The Royal family told they can sue Netflix over hit series 'The Crown'

The Royal Family have grounds to sue Netflix over controversial series The Crown, legal experts have told them.

Close friends of the royals worried about their own portrayals in the upcoming fifth season sought legal advice - and were told they and the royals themselves had grounds for legal action, reports The Sun.

The advice from legal experts could lead them to take historic action against the streaming company.

A source told The Sun that although experts had not spoken directly to the Queen and her family, "they have been made aware of this advice".

The fifth season of the series is being filmed in the UK, heading to Netflix next November.

Imelda Staunton will star as the Queen alongside Elizabeth Debicki as Diana and Dominic West as Charles. The season is set to follow the Queen's "annus horribilis" in 1992, including Charles and Diana's divorce as well as the fallout from Diana's death in 1997.

Contrary to Prince William's wishes, Martin Bashir's infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Diana will also be included.

A source told the outlet that this series will be the "most controversial ever".

"It deals with events that are still incredibly raw for many."

Another source said the Queen's lawyers have been keeping a close eye on Netflix since Harry and Meghan's lucrative deal with the streaming service.

"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 called on Netflix to add a disclaimer that the show is fictional, but it is yet to do so. The show has been blasted for its portrayals of key characters and for factual inaccuracies, particularly in the fourth season.

Defamation experts say the Queen will be looking out for anything that might harm her reputation, whether Netflix insists it is fictional or not.

Helena Shipman of Carter-Ruck solicitors said The Crown could potentially "overstep the mark" with suggestions that the Queen failed in her duties as sovereign.

"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."

Buckingham Palace did not wish to comment.

This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.