A Netflix notice reminds viewers, and Judi Dench, that ‘The Crown’ is fictional

Olivia Colman dressed as Queen Elizabeth II in a bejeweled crown holding yellow flowers
Olivia Colman portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in Season 4 of Netflix’s “The Crown.”
(Ollie Upton / Netflix)

Netflix, amid recent criticism from actor Judi Dench and former U.K. Prime Minister John Major, has once again reminded viewers “The Crown” is just an interpretation of British history.

“Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign,” says the description on the YouTube page of the Season 5 trailer, which dropped Thursday.

The explanation has previously appeared on the series’ press materials and its page on the Netflix website, but Thursday’s clip is the series’ first to feature the “fictional dramatisation” line on the streamer’s official YouTube page.


Netflix’s promotion of “The Crown” Season 5 has been under a microscope since Dench wrote an open letter published Thursday in the British newspaper the Times, where she dubbed the Emmy-winning series “cruelly unjust” for its depiction of the royal family and its tribulations.

“The closer the drama comes to our present times, the more freely art seems willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism,” the “Belfast” star wrote.

Oscar-winning actor Judi Dench wrote a heated letter about Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ in the British newspaper the Times. She said the streamer should reconsider adding a disclaimer.

Oct. 20, 2022

Dench echoed the sentiments shared earlier this week by Major, who dismissed “The Crown” as a “barrel-load of nonsense.” In response, Netflix asserted that the series “has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.”

“Series five is a fictional dramatisation, 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,” a spokesperson for the streamer said, according to the Guardian.

Before the recent backlash, Netflix has been firm on its stance against displaying a disclaimer on the show itself.

Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ should come with a disclaimer for its depictions, which include Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, an official says.

Nov. 29, 2020

In November 2020, Britain’s then-secretary for culture, Oliver Dowden, praised “The Crown” as a “beautifully produced work of fiction” but urged the addition of a disclaimer, saying that “Netflix should be very clear at the beginning [the series] is just that.” The streamer responded, “We have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events,” and said it had no plans to add a notice.


In her letter, Dench — who was honored with damehood by the royal family in 1988 — referenced the September death of Queen Elizabeth II in her plea for a disclaimer.

“For the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve its reputation in the eyes of its British subscribers,” she wrote.

Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign was so long that most of Britain’s 68 million people have known no other sovereign.

Sept. 8, 2022

The streamer and series creator Peter Morgan previously honored the royal family. In light of the queen’s death, Netflix briefly paused production on Season 6 of “The Crown” as a mark of respect for the late monarch.

“‘The Crown’ is a love letter to [Queen Elizabeth II] and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect,” Morgan told Deadline.

Season 5 of “The Crown” debuts Nov. 9 and stars Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West and Olivia Williams.