Scobie: Actually, ‘The Crown’ is well-researched from reporting in the ’90s

Omid Scobie’s Yahoo UK column this week is all about The Crown and the royal establishment’s collective freakout over The Crown. Just yesterday, I was thinking that there had been a strange lull in the freakout, almost as if Buckingham Palace had suddenly realized that maybe their campaign against Netflix was looking downright unhinged. I’m sure King Charles will rally and there will be another blitz of “Charles is so sad about The Crown” stories coming out just days and hours before the new season drops in less than two weeks. Which leads me to Scobie’s column and his very effective counterargument: that while The Crown is a fictional dramatization, Peter Morgan has based the show completely on extensive written records from the time.

Scobie on all of those royal “documentaries”: Without sounding dramatic, many of these supposedly authoritative specials have become superspreaders of misinformation on the royal beat. But you’ll be unlikely to hear many complaints about them. Right now, the energy for that is all aimed at The Crown, which is less than two weeks away from its season five premiere.

The Crown tackles the ‘90s, with receipts: This chaotic decade – which ended with public support for the monarchy at its lowest – became the House of Windsor’s worst in history. And thanks to how publicly many of its scandals played out, they’re also some of the most documented. But despite the abundance of material banked in historical archives, the push to label The Crown as a total work of fiction has become fiercer than ever. Just like many things (and people) initially embraced by The Firm, the show has now become the enemy.

On Judi Dench’s letter: Even legendary actress Dame Judi Dench spoke out, writing an open letter to The Times about the series’ “crude sensationalism” of history. Now, I’m a big fan of Dench’s work, but the decision to go out of her way to label the series as “cruelly unjust” has been… interesting. The letter, which asked for a disclaimer to appear at the start of the show, was written with no reference to her own award-winning depictions of the Queen’s great-great-grandmother in Victoria & Abdul and Her Majesty, Mrs Brown – true royal stories that received rave reviews but also criticism from certain historians about accuracy. Perhaps the letter reflects some regret on Dench’s behalf… or perhaps there’s more to the theory that her close friendship with Camilla, now the Queen Consort, is what led her to defend the Royal Family.

The British media is criticizing The Crown for using storylines they reported on at the time: As easy as it is to throw blame at producers and writers working on Peter Morgan’s creation, is it actually warranted? A closer look at some of the most breathlessly criticised plot lines in the forthcoming episodes reveal that a lot of what is currently being called into question by the media actually originated in the same media outlets currently leading the onslaught.

John Major’s tantrum: Former UK prime minister John Major was absolutely right to point out that stories suggesting Prince Charles came to him to discuss the Queen’s abdication are inaccurate, but mainstream media coverage of his comments have been missing the fact that this very rumour ran rife amongst royal correspondents at the time, making its way into gossip columns, biographies and even as far as the pages of the New York Times.

The Penny Knatchbull storyline: Outrage over a storyline involving rumours of an inappropriate friendship between the late Prince Philip and Penny Knatchbull has also been loud in the press. Some newspapers have done nothing to prevent such rumours spreading by writing suggestive stories about the countess’s ‘regular’ visits to his Sandringham home, how his “flirty bond” with the aristocrat “kept him young”, and details of their “highly personal” friendship.

The Crown is actually well-sourced & well researched: I’ve spent much of the past week watching the new season and while, due to a pesky embargo, I’m not allowed to share anything about it yet, I can say that a lot of this series takes its lead from information readily available in the public domain, be it on-the-record television interviews, Diana’s audio tapes to Andrew Morton, numerous biographies (including Jonathan Dimbleby’s 1994 book, which Charles co-operated with) and archival reporting from British newspapers.

The Windsors can’t blame anyone but themselves: It’s easy to sling mud at episodes few have actually seen yet, but in my opinion much of the scandal this season is sourced from one place: reality. I’d imagine that this is what scares the royal institution the most. Because while The Crown’s scripted dialogue comes straight from the writer’s room, and you’d be a fool to treat this show as a historical documentary, the majority of jaw-droppers in the plot come courtesy of the Royal Family and the press. And for those, they have no one to blame other than themselves.

