(p. A12) Through four vivid seasons of “The Crown,” Mr. Morgan has never denied taking artistic license with the saga of the royals, playing out their private joys and sorrows against the pageant of 20th-century British history.
Yet “The Crown” is now colliding with the people who wrote the first draft of that history.
That has spun up a tempest in the British news media, even among those who ordinarily profess not to care much about the monarchy. Newspapers and television programs have been full of starchy commentary about how “The Crown” distorts history in its account of the turbulent decade in which Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and Mrs. Thatcher wrought a free-market revolution in British society.
The objections range from the personal (the queen’s brittle, coldhearted treatment of her emotionally fragile daughter-in-law, which the critics claim is unfair) to the political (the show’s portrait of Thatcher-era Britain as a right-wing dystopia, in the grip of a zealous leader who dares to lecture her sovereign during their weekly audiences). Historians say that is utterly inconceivable.
“There has been such a reaction because Peter Morgan is now writing about events many of us lived through and some of us were at the center of,” said Mr. Neil, who edited The Sunday Times from 1983 to 1994.
Mr. Neil, who went on to be a broadcaster and publisher, is no reflexive defender of the royal family. Suspicious of Britain’s class system, he said he had sympathies for the republican movement in the 1980s. But he grew to admire how the queen modernized the monarchy after the upheaval of those years, and has been critical of renegade royals, like Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan.
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(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 27, 2020, and has the title “‘The Crown’ Stokes an Uproar Over Fact vs. Entertainment.”)