How did the crown influence our perception of King Charles III?

The crown is arguably the most famous representation of the British royal family.

Chronicling some of the most defining events in the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, it has been praised for delving into the private lives of those still trying to keep the country at bay – despite being known to take a artistic license here and there.

Since the death of the queen last week, the drama has returned one of the most watched shows on the streaming platform.

But, the show’s sometimes loose relationship to truth, and its tendency to fill in the gaps with fiction, would have put the palace on edge — particularly when it comes to the portrayal of the Queen’s heir apparent on the show.

Now that King Charles III is actually on the throne, how has the series already affected his reputation?

How popular is The Crown?

Views for the first season (covering the first decade of the Queen’s reign) of The Crown between Friday September 9 and Sunday September 11 are up more than 800% in the UK alone compared to the week previous, according to The Guardian.

It also quadrupled during the same period in the United States, and in France, the audience was multiplied by three.

This first series only shows Charles as a toddler. But, with such a resurgence in interest, it’s pretty reasonable to think that people will start watching the final seasons set in the 70s and 80s, when the Queen’s eldest son (now King Charles III) will begin to have its own storylines.

The fifth series is also set to air in November, depicting the early to mid-90s – a particularly tumultuous time for Charles as his marriage to Princess Diana completely fell apart.

Season six – production of which was halted following the Queen’s death – is also set to release in 2023.

Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales, during their official visit to Hungary on May 10, 1990.

Has the series ever affected Charles’ reputation?

Yes, but only marginally. YouGov polls from November 2020 – when season four was released – show that Charles’ popularity has plummeted.

Around 40% of those polled at the time said they wanted Prince William to succeed the Queen rather than Charles.

Then, for the next year or so, there was a slightly higher percentage of people (between 33% and 35%) who thought Charles would not make a good king compared to those who thought he would make a good king. (32% to 34%). %).

It’s not surprising. Season four portrayed the then-Prince of Wales as indifferent and unsympathetic towards his new bride, Princess Diana, resurrecting a period when Charles’ popularity plummeted completely.

Before that, season three had a more empathetic portrayal of Charles as someone who struggled with the restrictions of royal life – and just wanted to be with his then-girlfriend, Camilla Shand. When the series was released in November 2019, it was the only recent occasion where more respondents had voted in favor of Charles succeeding his mother than William.

But, it’s worth remembering that the show only created a small dent in those numbers. Charles is generally seen as significantly less popular than other members of the royal family, especially the Queen, since it became clear that her relationship with Diana was in trouble in the 90s.

Josh O'Connor as Prince of Wales and Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand, appearing in the third season of The Crown.
Josh O’Connor as Prince of Wales and Emerald Fennell as Camilla Shand, appearing in the third season of The Crown.

How accurate was The Crown’s portrayal of Charles?

As with all programs featuring real people, truth has been mixed with fiction. Charles and Diana had a tumultuous relationship, with the two having extramarital affairs throughout their marriage.

The Princess of Wales also struggled to fit in with the Royal Family, despite her aristocratic background, and she had little in common with Charles from the start.

But, The Crown has been criticized for its portrayal of Charles and Diana from the start – in their first scene together, she was portrayed as a teenager dressed as a ‘crazy tree’ for A Midsummer Night’s Dream as he dated his sister Elder.

In reality, she was undressed when they first met, although she was still only 16 and Charles had a brief romance with his sister Sarah.

The crown

Historian Hugo Vickers has also listed eight lies of the last season in The temperature back in 2020.

These included Princess Margaret ridiculing Diana for not being able to curtsy, Charles supposedly calling Camilla Parker Bowles every day in the early years of his marriage – they didn’t actually resume their relationship until 1986 – and Diana supposedly forcing everyone to change their plans while on tour in Australia.

Prince Philip also did not demand that Charles marry Diana, according to Vickers, but instead called on his son to make a decision because Diana was being hounded by the press at the time.

Former royal chef Darren McGrady also told Us Weekly that the series “really went for artistic license”. He criticized the portrayal of Charles and Diana’s rocky relationship, saying he saw some magical moments between them.

Where the series depicts the pair as arguing intensely during their royal tour of Australia in 1983, and again at Balmoral Castle, he claimed the pair were in good shape.

He said: “When I see The Crown and I see this and think ‘You don’t know the whole truth’.”

Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown, season 4
Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown, season 4

In the fourth season, Princess Margaret – Charles’ aunt – also intervenes and suggests Charles and Diana not to marry because they are too incompatible.

Of course, there’s a chance of that happening, but there is no evidence. In fact, the actor who played Margaret, Helena Bonham-Carter, actually confirmed that it was her idea to bring in her character at the time.

In contrast, Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, claimed the series was an accurate depiction of Diana’s state of mind.

He said to the Sun: “Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles as a rather indifferent and cold person. And I’m afraid that’s what I saw behind closed doors.

Burrell added, “He was married to probably the most beautiful woman in the world. But he didn’t take care of her, and that’s what The Crown shows.

As screenwriter of The Crown Peter Morgan told The Times: “Sometimes you have to give up on accuracy, but you should never give up on truth.”

But, everyone knows it’s mostly fiction…right?

Well, while everyone knows The Crown isn’t entirely true, rehashing past events certainly didn’t help. A whole new generation is now aware of the tensions between Charles and Diana, as former royal correspondent Jennie Bond has told the BBC Newscast podcast.

“I think the difficulty is knowing which is the truth and which is not,” she said. “Particularly for the younger generation watching, who didn’t live through that era, who didn’t know these people, they’re going to believe what they see. They’re going to see it as a documentary.

Likewise, Simon Jenkins wrote in The Guardian in 2020: “Fake Crown history is as corrosive as fake news.”

He suggested that the series reframed real events “to suit a plot that could have been scripted by Diana’s biggest supporters”.

Then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden seemed to share these concerns about the accuracy of the series in 2020, describing him the Daily Mail as “a beautifully produced work of fiction”.

King Charles III is keen to make an impression as the new monarch
King Charles III is keen to make an impression as the new monarch

This then sparked conversations about whether the show should open with a disclaimer that it wasn’t actually based on the truth.

The actor who plays Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4, Josh O’Connor, previously said BBC breakfast that remembering the show was fiction was essential for viewers.

He said: ‘At the end of the day what Peter does so brilliantly is he kind of takes the historical facts, you know, the moments in history that you remember or have seen images, then paints between those moments of punctuation. .”

He continued: “There is a fascination with the royal family and sometimes people will want to believe that is what happened.

“I think it’s always worth checking out and remembering that this – we’re actors, and we’re not real, and this isn’t a real story.”

Prince Harry – the second son of Charles and Diana – even said The Late Late Show by James Corden that he preferred the show’s portrayal events to the media’s depiction of what happened.

“They don’t pretend to be news. It’s fictitious, said Harry. “But it’s loosely based on the truth.

“Of course it’s not strictly accurate, of course not, but basically it gives you a rough idea of ​​what this lifestyle, the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, which may ensue.

“I’m much more comfortable with The Crown than seeing the stories written about my family, my wife or myself. Because [The Crown] is obviously fiction, take it as you will. But this is reported as fact because you are supposedly news. I have a real problem with that.”

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