The Crown: Lord Heseltine praises John Major and Tony Blair for speaking out against latest series of show

Lord Heseltine has praised Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair for publicly criticising the latest series of The Crown.

The former Conservative deputy prime minister described the ex-PMs' interventions as "important" ahead of the show's release on Netflix next week.

Speaking to Sky News, Lord Heseltine said: "Very good, I'm glad they have spoken out. They have public credibility and it's important that those who do understand what goes on and what has gone on actually speak up because the Royal Family are in a very difficult position to defend themselves."

Responding to suggestions that Sir John or Sir Tony could have revealed what was said in their private conversations with the Royal Family, he said: "I think that's rubbish, of course John and Tony didn't reveal their conversations because everyone knows the prime minister has conversations which are treasured and totally private.

"That's one of the privileges of the position they occupy."

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Ahead of the release of season five, the two former PMs both hit out at their depiction while Dame Judi Dench called for a disclaimer to be added to each episode, saying it has begun to verge on "crude sensationalism".

Sir John recently wrote a letter to The Telegraph responding to the upcoming series which is expected to show the-then Prince Charles, played by Dominic West, cutting short a holiday with Princess Diana to host a secret meeting with Sir John at Highgrove in 1991, at which they discuss potentially ousting the Queen.

The ex-Tory prime minister wrote that it "will be profoundly hurtful to a family who are still grieving for the very person on whose life the entire drama was founded".

'Complete and utter rubbish'

Prince Charles is reportedly shown in the programme trying to recruit Sir Tony as an ally to protect his future and pave the way for him to marry Camilla, shortly after the 1997 general election which the-then Labour leader famously won in a landslide.

Sir Tony's spokesman told the Telegraph: "It should come as no surprise that this is complete and utter rubbish."

Last month, veteran actress Dame Judi called for a disclaimer to be added to each episode of The Crown as she felt there was a risk that "a significant number of viewers" will take its events as historical truth.

Netflix added a disclaimer to the description of the latest trailer but stopped short of adding the message to the trailer itself.

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However, Khlid Abdalla, the actor playing Princess Diana's lover Dodi Fayed, defended the show telling Sky News: "Everyone knows the love with which this programme has towards the Royal Family, towards the Queen, towards that legacy.

"And I believe that in order to tell those stories as beautifully as possible and as fully as possible you have to have the fullness of everything, and that's what I've seen we're trying to do."

The actress playing Princess Diana in the series, Elizabeth Debicki, has also said she feels like audiences know The Crown is "clearly fictional" as she responded to criticism of how certain storylines are depicted.

Asked whether she felt defensive to the criticism, she said: "I don't really. I understand what the show is and what it's trying to do."

The 32-year-old Australian told The Guardian: "I mean, it is clearly fictional. I feel like audiences know that, because there are actors, playing parts."

"I never watched The Crown and thought, 'this is a documentary' or 'this is obviously true'."