Dame Judi Dench has written a scathing public letter ripping “The Crown” as “cruelly unjust” and “hurtful” to the still-grieving royal family.
The Oscar-winning actress wrote to The Times of London to add her voice to growing, long-running calls for the Netflix series to carry clear viewer warnings that it is a work of fiction.
Dench — a friend of Queen Consort Camilla — said it was particularly important “for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved” with the death last month of longest-serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
In her letter, the 87-year-old actress warned that “the latest series of ‘The Crown’ will present an inaccurate and hurtful account of history.”
“Indeed, the closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely it seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” she wrote.
While praising the royal drama for its “brilliant but fictionalized account of events,” she said she feared “a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true.”
“Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series — that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence — this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent,” she wrote.
“No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”
Her letter ended by ripping Netflix for so-far refusing to carry disclaimers confirming that the show is “fictionalized drama.”
“The time has come for Netflix to reconsider — for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve its reputation in the eyes of its British subscribers,” she wrote.
The actress’ letter is just the latest call for such a disclaimer, with senior UK politicians among those who have previously demanded one.
She noted former Prime Minister Sir John Major, who recently called “The Crown” a “barrel-load of nonsense” after he was featured in a made-up scene in which Charles lobbied him to force his mother’s abdication.
However, the show reiterated its stance this week that it did not need a disclaimer “has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.”
“Series five is a fictional dramatization, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family — one that has already been scrutinized and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians,” a rep told the BBC.
The show previously insisted it had “every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events.”
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