Entertainment

Royals told they can sue Netflix

Friends shown in the new series consulted the Queen’s lawyers who said they and the royals had grounds for legal action, The Sun reports.Close friends of the Firm, worried about their own portrayals in the upcoming fifth series, recently sought advice from top solicitors.They included experts from the Queen’s favoured law firms Farrer & Co and Harbottle & Lewis.The friends close to the monarchy were told that they are entitled to sue the show’s makers.And crucially the pals have shared the advice with the Royal Family — paving the way for them to take historic action.“Friends of the Royal Family sought legal advice,” a source said.“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.”Series five is being filmed across the UK and will hit the streaming service next November.Imelda Staunton will play the Queen with Elizabeth Debicki as Diana and Dominic West as Charles.It will follow the Queen’s 1992 “annus horribilis”, Charles and Diana’s divorce, and the fallout from Di’s 1997 death.Netflix is also set to defy Prince William and feature Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with his mum. The Sun recently revealed it will get its own episode.“This series will be the most controversial ever,” a source said. “It deals with events that are still incredibly raw for many.”Last year Harry and Meghan agreed to an estimated £110 million ($200 million) deal with Netflix for programs.“The Queen’s lawyers have been keeping a close eye on everything,” another source told The Sun.“Given Harry’s money-spinning deal, The Crown has become even more of a talking point.“Worryingly, a lot of people, especially Americans, seem to think it is effectively a documentary — and much of the drama hasn’t exactly been flattering from a royal perspective. But these are real people and many are still alive.“The next series could potentially be very damaging.”The UK government has demanded Netflix add a disclaimer to make clear the show is fiction — but the service has yet to do so.Last week it was revealed Diana’s pal Jemima Khan had quit as a show consultant over its handling of the princess’ story.The Queen is said to have been “particularly annoyed” at a series two storyline where young Charles was shown in tears after dad Philip called him “bloody weak”.Friends of Charles raged about a fourth series portrayal of his treatment of Diana. They described it as “trolling on a Hollywood budget” and “fiction presented as fact”.And series four was blasted for factual inaccuracies. These included Lord Mountbatten writing to Charles the day before his assassination, Charles calling Camilla every day early in his marriage to Diana, and the princess throwing a tantrum while touring Australia.Defamation experts say Her Majesty and top briefs will be keeping a keen eye out for anything that causes serious harm or damage to her reputation — whether Netflix insists it is fictional drama or not.“One battleground is the main message of the programme,” said Helena Shipman at Carter-Ruck solicitors.“Is it that the Queen acted coldly following the death of Diana? That would be a statement of opinion and Netflix would have an easy defence saying it is simply their own honest account.“However, where The Crown has potential to overstep the mark is by suggesting something more serious — such as the Queen failing in her duties as sovereign and harming the country.“That’s arguably a fact a defendant would have to prove true and the defence threshold for that is much higher.“There are also other elements to having the potential for a libel claim, which is whether viewers believe what they’re watching is true or not. If they understand the show is fiction, and it’s a drama, their opinion of the Queen would not be lowered.“But the fact she is being given initial advice about libel action says that she considers her portrayal a false one.”Palace insiders insist that any action by the Royal Family would be unprecedented.The Palace did not want to comment.This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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