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Speaking to British tabloid The Mail on Sunday, the politician joined a growing chorus — emanating especially loudly from various elements of the British press — calling on the show’s producers to add a “health warning” making it clear that the show is based on fiction.
“I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact,” he said, adding that while it was a “beautifully produced work of fiction,” it “should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.”
Dowden also claimed he would be writing to Netflix this week to express his concerns. The company declined to comment, although a spokesperson pointed out that it had already been widely reported that The Crown was a drama based on real-life events.
While there have been several dissenting voices since The Crown first launched in 2016 for its dramatic interpretations of the inner workings and relationships of the British royal family, the latest season has sparked the most headlines so far, mostly for its depiction of the breakdown of the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Speaking to the BBC, former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter criticized the series for “stretching dramatic license to the extreme,” accusing it of being a “hatchet job on Prince Charles and a bit of a hatchet job on Diana.”
Arbiter added that a scene in which the Prince of Wales’ private secretary asked whether Diana was mentally equipped enough to undertake a solo tour of New York “never happened” and said that the show made “Charles and Camilla out to be the villains.”
Dowden’s comments were met with widespread derision online, with many on social media unsure why the government needed the public to be told that a fictional TV show wasn’t real.
“The Culture Secretary’s ‘intervention’ over The Crown is the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages,” said one Twitter user. “I look forward to his letter to Hilary Mantel [author of Wolf Hall, a fictional depiction of the court of King Henry VIII].”
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