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The Crown season 5: what to expect and what the royal family really think

We deep dive into the royal family's thoughts on season 5

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8 November 2022
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The fifth season of Netflix's hit program The Crown is due to drop on November 9 - so the wait is nearly over!

MORE: The Crown season five: First look at Camilla as she romances Charles after split

The beautifully acted series is a fan favorite, captivating viewers - causing many to tune in and binge-watch every episode the moment each new season is released.

WATCH: The Crown season five teases Diana and Charles' divorce

With interest in the Royal Family at an all-time high since Her Majesty The Queen's death and the beginning of King Charles' reign, HELLO! takes a look at the reaction to the popular series and what lies ahead.

MORE: Senior royal insider shares warning about The Crown season 5

MORE: The Queen on screen: Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren, Claire Foy and more

Season five will pick up in the early nineties with the breakdown of King Charles' marriage to Princess Diana – one of the most well-documented eras of Windsor history.

diana the crown© Photo: Netflix

The Crown is expected to focus on the complicated period surrounding the divorce. A whole episode is set to be dedicated to the infamous BBC Panorama interview by Martin Bashir – who used fake documents to obtain the interview. Other areas covered will be Diana's relationship with Dodi Al Fayed, Charles' admission of infidelity to Jonathan Dimbleby, and Charles' deep love for the current Queen Consort once his marriage had "irretrievably" broken down as well as Diana's paranoia that she was being followed by the security services, and her tragic death.

The cast is a who's who of some of the most admired and highly regarded actors and actresses in the world. The Crown has received a litany of honours and is one of the most awarded television programs in history. Claire Foy and Olivia Colman both received Golden Globes and Emmy Awards for their roles as Queen Elizabeth.

Newcomers Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin received Golden Globes as Prince Charles and Princess Diana with Gillian Anderson winning plaudits for her mesmerizing role as Margaret Thatcher. John Lithgow, who played Winston Churchill and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip have also received nominations.

the queen beach walking© Photo: Netflix

The US Emmys also recognized the actors in the production. Lithgow, O'Connor, Menzies, and Gillian Anderson also won Emmys with Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, Matt Smith as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter also garnering nominations.

Seasons five and six will have an equally distinguished cast, with Netflix announcing Oscar-nominated Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce taking over as the Queen and Prince Philip while Dominic West will play Prince Charles in the 1990s. Elsewhere we have Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles, Natasha McElhone as Penelope Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major.

The series may cause uncomfortable, even upsetting viewing, just weeks after the Queen's death and only 18 months since Prince Philip died. While Peter Morgan told Deadline it was a "love letter to the Queen", reviewers haven't been so kind, criticizing recent seasons for blurring fact from fiction, being insensitive, with one friend of King Charles telling The Telegraph recently it was "exploitative".

imelda staunton© Photo: Netflix

Katie Nichol, the bestselling author of The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth's Legacy and the Future of the Crown says the dramatization of facts is confusing and can be detrimental to the Monarchy: "A lot of viewers really believe that the conversations and scenes you see actually took place and this is a problem given this series documents one of the most difficult periods of royal history, which is now going to be revisited in excruciating detail.

"These events are now 25 years old, a lifetime ago, and the King and the royal family understandably want to move on from the past, but dramas like The Crown make this very hard."

1992 was the year when three of the Queen's four children divorced and Windsor Castle caught fire. The Queen called it her "annus horribulis, not a year in which I will look back with undiluted pleasure."

The Crown will also likely rehash Sarah Ferguson's affair with her financial advisor and the toe-sucking incident which led to her divorce from Prince Andrew.

the crown© Photo: Netflix

The Sunday Times reported that upcoming season five of The Crown will incorporate a scene including the Queen in a fictional conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey in the Nineties questioning her role as a mother, telling him her children's divorces "begin to look like parental failure of the most awful kind."

There is no evidence this ever actually happened. Rather, the sequence appears to be included as an element of dramatic license. However, with so much factual material to draw from for seasons five and six of The Crown, the program is already drawing criticism before it has even been released.

