Dame Judi Dench pens open letter dubbing 'The Crown' as an 'inaccurate and hurtful account of history'

Dame Judi Dench has spoken out against the hit Netflix show, calling for a 'disclaimer' at the beginning of each episode

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall enjoys an ice cream with Dame Judi Dench as she arrives at Queen Victoria's private beach, next to the monarch's holiday home, during her visit to the Isle of Wight on July 24, 2018 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom.
(Image credit: Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Dame Judi Dench has dubbed The Crown 'cruelly unjust' in an open letter to The Times, slamming the hit Netflix series.

The Crown season 5 is yet to air and backlash is already mounting against it. Merely days after it was reported that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix show has been pushed back, owing to controversy surrounding the show, national treasure Dame Judi has voiced her disdain.

The veteran actor showed she means business in the missive, sent to The Times (opens in new tab). From the outset, Dame Judi backs up the recent criticism of the hit show, from former Prime Minister, Sir John Major. “Sir John Major is not alone in his concerns that the latest series of The Crown will present an inaccurate and hurtful account of history,” said Dame Judi. “Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series - that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence - this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.”

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greets Dame Judi Dench during a reception at St James's Palace for British Oscar winners on May 4, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.

(Image credit: Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Oscar winner is a long-time supporter of the Royal Family and has previously played British monarchs Elizabeth I in Shakespeare and Love and Queen Victoria on two occasions - in Mrs. Brown and Victoria and Abdul. As such, she asserts with great authority on the matter, that “no one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”

In response to the mounting criticism, a spokesperson for The Crown said, “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events. Series five is a fictional dramatization, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the Royal Family - one that has already been scrutinized and well-documented by journalists, biographers, and historians.”

This statement has not sated the appetites of those who see it as a potentially dangerous piece of work - including Dame Judi, who references it in her letter.

Queen Elizabeth II invests Dame Judi Dench with the Insignia of a Companion of Honour at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

“Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalized drama,’ the program makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode," she continues.

The actor closes her letter with a rousing call to action. “The time has come for Netflix to reconsider - 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."

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.