No stranger to controversy, the latest season of Netflix’s "The Crown" has media pundits chattering, dissecting scenes and characters and wondering where fiction meets truth.
Season 4 of the fictional drama, which premiered on Sunday, introduces Lady Diana Spencer and spotlights her marriage to Prince Charles and the subsequent fiery deterioration of their relationship.
The show also dives into Charles' relationship with his now wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
"There are real concerns coming from the palace that people watching Season 4 of 'The Crown' will take it for gospel," said ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie. "Charles and Camilla are a couple that spent decades trying to repair their image and just at a time where they’ve gained popularity in the U.K., that all faces major risk."
The latest episodes will also likely be tough viewing for Diana and Charles' sons, Princes William and Harry.
The show's reincarnation of the late Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997, is also now causing viewers to draw comparisons between how the royal family treated Diana and how it, decades later, treated Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, the wife of Prince Harry.
Earlier this year, Harry, 35, and Meghan, 39, sent shock waves when they stepped back as "senior members" of the royal family and relocated with their son, Archie, from the U.K. to California.
"This new season follows Diana’s journey as a new member of the royal family. Someone that was adored, but then quickly laughed at and mocked within the institution of the monarchy," said Scobie. "It brings parallels to Meghan’s very recent journey and highlights a very big problem within the institution."
Actress Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Elizabeth in "The Crown," noted of the show's foray into more current subjects, “The more it comes to modern day, the more we’re dealing with people’s emotions of people that are around and I find that quite difficult.”
How will the arrival of Diana Spencer and Margaret Thatcher change the world of The Crown? The show’s cast and crew give us a glimpse of the rivalries and relationships that lie ahead in Season Four. pic.twitter.com/Rehfr0S2XG— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix) November 12, 2020
The response from the royal family has been muted, with no official comment coming from any of the palaces. The feeling, however, is it hasn’t been well received with anonymous sources defending members of the royal family.
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Peter Morgan, showrunner of "The Crown," is being criticized by some for playing fast and loose with the truth, with possibly serious ramifications for the institution.
He has already been criticized for his dramatization of personal family moments of which he can have no real knowledge.
The royal historian and friend of Prince Charles, William Shawcross wrote in the Spectator last November, "The basic problem throughout is that, through invented conversations and often incidents, 'The Crown' purports to describe the private lives of real people. The closer it gets to the modern day, the more intrusive and sometimes cruel it becomes.”
Royal biographer Penny Junor sums up the concerns this new season brings with it, writing in the Daily Mail, “By whatever name, Camilla will one day be Queen, and if people believe that the story of the Prince of Wales's marriage as depicted in The Crown is factual, it could have terrible consequences for the couple. And for the future of the Monarchy.”
Netflix declined to comment on "The Crown."
"Friends” of Prince Charles have been anonymously quoted in the Daily Mail defending him.
One told the U.K. news outlet, "In this case, it's dragging up things that happened during very difficult times 25 or 30 years ago without a thought for anyone's feelings. That isn't right or fair, particularly when so many of the things being depicted don't represent the truth."
"The new series paints the Prince and Duchess in a very unflattering light but at least at the start of reality shows like The Only Way Is Essex they admit that some scenes have been invented for entertainment,' a palace source told the Mail on Sunday. "There is no sense of telling carefully nuanced stories. It's all very two-dimensional. This is trolling with a Hollywood budget. The public shouldn't be fooled into thinking this is an accurate portrayal of what really happened."
Alastair Bruce, ABC News royalty consultant, echoed that sentiment.
“All drama depends upon the tension between two people and therefore one becomes good and the other becomes bad when this simplicity is placed upon the complexity of a real situation, particularly when we know the individuals quite well," he told ABC News. "The impact upon reputation and the truth are generally the first victims.”
"Because the palace is not supporting this project and chose not to correct detail about personal lives the writers have had to be pretty free with their imagination. This is not a documentary, it is a best guess drama, injected edge of the seat entertainment. Historians beware," he added.