Possibly most unsettling is that The Crown plans to imply King Charles lobbied then Prime Minister Sir John Major to force his mother's abdication in an upcoming episode revealed exclusively in the Mail on Sunday.

the crown netflix© Photo: Netflix

The problem? It never took place. The former Prime Minister told the newspaper it was false and called the inclusion in the series "nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction. A barrel load of nonsense pedalled for no other reason than to provide maximum – and entirely false – dramatic impact."

Ingrid Seward, the Editor in Chief of Majesty magazine and the author of numerous notable Royal biographies, who knew Princess Diana, said the series would cause consternation and hurt inside the royal family. "Of course, it's going to be upsetting. Imagine someone portraying your life all wrong. It would be terrible and there is nothing they can do about it."

WATCH: The Crown season five: release date for Netflix show finally revealed along with tense trailer

While creator Peter Morgan has acknowledged the program is dramatized, there has been an ongoing debate on whether there should be an onscreen disclaimer that many of the events are actually reimagined and at times fictionalized.

Ingrid thinks, "a bold disclaimer in front of every episode should be required. I fear that everyone views The Crown as fact." Certainly, the brilliant acting makes the program even more believable to viewers who may be unfamiliar with certain elements of history when artistic license has been utilized to dramatize events.

charles diana harry william© Photo: Netflix

So, do the royal family actually watch and will they this season? Several members of the family did indeed watch season one, with its lavish, beautifully constructed sets which give an aura of life behind Palace walls.

Matt Smith, who portrayed Prince Philip in series one opposite Claire Foy, told NBC's Today show "I met Harry once, at polo, which sounds a bit grand, but it wasn't that grand. And he walked up to me and went 'Granddad,'" adding, "I can't claim to know if he watches it now, but he watched a bit of it then."

Prince Harry told James Corden, "It's fictional, but it's loosely based on the truth. Of course, it's not strictly accurate but loosely, it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service and family above everything else, what can come from that."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix and have their own content, which will be released on the platform in the next year, about their life since stepping back as senior working members of the family.

charles camilla© Photo: Netflix

Harry also told fellow Brit James, "I'm way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family or my wife or myself. Because it's the difference between that [The Crown] is obviously fiction but this being reported as fact because you're supposedly the news. I have a real issue with that."

Prince Harry may not feel the same after the way the series intends to portray his grandfather Prince Philip or the breakdown of his mother's relationship with his father, all of which will be heavily covered in the final two seasons.

MORE: Everything the royal family have said about The Crown

Actor Matt Smith – who was first cast as Prince Philip – told the story of how a friend of his was at a dinner with the Duke and finally mustering up the courage at the end of the evening, couldn't resist asking if he watched The Crown. With the Duke of Edinburgh's well-known candour, he replied, "Don't be ridiculous."

Princess Eugenie was a fan of season one, telling HELLO!, "It is filmed beautifully. The music is wonderful, the story is beautiful. You feel very proud to watch it. I can't speak for everyone, but that's how I felt when I watched it."

diana charles© Photo: Netflix

According to Vanessa Kirby, who played Princess Margaret in seasons one and two, she has it on good authority that Her Majesty had also indeed tuned in.

Chatting to Harper's Bazaar, she previously said: "A friend of mine was at a party and didn't know anyone, so he sidled up to this group who were talking about The Crown. One girl said, 'Well, my granny watches it and really likes it'. It slowly dawned on him that the girl was [Princess ] Eugenie and her granny was the Queen."

Eugenie's mum Sarah told Us Weekly, "I thought it was filmed beautifully. The cinematography was excellent. I loved the way they put my wedding [to Prince Andrew] in as well."

MORE: The Crown: everything to know about season five - release, plot, cast and more 

With storylines now being revealed by Netflix for one of the most traumatic periods in Windsor history, it's unclear if they will continue to feel the same. The Crown released a statement in response to the criticism defending the program stating, "The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.