[From Yahoo UK]

I actually didn’t know that the stories about Charles pressuring his mother to abdicate were widely reported at the time. I know he sat there, on camera, with Jonathan Dimbleby, and whined about how his mom needed to die (and in the same interview, he dithered when it came to talking about what he would do as king and why he wanted to be king). Charles believes he’s a lot slicker than he actually is, and this was back in the ‘90s, when Diana could effortlessly make him look like an a–hole all the time. Anyway, you get the point – the problem isn’t that Peter Morgan is making things up out of thin air to vilify Charles and the Windsors. The problem is that Morgan has a wealth of receipts and he’s choosing to soft-pedal the actual history, and even that soft-pedaling makes Charles look terrible. Because he was and is terrible.

Posters & photos courtesy of Netflix, IG courtesy of EW.

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52 Responses to “Scobie: Actually, ‘The Crown’ is well-researched from reporting in the ’90s”

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  1. equality says:

    “…the majority of jaw-droppers in the plot come courtesy of the Royal Family and the press. And for those, they have no one to blame other than themselves.” Love it. Hit them with the truth. Whether true or not, the BM who are whining about the Crown basically wrote the plotline.

    • Becks1 says:

      I loved that line too. And its so true…..Peter Morgan didn’t make Charles have an affair that lasted his entire marriage, Peter Morgan didn’t make charles and Camilla treat Diana like crap, PM didn’t make the Firm try to break Diana, and so on.

      Sorry not sorry you had a bad decade there Charles, but its not the Crown’s fault.

    • DouchesOfCambridge says:

      Scobie rammed in with this one. I love it. Makes the RF sound so stupid 😂 “courtesy of the Royal family” lol “from a book that charles cooperated on” “Judy Dench friendship with Camilla made her do it” the knives are sharp.

  2. Chantal says:

    Lol! Omid isn’t taking any prisoners! I love how he came for everybody but ultimately lays the blame exactly where it should be – on the RF!

  3. NotTheOne says:

    All the royal complaining is just drawing attention to the series. Love it!

  4. The Hench says:

    “the majority of jaw-droppers in the plot come courtesy of the Royal Family and the press. And for those, they have no one to blame other than themselves.”

    Yup, this, right there. I am actually finding this highly amusing. Charles orchestrated an extremely lengthy and, no doubt, expensive, PR campaign to rehabilitate Camilla for the last 25 years. Bit by bit, inch by inch, memories faded, the messy reality of C&C’s behaviour was washed over, various other people were thrown under the bus as distraction etc. It was remarkably successful. And then, JUST as he becomes King and Camilla is finally queen – BAM!! – the Crown is back to remind those of us old enough and introduce a new generation to their appalling behaviour. And there’s no escape because the more Chuck whines the more receipts will be unearthed.
    I am so looking forward to this.

    • Flowerlake says:

      My mother’s generation* might have thought it was semi-normal that a prince married such a young woman to ‘breed’, but many millenials and especially Gen Z does not.
      This really won’t go down well. Season 4 caused quite a few of them to troll Charles and Camilla on social media with “We love Diana” type of posts. Season 5 will be even more of a thing, I think.

      *Not everyone maybe, but I remember this wasn’t much of an issue in the 90s when talking about Diana and Charles (it was all about the affairs etc), but is way more of an issue now.

      • Tessa says:

        It was anachronistic back the when Charles courted a teen.

      • Emily_C says:

        I was a child when they married and therefore not paying attention, but when I found out a few years later about how young she was vs. his age, I was shocked. I’m Gen X. My father’s 5 years older than my mother, and that’s the biggest age gap among the Boomers I know.

