: Prince Charles and Camilla’s Twitter profile
Insiders are concerned the programme risks turning public opinion against the couple, who have worked so hard to win the nation over. Camilla, in particular, has won plaudits for getting stuck into official duties and tackling issues such as violence against women. She has also been praised for her warmth and ‘common touch’ on engagements.
Charles has also been lauded for his public work, particularly on the environment and climate change – issues he has campaigned on for more than 40 years.
Now there is a risk their work could have been unfairly damaged by the programme. Tory peer Lord Forsyth yesterday highlighted the fact that Clarence House had been forced to turn off its social media comments in a letter to media regulator Ofcom.
He wrote to the watchdog: ‘The Crown is a very impressive production with superb performances by extremely talented actors. This of course makes the fact that it is riddled with untruths all the more dangerous as viewers are unable to distinguish fact from damaging fiction.
‘I understand that Clarence House have had to close their social media outlet because of the abuse being generated as a result of the misrepresentation. Does Ofcom regard this as a satisfactory situation?’
He told the Mail: ‘The Duchess of Cornwall has served the nation admirably in recent years. She’s been brilliant, actually.
‘Imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end of that kind of abuse? It’s terrible.’