The ‘cruelly unjust’ Crown season 5 scene that infuriated Judi Dench

Actor was not happy with two particular moments in new series

Jacob Stolworthy
Thursday 10 November 2022 12:09 GMT
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Ahead ofThe Crown season five, Dame Judi Dench expressed her anger with the Netflix series.

The Oscar-winning actor shared her views on the show via an open letter, in which she called upon the streaming service to add a disclaimer to the opening of each episode.

Dench hoped this disclaimer would alert viewers to the fact that the series is a “fictionalised drama”.

As of writing, Netflix decided against adding anything to the start of episodes in the new season, which was released on Wednesday (9 November).

But, which scenes led Dench to brand the series “crude sensationalism”?

One arrived in the premiere episode of season five, titled “Queen Victoria Syndrome”, and it saw Prince Charles (Dominic West) attempting to convince Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) in the early 1990s that his mother, Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton) was no longer fit for the throne.

The second scene that angered Dench featured in episode four, titled “Annus Horribilis”. It depicts an argument between Charles and the Queen, with Charles urging his mother to let him divorce Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki).

“It's funny isn't it,” he says. “For years I've called for a more modern monarchy that reflects the world outside. Look at the rates of family breakdown out there, and then look at us.”

He then lists the divorces in their family, stating: “And you talk about moral examples. If we were an ordinary family and social services came to visit, they'd throw us into care and you into jail.”

Imelda Staunton as the Queen in ‘The Crown’ season five (Netflix)

Dench called these scenes “wounding suggestions”, writing in a letter to The Times: “This is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent. No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged.”

However, people think the actor had an ulterior motive for criticising the series.

Fans of The Crown were overjoyed to see the return of an “irreplaceable” original star in the brand new season, while others are praising an “emotional” scene involving Princess Diana, and her young sons, Princes William and Harry.

The Crown season five is available to stream on Netflix now. Find The Independent’s review here.

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