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We absolutely must have historians to remind us at all times when stories about the royal family aren’t accurate

Mark Steel
·5-min read
<p>Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) in ‘The Crown’</p> (Des Willie/Netflix)

Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) in ‘The Crown’

(Des Willie/Netflix)

It’s a DISGRACE. The drama series called The Crown isn’t accurate, so Conservative MPs and the Daily Mail insist there should be a warning, from a historian, before each episode, telling us this isn’t accurate.

Because when anyone mentions the royals, they MUST BE ACCURATE.

But The Crown is closer to the truth than anything we were told when these events actually happened. So we need historians to remind us at all times when stories about the royal family aren’t accurate.

When Charles and Diana were married, a historian should have been at hand to say: “The story you are about to see on every television programme for the next six months about a fairyland marriage is entirely made-up shite. In fact, Charles is already shagging someone else. On the other hand, he clearly has nothing whatsoever in common with Diana, who already thinks he’s an irritating prick. But the scriptwriters felt she would add a coquettish charm to the plot, though they’re now terrified she’s going to kick off at some point. But please don’t let this spoil your enjoyment of the story.”

The Daily Mail and the MPs who complain about inaccuracy are right. Look how appallingly we’ve been misled about Prince Andrew. Every time he was on the news looking regal, and depicted as an outstanding example of noble values, a historian should have explained: “But all that is just for fun. In fact, he’s best mates with a paedophile.”

If there was time, maybe an expert on royal protocol, such as David Starkey, could have instructed that: “His full title includes the phrase ‘Most Noble Order of the Garter’, but if that’s true, you have to wonder what on earth have the other orders of the garter done, to be less noble than this scurrilous dingbat."

Then we could be entertained by the made-up narrative, having been assured of the facts.

Before Harry and Meghan got married, TV presenters were screeching: “I’m at Windsor Castle where the most beautiful couple in history, who we all love so much we would gladly set fire to our own liver to catch a glimpse of Meghan’s hat, are to be married in only 29 days from now. And already the atmosphere is so majestic, even the pigeons are pooping a golden glowing liquid that forms into heart-shaped bubbles. I can’t imagine the purest crack could give anyone a fraction of the thrill I relish from anticipating a man I will never meet, but is fourth in line to the throne, wearing a bunch of medals in an abbey.

“I thought the birth of my child was a poignant moment in my life, but compared to this magisterial glory, that was a shitty drizzly afternoon in which you get lost in Ikea for seven hours and when you come out your car’s been clamped.

“And now we’re going to see some film shot in a school where a bunch of six-year-olds, who have no idea who Harry or Meghan are, were made to each make a cake covered in sparkly glitter to show us how much they love them, and if their mummy couldn’t afford the ingredients, the children were told, ‘Well, get them from a food bank then, or tell mummy to go on the game for a few days. Good Morning Britain will be filming this, you insolent traitor.’”

So there should have been someone well informed to tell us: “Please don’t accept all that you see as true. Harry has already fallen out with the rest of them, and she can’t stomach them for five minutes. If it was down to her, the Queen wouldn’t even be invited, and the whole day would have been scheduled as pay-per-view on Netflix.”

Because Conservative MP Oliver Dowden, who’s in the cabinet, announced that the voice of a historian was essential, as: “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Exactly. He cares so much about correcting these mistruths, he’s made this issue a priority. Other MPs, who don’t share his admirable levels of patriotism, are fussing about with pandemics and no-deal Brexit, but he understands the most important matter at the moment, is making sure we don’t think badly of Princess Margaret.

Every year a new story emerges, such as the one in which we’re asked to believe that “Her Majesty is an excellent mimic”. Maybe this is true. Perhaps this Christmas she’ll say: “I don’t want to do some nonsense about national unity. I want to do my Lorraine Kelly, ‘Oh my God it’s been SUCH a year, hasn’t it, ooo but weren’t the nurses lovely, ooo they were such sweethearts.’ Thank you, and now – Miss Jennifer Lopez.”

But if this ISN’T true, we should always have a historian correcting these claims, telling us: “No, Her Majesty ISN’T a mimic. No, she DIDN’T make a break of 132 in a game of snooker against the president of Finland. No, Princess Charlotte HASN’T learned to do a poo in the shape of a map of Wales.”

I agree with Oliver Dowden and the Daily Mail. There should be a warning before any article about the royal family, that states: “The monarchy is justified according to a belief that one blood line is anointed by GOD to be divine. We feel sure no one is so extraordinarily daft they believe this to be true, firstly because it’s not the sort of thing a GOD would do, and secondly because if it was, he wouldn’t have selected this bunch of weirdos. But nonetheless we have been asked to point out this is clearly ridiculous and just a bit of fun.”

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