The Crown may be a retelling of real events – but it’s also a work of fiction.
Netflix’s hit royal drama stirred up a wave of controversy when it released its fourth season in November 2020, attracting criticism from figures including former UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
Its depictions of a number of events in the life of the royal family have been scrutinised by viewers, with particular scepticism directed at scenes concerning Prince Charles’s (Josh O’Connor) relationships with Diana (Emma Corrin) and Camilla Parker-Bowles (Emerald Fennell).
How exactly did The Crown depict this relationship on screen?
Several actors have portrayed Charles in The Crown at various stages of his life. Billy Jenkins played a young Prince Charles in season one and the first part of two, before he was replaced by Julian Baring, who played Charles throughout his adolescence.
In season three and four, the man who later became king is played by Josh O’Connor. In the forthcoming fifth season, the role will be taken over by Dominic West.
The Crown depicts the Queen’s relationship with her eldest child as being quite aloof and distant, particularly in his childhood.
Season two tends to focus on Charles’s contentious relationship with his father, Prince Phillip. Midway through the season, he is enrolled at the prestigious Gordonstoun school, but struggles to fit in.
In season three, a university-age Charles is sent by the Queen to Wales to learn Welsh ahead of his investiture as the Prince of Wales.
After becoming close with Welsh tutor Tedi Millward, Charles expresses support for Wales in his speech, which draws the ire of his mother. He requests a meeting with the Queen in the hope of some personal connection, but is told to close off his personal feelings.
Season four sees Charles spend most of his scenes with Diana and Camilla. However, the Queen tries to intervene in her son’s failing marriage.
Towards the end of the season, Queen Elizabeth loses her temper and castigates the prince for his role in the breakdown of his relationship with Diana.
While many commentators have suggested that the royal family were indeed displeased with Charles’s divorce, the scenes depicted in the series were entirely speculative.
The Crown is available to stream on Netflix now.