        And finding out he married her to “breed”, and that she had to be a virgin? Oh hell no. That was not considered the tiniest bit normal then. You’d have to go back incredibly far to find when it was considered normal, and then it would ONLY be among the nosebleed upper classes. And even then, the men were supposed to respect their wives. Nothing about the way Charles treated Diana would ever be considered acceptable.

      • Becks1 says:

        I think that’s part of the issue with the Crown, is that it just reminds people how messed up it all was. Like I know I never really put it all together until maybe 10, 15 years ago? Like she really did get married at barely 20, to a man in his early 30s, have a baby right away before she really knew at all what she was getting into, etc. I just didn’t think of it that way until I got older, maybe after I got married? Which was 2007, so the 10 year anniversary of her death, so maybe that’s what got it into my head, that she was 36 when she died (and again, barely 36) and how messed up it all was. I think the Crown really is bring that all into the light in a way that is problematic for the royals. She really was a lamb being led to the slaughter.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I was a teenager when they got married and I knew that I wouldn’t have been prepared to get married at 19, let alone to someone so much older. Most of my friends thought it was weird, but most of the romance novels that I read (and Diana as well) had that age gap between hero and heroine. I can’t tell you how many Harlequins I read where the heroines were 19 and falling in love with men pushing forty.

      • Jennifer says:

        It was very hard to find an aristocratic virgin in the 70’s. Diana was probably the only option because she was so young and naive.

      • twoz says:

        Oh, no, there were definitely eyebrows raised at the time, plus commentary that if Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs had walked in off the street it would have been recommended that the couple undertake a lot of counselling because of the age and life experience differences.
        Plus there was talk even then that if Charles had married a woman with life experience – such as Rotty or even Anna Wallace – the tabloids would have dug up details of past lovers and gone to town.

    • Tessa says:

      I think side s were taken before Charles spin doctors took over. Some did not care some were c and c fans already. and some did not like c and c no matter the spin. Charles and his spin doctors were unwise to trash the deceased Diana in the process

  5. Neners says:

    Has the BRF considered the possibility that they are garbage incarnate and always have been? Because….

  6. Brassy Rebel says:

    Scobie dropping some truth bombs here. He’s the only royal reporter not afraid to call out the royals.

    • C-Shell says:

      I love the new Omid. When his new posts come into my late Wednesday night Twitter feed, it’s a perfect bedtime story! This one checks all the boxes. Take that, CIII and BM!

  7. Eurydice says:

    I love the little dig that seems to refer to H&M – “Just like many things (and people) initially embraced by The Firm, the show has now become the enemy.”

  8. Ms Lemon says:

    ‘Just like many things (and people) initially embraced by The Firm, the show has now become the enemy.’
    Tell it like it is Omid!! Such a well written piece, throwing the blame right where it belongs 👏 It’s going to be a long two weeks!

  9. Bettyrose says:

    Does the BRF really believe of themselves that they’ve spent the last 50 odd years being quiet and dignified and not leaking their bizness all over town?

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      I think they actually do believe that, BettyRose. They think their 💩 don’t stink, as my late mother used to say. So they just do whatever they want and we’re supposed to love them. Hell to the NO!

      • bettyrose says:

        There’s really no purpose to people who can’t live in the modern world. I get the value of a non-partisan entity who represents the culture and history of a nation, but I don’t see the point if they cling to living in a bygone era who pretend media doesn’t exist (except when they want to use it for their own gain).

  10. dee(2) says:

    This Crown blowback is a monster of their own creation. They were going to of course take a hit when this season premiered, but honestly it probably would have been kept to people who follow them, and the occasional viral tweet that would be forgotten in a month by most people. For all of their media framing of PH as “emotional”, they react all the time in haste based off emotions and not forethought. Now they have almost guaranteed every blog and large news organization will be interviewing people mentioned (if alive), and rerunning articles from ’91-95. Not to mention the guaranteed Twitter side by sides, and Tiktok videos with actual audio recordings overlayed by commentary.

