The Crown hasn’t quite returned to screens yet - but its storylines are already ruffling royal feathers.
Series three of the popular series, which will arrive on Netflix next Sunday, has been criticised by the Queen’s former press secretary for suggesting she had an “affair” with her horse racing manager Lord Porchester.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Dickie Arbiter - who worked as Her Majesty’s spokesperson until 2000 - said: “This is very distasteful and totally unfounded.
“The Queen is the last person in the world to have ever considered looking at another man.”
The royal commentator, 79, added: “Not only is this muckraking — this is gossip that’s been washing around for decades.
“It’s got absolutely no substance.”
In the new series, the Queen - played by Olivia Colman - is seen enjoying a close relationship with Lord Porchester.
The first one-hour episode shows the monarch visiting stud farms in France and United States during a month-long period with the man she affectionately nicknames “Porchie”.
When she returns to Buckingham Palace, she is questioned over their closeness by her husband Prince Philip, played by Tobias Menzies.
The Queen snaps: “If you have something to say, say it now. Otherwise, if you don’t mind, I’m busy.”
Off-screen, the monarch remained close to Lord Porchester until his death in 2001, and there has never been any evidence of a romantic relationship.
Aribiter added that the show’s writer Peter Morgan was prone to “beefing up” his scripts for The Crown, and revealed his fears that “people will take whatever he writes as sacrosanct”.
He added: “The Crown is fiction. No one knows any conversation between members of the royal family, but people will tell the story they want to and sensationalise it.”
It was suggested in September that members of the royal household had met with The Crown producers to collaborate on accuracy.
In response, Donal McCabe, the Queen’s communications secretary, said that Buckingham Palace “is not complicit in interpretations made by the programme ... and would never express a view as to the programme’s accuracy”.