Season 4 of The Crown sparks flurry of reactions in British press and social media

Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor play Princess Diana and Prince Charles in The Crown.
Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor play Princess Diana and Prince Charles in The Crown.PHOTO: NETFLIX

LONDON - Asking British people their views on The Crown (2016 to now) is like asking what they think of the real-life royal family; like them or loathe them, everyone has an opinion.

The release of the fourth season of Netflix's opulent drama about the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II has sparked an especially large flurry of reactions in the British press and social media, since the season spans not just a tumultuous period for the royal family but also a divisive time in British politics.

It also sees the introduction of two key figures in 20th century British life: Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson) and Diana, Princess of Wales (Emma Corrin).

Below is a roundup of how Britons have been reacting to the new season.

Emma Corrin wows

Corrin's portrayal of Diana has impressed British critics, and those who knew the princess have also voiced their praise.

Journalist Andrew Morton, who worked with Diana on an explosive 1992 biography, told Vanity Fair: "I think Emma Corrin's performance is far and away the most accomplished and realistic portrayal of Diana I have seen."

Corrin's performance also reflected what made Diana so popular with the public, according to Rachel Cooke in the New Statesman. "The spooky secret of her performance lies not in the upward gaze of her eyes, but rather, in the way she radiates Diana's teenage energy - a sometimes disabling vitality that the princess, in reality, never fully managed to lose."

Questions of accuracy

While The Crown explores real events and has been praised for its attention to detail, it is at its heart a dramatisation featuring fictional conversations.

As a result, many newspapers have fact-checked the show.

In a long review of the series for The Times of London, historian Hugo Vickers lamented the depiction of the Queen as being "glum and schoolmistressly".

He also argued that, contrary to what viewers saw in this season's third episode, Diana was actually well versed in the protocols of curtsying.

The Daily Mail published its own fact check.

"Princess Diana was dressed as a 'mad tree' for A Midsummer Night's Dream when she first met Prince Charles: FALSE," the paper stated, and "Royal Family are bloodthirsty and obsessed with hunting: PARTLY TRUE."

Prince Charles and Princess Diana looking in different directions during a Korean War commemorative service in November 1992.
A photo from Nov 1992 shows Prince Charles and Princess Diana looking in different directions during a Korean War commemorative service. PHOTO: AFP

In a discussion on The Crown: The Official Podcast, the show's creator Peter Morgan said that a plot point surrounding a critical letter between Lord Mountbatten and Prince Charles, advising the prince to marry Diana and not Camilla Parker Bowles, may not have existed.

By Tuesday, Morgan's comments were front-page news. "Crown writer defends making up scenes," said a Times of London headline above reports from unnamed sources that Prince Charles was upset by his depiction and had refused to watch the show.

Thatcher still splits opinion

While the fifth episode does explore the high levels of unemployment and economic strife in the early years of Thatcher's government, critics of the Iron Lady have still expressed fears that The Crown will humanise her and her Conservative politics.

Clips of Thatcher advocating for Section 28, a policy banning the promotion or acceptance of homosexuality in schools, have been widely circulated on Twitter.

"While you're all stanning 'sexy Maggie', here's a reminder of how toxic she was," one user wrote on Twitter.

Equally, some fans of Thatcher have taken issue with Anderson's portrayal of her. "The caricature of Thatcher is a travesty," one viewer told The Telegraph.

Letters of complaint

British viewers have sent in some rather pointed letters to newspapers about The Crown.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, one viewer was aghast at the portrayal of Prince Charles' fishing technique.

"To imagine that any self- respecting fisherman would allow his line to touch down so catastrophically is bad enough, but to then suggest that such a cast could possibly result in the landing of a fine salmon is tantamount to gross - almost criminal - negligence."

The Queen's salute has also been criticised.

A letter by an army veteran to The Times of London read: "To my recollection, Her Majesty's salute has always been exemplary, with the forearm and hand being ramrod straight.

"This may not perhaps be noticed by many viewers, but to us ex-military types with a passion for standards, it is particularly galling."