  11. Flowerlake says:

    The British Media talks all kinds of nonsense, but now they’re supposedly concerned about supposed misinformation?


  12. Lucy says:

    I read the article last night and thought it was glorious.

    If anything, the Crown has humanized these free loaders and soft pedals how truly awful they were and are.

    The biggest revision they’ve done is buy into Charles and Camilla as star crossed lovers, instead of her being one of several mistresses battling for supremacy. Focusing the story line that way makes sense for narrative reasons and does Charles a favor that he won’t acknowledge.

    Anyway, go Scoble!

    • Elizabeth says:

      That struck me watching Season 4, that they completely eliminated Charles’ relationship with Kanga Tryon. Also, Josh O’Connor and Emma Corwin looked so close in age, that you didn’t really get the sense of the age gap between Charles and Diana.

      • Becks1 says:

        YUP. I’ve said on here before that casting Josh O’Connor was doing Charles a huge favor. Not only was he great in the role, but he looked so close in age to Emma Corwin that the age gap and power dynamic was downplayed. Dominic West is also going to be great in the role, but the age gap is going to be more obvious I think.

  13. Lizzie says:

    Anytime they want to release QEII or KCIII personal diaries then we can compare notes. I saw a tweet from a historian who said if the rf won’t release any diaries or writings then dramatists and not historians must step in.

  14. Nic919 says:

    Some of these RR are old enough that they were reporting on these stories back then and simply hope people forget that they did. Jobson being one of them. Omid is simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the UK royal reporters.

    • Blujfly says:

      Yep, Jobson, Penny Junor, Christopher Andersen, Bower, Peter Hunt (though I like him), Jennie Bond, Richard Kay, they all were there and other than Hunt they all had sides.

    • Jay says:

      Exactly. How many of these royal reporters who remember this time period will be able to resist chiming in with what they heard or guessed at the time? They might be nominally supportive of Charles, but when an opportunity arises to brag about their connections or share little tidbits from the 90’s to get their own name trending, I can’t see any of them passing it up.

  15. Blujfly says:

    He is right. It was in the news constantly even in the US. The early to mid 90s were peak tabloid era and the papers were filled with Charles and Diana and Trump, Ivana and Marla Maples. And what all of them had in common is that they were leaking and cooperating with friendly to them press outlets and so the coverage was “well informed” in the sense it was from direct sources. The rewriting of history by these increasingly right wing figures is troubling.

    • Elizabeth says:

      There were countless articles in People magazine, US Weekly and Vanity Fair not to mention the Star, The Enquirer and the Globe. I remember watching the Jonathan Dimbley documentary and the BBC documentary. It’s all public knowledge and they’ve all written about it in the books that came out about Charles and Diana before they even divorced.

  16. Blujfly says:

    Scobie is a right wing source of deliberate misinformation owned by Rupert Murdoch? Oh honey no that’s The Sun.

  17. TIFFANY says:

    We were around for Tampongate. I laughed me arse off then and I’m gonna laugh even harder where it is renacted for this show. 🤣🤣🤣

    • lanne says:

      Tampon gate! I’m rubbing my hands together with glee. Mainly because they brought all of this bad mojo on themselves. This is cosmic payback for how badly they have treated Meghan and Harry.

      Now they all get to smile and soldier through it just like they told Meghan to do. My goodness, I can’t stand people who dish out garbage they can’t take. It’s my ultimate test of respect for a person. I have ZERO respect for any active members of the royal family who dish out shitty behavior, but whine and cry when they have to take 1/10th of what they dished out.

      A book written about this era could be called, “The Tampon’s Spare”.

  18. Cessily says:

    Charles has an overblown sense of self and his popularity. They may love him in Britain but the rest of the world especially those who followed how he and Camilla harassed Princess Diana until her death and after have no respect for him. He isn’t popular in the states beyond a good laugh. Can’t wait for the new season of the Crown followed by the release of Prince Harry’s memoir two months later.. Charles better have his blood pressure under control so he makes it to that May coronation.

