Could Netflix Be In Legal Trouble Over The Character Portrayals In The Crown?

"The Crown" has been taking creative liberties with the history of Britain's royal family since the first season premiered on Netflix in 2016, but the upcoming fifth season may prove to be the most controversial yet. The latest season of the hit Netflix drama is due to cover the events surrounding Prince Charles and Princess Diana's separation in 1992 through Diana's tragic death in 1997, per Harper's Bazaar. Members of the royal family, and those close to the monarchs, are reportedly concerned about the way they'll be depicted through this tumultuous course of events.

According to a new report published by the New York Post, Netflix may face legal trouble over the character portrayals in "The Crown" in the show's fifth season. The royal family could potentially sue the media juggernaut for libel if they believe the show runners have taken their creative liberties too far. A source close to the British monarchs spoke with The Sun about the underlying concern, saying, "This series will be the most controversial ever. It deals with events that are still incredibly raw for many."

Given the way the royal family was depicted in the fourth season of "The Crown," where they were seen in an unflattering light — particularly through their actions toward a young Diana — their fear is understandable. But could Netflix really be in legal trouble over the way they portray the royal family? If The Sun's insider information is any indication of things to come, Netflix could find themselves in a very tricky situation.

Netflix could be sued over their portrayal of the royal family in The Crown

For those unfamiliar with the legal term, "libel" is the act of publishing false material that can cause people to have a bad opinion of someone else, per Merriam-Webster. This is where the situation between Britain's royal family and Netflix gets tricky, as the show runners can argue that they're not publishing false information, but are instead putting a creative spin on real events. Regardless of Netflix's intention, the media company could face legal trouble if the royal family feels as though their image, and people's opinions of them, have been negatively impacted by their character portrayals in "The Crown."

According to an anonymous source who spoke with The Sun, close friends of the royal family have already sought legal counsel, though the fifth season of the show won't premiere until November 2022. These individuals spoke with counselors from the queen's preferred law firms of Harbottle & Lewis, and Farrer & Co., per The Sun. Allegedly, members of these law firms advised the monarch's friends that they could sue the creators of "The Crown" over unflattering depictions.

"Although this is not direct legal advice given to the queen and her family — they have been made aware of this advice," the source revealed to the news outlet. Whether this legal action will actually come to fruition remains to be seen.