Here's What All the British Royals Really Think About "The Crown"
Find out which royals like it, who's not a fan, and who's worried about next season's storyline.
The British royals are the stars of the world's longest-running, real-life soap opera. Between their headline-making marriages, scandalous affairs, and Shakespearean-like tragedies, it's no wonder their lives and loves have provided fodder for countless big and small screen productions offering a glimpse of what really goes on behind Palace walls. Among a raft of sudsy television movies and docudramas, Peter Morgan's The Crown on Netflix has garnered a loyal audience over the course of its three seasons. (The fourth season is slated to begin streaming on Netflix on November 15.) In fact, The Crown's fans reportedly include none other than Queen Elizabeth and a few other royal family members who can't resist watching their lives play out on the small screen. Others, however, are not fans. Read on to find out what Prince William, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and more of the royals think of The Crown. And for more onscreen royal portrayals, check out The Definitive Ranking of Every Actress Who's Played Princess Diana.
"Her Majesty has seen the series and enjoyed it," said one Palace insider. "She appreciates Mr. Morgan's attention to detail and respect for history, but she's also felt some of the events in the series have been a bit over the top."
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Multiple outlets have reported that the Queen has watched the Emmy-winning series with her son Prince Edward and her daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at Windsor Castle on their shared Netflix account. A source told the Daily Express, "It has been a long-standing arrangement that they drive to Windsor at the weekend to join the Queen for an informal supper while watching TV or a film." And for more on Sophie, check out Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Is Poised to Take the Spotlight Post-Megxit.
Not everyone in the royal family is enthusiastic about The Crown, however. Matt Smith, who played Prince Philip on the series' first and second seasons, told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that when a close friend attended a dinner with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip asked him, "What do you do? Are you involved in this Crown thing?" Smith's friend said no and then, at the end of the meal, asked Philip if he watches the show. The prince reportedly replied, "Don't be ridiculous." And for more on Philip, check out Inside the "Secret Pact" Between Princess Diana and Prince Philip.
Like his grandfather, Prince William doesn't seem to be a fan of The Crown, based on an interaction with Olivia Colman, who currently plays the Queen on the series. Colman recounted that her first meeting with the Duke of Cambridge was a tad awkward when William told her that he hadn't watched the series. "It didn't go very well," the actress said on The Graham Norton Show. "I met Prince William at a dinner, and he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, 'Actually, I know what you're doing.'" Yikes!
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles
Camilla's nephew, Ben Elliot, told Vanity Fair his aunt has seen the show, having watched with Prince Charles at Birkhall, their home in Scotland. Not surprisingly, Elliot also told the magazine Camilla "was not looking forward to the bits to come." Elliot was, of course, referring to the upcoming fourth season, when Princess Diana (played by Emma Corwin) comes into the royal orbit and marries Charles. In the early '80s, when Charles and Diana's marriage began to crumble, he and Camilla (who was married to Andrew Parker Bowles) resumed their affair.
In the recent ITV documentary Anne: The Princess at 70, Princess Anne, the Queen's only daughter, revealed she was once a regular viewer of The Crown, but doesn't watch anymore. She deemed the early episodes "quite interesting" and marveled at the lengths to which the actors have gone to transform themselves into members of the royal family. "Actually, I read an article the other day about The Crown," she said. "The actress [Erin Doherty] was talking about how long it took them to do their hair like I did. And I'm thinking, 'How could you possibly take that long?' I mean, it takes me 10 or 15 minutes."
Vanessa Kirby, who played Princess Margaret on the first and second seasons of show, told Vanity Fair, "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, when one 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 sister, Princess Beatrice, has also tuned in to The Crown. "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," she told Hello in 2017.
Eugenie and Beatrice's mum, Sarah Ferguson, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, is a big fan of The Crown. In 2019, a source told The Sun that Fergie would love to see Oscar winner Julianne Moore or Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson play her on the series.
The Queen's great-grandnephew Arthur Chatto told The Telegraph he's also seen The Crown. "Yes, I have watched it," he said. "I guess it's only an interpretation. So I just kind of remember what they're actually like and don't let the TV persona mar my judgment of any of them."
There's no word on whether Prince Harry or Meghan Markle have seen The Crown, and showrunner Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter they won't get the chance to relive the real-life drama of Megxit on the small screen. Morgan told the outlet there is not "enough distance from their stories" because he has "a 20-year rule" to allow for "perspective." No doubt, that's a great relief to the rest of the royal family!
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.