    • Emily_C says:

      Do they love him in Britain? People I see randomly online keep joking about how they hope Rishi Sunak does to him what Liz Truss did to his mother.

      • Cessily says:

        I don’t truly know how the British feel about him, I only see the articles claiming his popularity is so great there. (Same with W&K) 🤷🏻‍♀️. My British friends are indifferent to him but they have also lived in the states for decades.

  19. Feeshalori says:

    Dianamania had spread here to America at that time and the newspapers were chock full of stories about her. Those of us can even remember her uncle even announcing her eligibility to be Charles‘s bride because she was a virgin. Tampongate kept us entertained as the marriage deterioration saga played along. You couldn’t make this sh$t up.

  20. Jay says:

    Love that Omid is telling the truth – these storylines didn’t come out of nowhere, you know?

    Since so much was drawn from actual tabloid fodder of the time, it makes me wonder how much some of the older rota will want to write about their own versions of the story. It seems pretty likely, right?

    Charles might wish them to ignore the Crown, but when given the perfect opportunity to insert themselves into a juicy story, who could resist? They’ll want to talk about what they knew at the time, what they couldn’t reveal then, and maybe evey nitpick the show, but in the process they’ll be giving the show more legitimacy, won’t they?

    It’ll be curious to see if Charles will try to reign in the media, or if he’ll try to use them to rebut the allegations point by point. Either way, his chickens are coming home to roost!

  21. Amy Bee says:

    Omid is absolutely right as I said the other day, the tabloids have said that everything they write is the truth. So where are the inaccuracies that they are now complaining about?

  22. Blujfly says:

    Did Martin Bashir make Charles say in his engagement interview in 1981, “whatever love is?” No. Of course not. And over and over again American women who were polled cited that moment as the moment that they turned on Charles. In the US it was played again and again and again. The British media downplayed it in deference to the monarch. What we are seeing is the deference transferring to a man that had to sell out his family to get it. It’s scary, frankly. Watching the right wing papers come hard defending King Charles after 3 decades of mocking and reporting his scandals with great glee is whiplash.

  23. QuiteContrary says:

    I lived in London during TamponGate. The newspapers were packed with stories about it. If this season of “The Crown” rings true to a lot of viewers, that will be because the BRF’s actions at that time were pretty unforgettable.
    When you’re the punchline of that big of a joke, as Charles was, your reputation can’t ever be fully recovered. He’ll always be the Tampon royal and he has no one to blame but himself.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      I lived in London then as well and agree. The British tabloids have always been like this and they did not go easy on Chuck. He brought it on himself, though, for sure. Of course, they were going to write about it. What I mean also by “brought it on himself” isn’t excusing the media, but demonstrates just how terrible Chuck is (but thinks he’s an expert) on positioning himself and using his skills with the press and public. He shot himself in the foot, or maybe his pen holding hand, since that’s in issue too.

  24. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    This is their legacy. Despite how many stuffy, staid paintings they commission of themselves, future generations will remember the current royal family as outdated, racist, philandering, grifting people who tried to destroy a woman because she had the nerve to be more popular, punished a veteran and his biracial wife because they dared to speak out against racism, and coddled and protected a rapist. THIS is their legacy. If they don’t like it, they should have behaved differently.

  25. Thelma says:

    This piece by Omid is so good. TRUTH!

  26. MsGnomer says:

    Gen X here. Watched the wedding live when I was 10 or so. I remember the news of her death and where I was standing when I heard. Such a big deal was made about her virginity, her blood line, the impossibility of divorce, and all of this ancient tradition…. fast forward to today…the king is married to a divorced woman, his heir married a commoner, his brother is a pedo, and his youngest child fled the nation because the family is so toxic and cruel. Glad to hear the latest season of the Crown is close to the history we all lived. I dont think that will even be enough to wake the king to the reality of his realm.