As the fourth season of The Crown continues to dominate Netflix viewership, Earl Charles Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana, would like everyone to keep in mind that they are watching a television program, not a historical documentary.
Appearing in a preview clip for Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh on November 22, Spencer shared his concerns. “The worry for me is that people see a program like that and they forget that it is fiction,” he said, per Us Weekly. “They assume, especially foreigners, I find Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson. Well, they haven’t.”
Fair enough. Brits, perhaps familiar enough with their own history to tell the difference between fact and fiction, might have a keener eye when it comes to moments where the show takes liberties. But for young Americans who don’t remember the Princess Diana years as vividly, there’s a danger that Emma Corrin’s portrayal, layered as it is, will be the definitive record of who Diana was, when in fact she was her own person.
“It is very hard, there is a lot of conjecture and a lot of invention, isn’t there? You can hang it on fact but the bits in between are not fact,” Spencer continued in the clip.
Peter Morgan, the creator of The Crown, admitted as much, telling the Times on November 20 that “We do our very, very best to get it right, but sometimes I have to conflate [incidents], per Us Weekly. Private moments when only the royal family was present, of course, have to be written through educated guesses; it’s not like the Queen is going to hand over a transcript.
In fact, the creators hoped to increase its accuracy factor by filming at Althorp, Diana’s home before she married Prince Charles, but Spencer told the series “obviously not.” As one of the keepers of the real Princess Diana’s memory, Spencer said, “I feel it is my duty to stand up for her when I can.”
“She left me, for instance, as guardian of her sons, so I feel there was a trust passed on. And we grew up together,” he continued. “If you grow up with somebody they are still that person—It doesn’t matter what happens to them later.”