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The Crown's most controversial moments

Netflix's hit drama has seen its fair share of controversy.

The Crown S5 (Netflix)
Will The Crown viewers see Diana return? (Netflix)

The Crown's sixth and final season is looming, and one of the biggest reveals fans of the Netflix series will be looking out for is whether it does in fact include an appearance from the ghost of Princess Diana.

But this isn't the first time that The Crown has hit headlines for controversial plot choices - we look back at some of the most pearl-clutching scenes from the last five seasons.


Charles and Diana's relationship

Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki star as Charles and Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)
Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki star as Charles and Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)

The now-King's first marriage to Diana was shown hitting the rocks in seasons four and five. While their relationship difficulties were undeniable, some royalists took issue with how they were represented.

Thorny moments included Diana accusing Charles of being jealous of her, Charles calling Camilla from their Australia tour to label Diana "pathetic" and bitter rows between the pair.

Of course, any exploration of Charles and Diana's marriage also includes the now Queen Consort Camilla, and one especially uncomfortable scene featured a phone call where Charles informed Camilla that he wanted to be her tampon.

Dominic West, who played Charles, reflected on the headlines at the time - telling Entertainment Weekly: "I remember thinking it was something so sordid and deeply, deeply embarrassing [at the time]...

"Looking back on it, and having to play it, what you're conscious of is that the blame was not with these two people, two lovers, who were having a private conversation.

"What's really [clear now] is how invasive and disgusting was the press's attention to it, that they printed it out verbatim and you could call a number and listen to the actual tape. I think it made me extremely sympathetic towards the two of them and what they'd gone through."


Martin Bashir's Diana interview

Diana on Panorama
Prince William called for his mother's Panorama interview never to air again. (BBC)

One of the most famous royal TV moments ever was a post-split Diana telling Martin Bashir: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage."

But an inquiry into the tactics used by Bashir to secure the interview has now shown some shady dealings, including faking bank statements to put pressure on her brother Lord Spencer.

Prince William commented on the findings of Lord Dyson's report to say that he hoped the interview would never be broadcast again, so including it even as a dramatisation so shortly afterwards was seen as being in poor taste by some.

William had said: "It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others."

The Crown also included controversial scenes of a young Prince William watching the interview on TV from his room at Eton.


The Queen's secret cousins

Picture shows: Prince Philip (TOBIAS MENZIES) and Queen Elizabth II (OLIVIA COLMAN)
Tobias Menzies and Olivia Colman starred in season four of The Crown. (Netflix)

Season four of the Netflix drama shone a light on an uncomfortable family secret involving the Queen's cousins.

Apparently, she and many other members of the royal family had been told that her cousins, sisters Katherine and Nerissa, had died in 1940, with their deaths even being listed in an edition of Burke's Peerage.

But the sisters, who had been born with severe learning difficulties, had actually been sent to live in a hospital in Surrey in 1941.

Nerissa had died in 1986 aged 66, while Katherine lived until the age of 87, dying in 2014.


Prince Philip affair rumours

Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce as the Queen and Prince Philip. (Netflix)
Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce as the Queen and Prince Philip. (Netflix)

Although most of the romance scandal has been focussed on Charles, his late father Prince Philip has not escaped scrutiny either.

Season five drew criticism for scenes that showed Philip telling the Queen he felt that they had grown apart over differing interests, and that he felt lonely.

In other scenes, the Queen was shown crying over an ambiguous argument about Philip's close connection with family friend Penny Knatchbull, 30 years younger than him, and an affair was heavily hinted at.

Critics of The Crown felt it was inappropriate to include the scenes so soon after the Queen's death.


Charles and John Major talk Queen's abdication

Jonny Lee Miller played John Major. (Netflix)
Jonny Lee Miller played John Major. (Netflix)

King Charles' coronation only took place earlier this year after the Queen's death in 2022 aged 96, but if The Crown's version of events is to be believed, he was said to have been hoping for a new title decades earlier.

One episode showed Charles meeting with then-Prime Minister John Major when his mother was 65 to talk about encouraging a possible abdication and suggesting that she had hung onto the monarchy for too long.

Major released a statement via reps that denied the conversation had ever happened, saying: "Sir John has not co-operated in any way with The Crown.

"Nor has he ever been approached by them to fact-check any script material in this or any other series.

"There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II."


Netflix adds a disclaimer

Judi Dench attends the
Judi Dench called for a distinction between fact and fiction. (WireImage)

As the disagreement between fans of The Crown and those who felt it was disrespectful to the royals grew louder, Netflix decided to clarify complaints about historical accuracy.

In a trailer for season five, a disclaimer was added that read: "Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign."

Calls for Netflix to make it clear that the show was not a historical record had been led by Dame Judi Dench, who wrote an open letter to The Times about it.

She wrote: "While many will recognise The Crown for the brilliant but fictionalised account of events that it is, I fear that a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true.

"This is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent. No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged."


Read more: The Crown

The Crown will stream season six's first half on Netflix from 16 November and its second half from 14 December.