In an age when many know nothing of the past – and the day before yesterday is always the most unknown era of all – a TV series such as Netflix’s The Crown is in danger of becoming the official version of events.
And that is why Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is right when he calls for Netflix to make it clear that its Royal drama is just that, brilliantly produced fiction but about real people.
If it did not use the Monarchy in this way, it would not have one tenth of the huge lucrative audience it achieves. It would be just another soap opera.
As the historian Hugo Vickers points out in our pages today, much of that fiction is severely, dangerously wrong.
In an age when many know nothing of the past – and the day before yesterday is always the most unknown era of all – a TV series such as Netflix’s The Crown is in danger of becoming the official version of events
Thanks to our unique freedom, and the Monarchy’s own huge reluctance to make a fuss about being misrepresented, the programme’s makers have simply got away with multiple inventions and damaging untruths, about the Queen herself, about her close family and about politicians – but especially about Prince Philip, now nearing his 100th birthday after decades of service to his country.
The invented scene in which he appears to threaten Princess Diana is especially scurrilous and nasty, and will encourage the worst sort of dangerous rumour. Netflix should be free to do as it wishes.
That is one of the liberties our constitutional Monarchy is there to preserve. But it should no longer be free to pretend that fiction is fact, let alone that lies are truth.
Viewers of this series should never be in any doubt that what they are seeing is dramatic invention by Left-wing persons who do not in fact much like the institution or the family they pretend to portray.