Prince Charles’s former boarding school in Scotland has waded into the growing controversy over The Crown by demanding the drama carry a disclaimer.
She said The Crown had proved to be ‘compelling’ viewing, but said the school found it important to separate ‘fact from fiction’.
Prince Charles, pictured in his final years at Gordonstoun School where his father Prince Philip had attended
Prince Philip, pictured left with his son Prince Charles and Captain Iain Tennant, chairman of the Gordonstoun Board of Governors at the heir to the throne’s first day at school
Gordonstoun Principal Lisa Kerr, pictured, said the popular Netflix show had given a ‘misleading impression’ of the Royal family ’s time there
The school, near Elgin, Morayshire, has joined a powerful coalition of politicians and royal experts demanding that Netflix broadcast the disclaimer before each episode.
They say there are numerous key scenes which have been completely fabricated or are distortions of the truth.
Yesterday, the school finally broke its silence to urge Netflix to make its millions of subscribers aware that The Crown storylines often twist the truth and present fiction as fact.
Principal Lisa Kerr said: ‘As a school with its own thriving drama department we are very supportive of the Creative Arts, however we also teach our students the importance of separating fact from fiction. That is why we have repeatedly reassured them that the Gordonstoun represented in The Crown is a drama, not a documentary.
‘Whilst we never comment on the experiences of individual students, by way of example we can clarify that The Prince of Wales was accommodated in Windmill Lodge, which was opened just three years before he arrived and had modern facilities at the time of his stay. Nor did Prince Philip build our gateposts.
‘These storylines appear to be imagined for dramatic effect which makes compelling, but not factual, viewing.
‘Many of our alumni, particularly contemporaries of HRH The Prince of Wales, have told us of their shock at the misleading impression of Gordonstoun which is given by The Crown.’
The streaming giant is facing mounting criticism for fabricating a string of controversial incidents in the latest series of the hit drama, amid warnings its manipulation of real events could damage the future of the Monarchy.
Previous series of the historical drama have already been accused of inventing false claims about the Prince’s and his father, the Duke of Edinburgh’s, Scottish schooldays.
Founded in 1934 by German headmaster Kurt Hahn, Gordonstoun educated Prince Philip and his three sons, Charles, Andrew and Edward. The Crown shows a young Prince Philip building a wall at Gordonstoun – but sources say he did no such thing.
Sources say former staff and pupils were left reeling by The Crown’s depiction of Prince Charles being bullied during his time at the school, which charges fees of up to £38,250 a year. It shows Charles spending a miserable first night there after being forced to sleep in a bed under a broken window on a rainy night. It portrays the prince being humiliated during an orienteering task called the Gordonstoun Challenge, yet no such challenge exists.
And, Windmill Lodge, where Charles was accommodated, was only opened in 1959 – three years before he arrived – and would have been equipped with modern facilities at the time of his stay.
Mrs Kerr said she entirely accepted that programme-makers may wish to use ‘creative licence’ within their scripts, but she added: ‘We believe that it is important viewers know just how much of The Crown is imagined. We wish we could be proud to be included in this award-winning series, but without a disclaimer, The Crown does us and its audience a disservice. It is an entertaining drama but it is not a historical re-enactment.’
The school features in several episodes of the controversial Netflix show about the Royal Family
The principal of Gordonstoun school near Elgin, Morayshire has criticised the Netflix TV show The Crown over its portrayal of the time spent at the school by royals such as Prince Philip and Prince Charles (pictured here Finn Elliot playing a young Prince Philip)
Charles once reportedly described Gordonstoun as ‘Colditz in kilts’ but the school pointed to a House of Lords speech he gave in 1975, when he told peers: ‘I am always astonished by the amount of rot talked about Gordonstoun and the careless use of ancient cliches used to describe it.
‘It was only tough in the sense that it demanded more of you as an individual than most other schools did – mentally or physically. I am lucky in that I believe it taught me a great deal about myself and my own abilities and disabilities.’ The school’s stand comes hard on the heels of concerns voiced by Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, who said he felt uneasy watching his sister’s depiction in the drama and that he fears viewers will forget it is fiction.
Others backing calls for a disclaimer include Lady Glenconner, Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting for more than 30 years and a friend of Prince Charles, General Sir Richard Dannatt, a former head of the British Army, Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
In January, Netflix revealed 73 million households worldwide have watched The Crown since it began in 2016. Clive Irving, a Royal author based in the US, said many Americans regard the events depicted in The Crown as gospel truth.
The fourth series covers the years between Lord Mountbatten’s assassination by the IRA in 1979 and the ousting of Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Much of it focuses on Charles’s doomed marriage to Diana and supposed tensions in the relationship between the Queen and Mrs Thatcher.
Peter Morgan, The Crown’s creator, has previously defended making up scenes, adding: ‘You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.’
In a statement last week, Netflix said: ‘We have always presented The Crown as a drama and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events. As a result we have no plans, and see no need, to add a disclaimer.’