"Series 5 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 scrutinised and well documented by journalists, biographers, and historians."

imelda staunton the crown dominic© Photo: Netflix

Katie Nicholl told HELLO! the Queen had concerns as far back as the 1990's about the impact her family's private lives had when they are rehashed on television programs, in the press, and public domain, "Back in the early 90s the Queen told her cousin the late Lady Elizabeth Anson, 'I don't worry about myself, I worry about the future'."

"I included this in my new book because I consider it to be very telling. The Queen was very aware of the long-term damage the private lives of her family were having on the reputation of The Crown. This was a period when the Royals' lives were a real-life soap opera for the tabloids so for it to all be rehashed is going to be painful."

It's likely that any goodwill that producers of The Crown had built up with the royal family in the past for depicting the Queen's extraordinary reign, may turn to bitter disappointment in seasons five and six. The Sun reports the program dramatically alters the nature of HRH Prince Philip and Penelope Knatchbull's warm relationship with Philip pursuing an affair in intimate scenes telling Penny there were "problems" in his marriage and he and the Queen had "grown in separate directions."

the crown season five© Photo: Netflix

In actuality, the two shared a decades-long, supportive friendship over their love of carriage driving and Penny, also known as Lady Romsey and Lady Brabourne, was one of the only non-Royals outside of the family to attend Prince Philip's scaled-back funeral due to Covid.

The Queen and Prince Philip provided support for Penny when her five-year-old daughter died of kidney cancer in 1991. She was a steadfast friend of not only the Duke of Edinburgh but also the Queen, and shortly after Prince Philip's death was seen with Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Windsor Horse show.

Prince Philip grew tired and exasperated of rumors of infidelity, telling a journalist in the 1990s: "Have you ever stopped to think that, for the last 40 years, I have never moved anywhere without a policeman accompanying me? So how the hell could I get away with anything like that?"

The scenes, many have argued, are at best distressing and disrespectful, and at worst completely irresponsible without any evidence to imply that there was an affair at any point, but even more painful after Her Majesty The Queen's recent death and just 18 months after His Majesty The King's father Prince Philip passed away.

diana sofa the crown© Photo: Netflix

A spokesman for The Crown told the Telegraph: "the series was completed before the Queen's death and that no changes to it had been made."

Jemima Goldsmith - one of Princess Diana's closest friends who has never spoken about their friendship - told the Times in November 2021 that she had decided to help Mr Morgan and the producers of The Crown with series five, but then backed out when she grew concerned with the direction of the program.

"It was really important to me that the final years of my friend's life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past," she said, adding she withdrew when she "realised that a particular storyline would not necessarily be told as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped".

Katie Nichol also shared that rehashing upsetting events from 25 years ago will be distressing to King Charles. "I was told by a close aide that King Charles fears that Diana will always be a spectre over his reign.

elizabeth debicki the crown© Photo: Netflix

"The past is not what His Majesty wants the focus to be on as he starts his reign. He has worked so hard to move on, and now the past is going to be dredged up all over again."

Both Princes William and Harry have been vocal in their disappointment with the BBC's Panorama interview, the deception by Martin Bashir in obtaining the interview fraudulently, and the commercialization and profiteering by the BBC, and other outlets at the expense of their mother.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has asked that the Panorama interview where his mother uttered the words "there were three of us in this marriage" never be aired again. Prince Harry has also been firm and blames the interview, and the media, for their culpability in their mother's death saying, "Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed."

In an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Olivia Colman recounted her interaction with HRH Prince William at a dinner describing the Prince of Wales as "very charming and very lovely". 

MORE: The Crown: 5 shocking scenes featuring the Queen that really did happen - and 3 that are entirely fictional

MORE: The Crown star Claire Foy breaks silence over the Queen's death with beautiful tribute

The Oscar-winning actress who won a Golden Globe and Emmy for portraying The Queen in series three and four said "he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, 'Actually I know "what you're doing'." The actress continued "I was so excited and asked 'Have you watched it?' His answer was a firm, 'No'." 

With their parents' relationship and Princess Diana's death set to be the centerpiece of The Crown's seasons five and six, Prince William and Prince Harry will likely have to relive difficult and painful memories again.

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