In response to criticism of its upcoming fifth series, Netflix has defended The Crown as a "fictional dramatisation."
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major is said to have described scenes depicting the King, then the Prince of Wales, conspiring to depose the Queen as "malicious rubbish."
According to the Mail, friends of King Charles III have also condemned his upcoming portrayal as a treacherous schemer as “false, unfair and deeply wounding”, and have asked fans to boycott the hit Netflix show.
The fourth season of the opulent drama similarly drew condemnation for not doing enough to make viewers aware that they were watching a fictionalised version of true events. Then-culture secretary Oliver Dowden requested that Netflix include a disclaimer with each episode, a request which the company denied.
But what happens in the upcoming fifth season, and what exactly has Sir John taken umbrage with?
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What happens in Season 5 of The Crown?
The new series, which premieres on 9 November, is expected to include scenes in which the future King interrupts a holiday with Diana in 1991 to arrange a secret meeting with Sir John at Highgrove.
It will reportedly include fictional discussions in which Charles attempts to persuade Major to force his mother’s abdication from the Throne.
According to the Mail, the new season suggests Charles believed his mother, who was 65 at the time, was repeating Queen Victoria’s error by not allowing her younger heir to take over.
In the first episode of the series, the paper says, Charles is encouraged by a poll that shows 47% of the public support the Queen’s abdication. That plot is based on a real poll from 1990, but with one major difference: in the actual poll, 47% stated the Queen should relinquish the Throne "at some stage" in the future.
It was previously announced that the fifth season of the show will also delve into Princess Diana’s now-infamous Panorama interview with journalist Martin Bashir.
The Crown was originally planned to conclude with its fifth season, but the show’s creator and writer, Peter Morgan, later announced that it will be extended to include a sixth series.
Following the passing of the Queen, filming on the latest season of The Crown was paused as a token of respect. Filming was also halted, on the day of her funeral.
What has Sir John Major said?
Major’s latest remarks came after fears were raised that the storyline in the popular show in which King Charles interrupts a holiday to arrange a secret meeting to oust the Queen could harm the monarch’s reputation.
A spokesperson for Sir John told the Mail: “Sir John has not cooperated 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.”
According to the paper, a “well placed” source said: “All the one-to-one conversations you see on screen are utter fiction and some scenes have been entirely created for dramatic and commercial purposes with little regard for the truth.”
A spokesperson for Sir John, played in the series by Trainspotting’s Jonny Lee Miller, previously told The Times that if such sequences are broadcast, “they should be seen as nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction”.
Although there is no disclaimer on individual episodes of The Crown, when viewers go to watch an episode, the show is labelled as a fictional drama based on historical events with a "log line” on Netflix.
How has Netflix responded?
The US streaming service responded to the latest criticism on Sunday (16 October), saying the show “has always been presented as a drama based on historical events”.
“Series five is a fictional dramatisation,” a spokesperson said, “imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the royal family.”
They added that the time frame examined in The Crown’s fifth season is “one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”
When can I watch Season 5 of The Crown?
Season 5 of The Crown will debut on Netflix on Wednesday 9 November 2022. As ever, all episodes will be available at once as part of a box set.