Jonathan Pryce Defends ‘The Crown’ After Judi Dench Slams Netflix Series

Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce in The Crown

The Crown star Jonathan Pryce, who portrays Prince Philip in the upcoming fifth season of the royal drama, has spoken out against those who have recently criticized the Netflix series.

Speaking to Deadline, the Oscar-nominated actor said he’s “bitterly disappointed” by his “fellow artistes” who have slammed the show in the press, including demands that the series should carry a disclaimer highlighting it as a work of fiction.

The most high-profile criticism came from Dame Judi Dench in an open letter to The Times UK, where she called the series “cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.” She went on to write, “Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalized drama,’ the program makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode.”

Following Dench’s comments, Netflix did add a disclaimer to the series description for the latest trailer. However, it did not add any kind of message to the trailer itself.

“The vast majority of people know it’s a drama,” Pryce argued. “They’ve been watching it for four seasons.”

Pryce and his co-stars Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville, who play Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, respectively, agreed that the recent passing of The Queen had heightened the hostility towards the show.

“There is, and for my part as well, a great deal of compassion towards the Queen, and depths of feeling that she is no longer with us. That has certainly heightened it all,” Manville told Deadline.

“In a way, it is understandable. It is understandable people still feel a bit… like their nerve endings are still a little bit raw,” added Staunton.

Another source of tension surrounds the show’s upcoming portrayal of Princess Diana and her tragic death. While Netflix has confirmed that the car crash that took Diana’s life will not be shown on-screen, this hasn’t stopped the concerns from fans and critics.

When asked about whether she felt the show was intrusive, Manville said, “No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be involved with something that I felt was crossing the line. I don’t think the series does at all.”

The Crown, Season 5 Premiere, Wednesday, November 9, Netflix