WHY would king-in-waiting Prince Charles give two hoots about The Crown a Netflix drama series even its creators admit cant possibly be entirely factual?
Its just a TV show, comes the regular cry from Buckingham Palace courtiers trying to discredit potentially damaging storylines in tellys international megahit.
Prince Charles is concerned that his ratings will plunge when his story is played out in The Crown
But theres a very real reason behind the paranoia of staff at Clarence House who I revealed this week had threatened to stop Prince Charles going to a Netflix red-carpet premiere with David Attenborough if any stars of The Crown were also in attendance.
Though a historical drama, The Crown is immensely popular among young people because of its binge-ability on Netflix.
And these young people, who didnt live through the trials and tribulations of Prince Charless thoroughly messy marriage to Princess Diana and the catastrophic divorce that followed, view the series like they do a documentary.
That should be no surprise. After all, the brilliance of the big-budget show is the feeling of complete authority when it comes to storylines.
Until now, no living members of the Royal Family have been damaged by the revelations in the series, which employs highly regarded royal historian Robert Lacey as a consultant to ensure credibility.
At 98 years old, Prince Philip was hardly going to care about suggestions he was an adulterer, having shrugged off those rumours for decades.
But Charles is an entirely different proposition altogether.
The Prince of Waless prickly team were left shaken by the public backlash against him two years ago over the overwhelming outpouring of emotion surrounding the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana.
Its astonishing to me that, even two decades on, the establishment and those close to Charles have still not realised the indelible doubts Diana put into the heads of the public about her ex-husbands ability to be king.
FIVE MOMENTS CHARLES WILL HOPE THE CROWN AVOIDS
CHEATING: Charles betrayed Diana with Camilla even before their marriage. Diana said: He used to see his lady (Camilla) once every three weeks before we got married.
BULIMIA: Prince caused Dianas eating disorders. Diana said she became bulimic after Charles put his hand on her waist, saying: A bit chubby here, arent we?
MENTAL HEALTH: Diana threw herself down the stairs at Sandringham and cut her wrists, chest and thighs as a cry for help after joining Royal Family.
BAD DAD: Diana said Charless reaction to the birth of Harry effectively ended their marriage. He said: Oh God, its a boy and hes even got red hair.
TV: In Dianas Panorama interview after famously saying there were three of us in this marriage, she also said Charles should not be king.
However, YouGovs popularity polling of the royals makes the long-term damage Charles suffered abundantly clear.
Only 47 per cent of the public have a positive opinion about the heir to the throne. The Queen has a 73 per cent positivity rating and Charless oldest son and next in line to the throne Prince William 68 per cent. But to put it into some context, it is much higher than Charless brother Prince Andrew, who languishes at just 21 per cent.
The polling is far, far worse for Camilla who the public have never forgiven for, in their perception, being the cause of so much misery for Diana. Her popularity remains at a worryingly low 29 per cent, given she is very likely our next queen.
Thats where the negativity towards The Crown comes from.
Producers have said next months third series will focus on Charles, who is played by The Durrells star Josh OConnor, as it introduces the character of Camilla Shand for the first time. But the next year is expected to be particularly damaging for Charles, when his marriage to Diana will be covered.
It’s unlikely the TV drama will be too kind on Camilla
And with this storyline, Robert Lacey and the shows producer and writer Peter Morgan have an abundance of source material from Diana herself. Most notably, of course, the harrowing account of her marriage to Charles that she chronicled for Andrew Morton.
While his ongoing relationship with Camilla even on their honeymoon on the Royal Yacht Britannia will not shock anyone over 40, for many millennials they will learn the ins and outs of the Royal Familys biggest melodrama for the first time.
And its hard to see how Camilla will be portrayed in a positive light, given she remained Charless mistress in the early years of the marriage despite pleas from Diana to leave her husband alone.
But how successful will the Royal Family be in somehow toning down Charless negative portrayal in the show?
Peter Morgan recently told The Guardian he meets senior royal staff four times a year, suggesting some serious lobbying could be going on behind the scenes.
But the Queens highly regarded communications secretary Donal McCabe insisted to the newspaper the Royal Family has never agreed to vet or approve content, has not asked to know what topics will be included and would never express a view as to the programmes accuracy.
Such a public intervention is another example of the very real fears the Crown currently have about The Crown.
Charless oldest son and next in line to the throne Prince William has a 68 per cent popularity rating
Harry and Meghan has also been falling out of favour with the British public after several high-profile spats over the claims of hypocrisy
Its not all bad news for Charles, his brother Prince Andrew languishes at just 21 per cent in the popularity ratings