Can The Royal Family Really Do This To The Crown's Producers?

The British royal family is well aware that every move of theirs is closely watched, and often times criticized. For the most part, the royals maintain a stiff upper lip in the face of gossip and scrutiny — "never complain, never explain" is said to be the queen's motto, via Express. But make no mistake — they have no problem lawyering up when the media oversteps its bounds. Take the palace's legal threats against Tatler, made over its coverage of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (via Cosmopolitan). Then there's Meghan Markle's ongoing lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday, which published portions of a letter she wrote to her father before her wedding to Prince Harry.

But tabloid gossip is one thing; portraying the royals' lives on screen is another. Millions have tuned in for the past two years to watch "The Crown," the acclaimed Netflix series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The series takes liberties with historical events, a fact which the show's historical consultant, Robert Lacey, freely admits. 

"We're not pretending this is a chronological record of those years," he has told Town & Country. "This is a drama which picks out particular objects." Some take issue with this. Judy Finnigan of Express said the last season of the series only served "to blacken the characters of the royal family" by showing the queen as "cold and snobbish," and Prince Charles as "tortured, selfish and cruel."

Could the royals have a legal case against the producers of the hit series?

The palace may opt to sue the popular show

True, "The Crown" is a work of fiction. Still, the royals are reportedly displeased by the way they come off in certain segments of the Emmy Award-winning series. For instance, one episode in Season 2 portrayed Prince Philip as being dismissive of Prince Charles' complaints about his boarding school. A senior palace courtier told Oprah Daily that the queen "was upset by the way Prince Philip is depicted as being a father insensitive to his son's well-being."

The Sun reported that close friends of the royal family are concerned about how they themselves might be depicted in future seasons. They have been in contact with the queen's primary law firms, who reportedly told them that they have the right to sue Netflix and the producers of "The Crown" for libel. 

According to a source who spoke to the tabloid, "Friends of the royal family sought legal advice. The advice they received would also apply to the royal family. Although this is not direct legal advice given to the queen and her family — they have been made aware of this advice."

The royals may indeed want to take action at this point. The finale of Season 4 showed the rift between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, which indicates that the new season will take viewers through their divorce, Diana's death, and the queen's reactions to both. A cease-and-desist order from the palace might keep Netflix from showing Charles — and/or the queen — in an unflattering light.