Inbreeding slur anything but Crown-ing glory for TV show, Netflix told

A derogatory remark about Borderers made in hit TV series The Crown has been slammed as crass and offensive.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 3:05 pm
Helena Bonham Carter, Princess Margaret in The Crown, at a promotional event for the show. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Netflix)
Helena Bonham Carter, Princess Margaret in The Crown, at a promotional event for the show. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Netflix)

In an episode of the third series of the show now available on Netflix, actress Helen Bonham Carter, playing the late Princess Margaret, utters an insult to the people of Peebles while shopping in the town.

In the controversial scene, her character visits a department store in Peebles to buy a pair of skimpy swimming trunks for her then lover, landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn, played by Harry Treadaway, and remarks about the locals: “I think we’ve stumbled across an experiment in inbreeding.”

There is no record of the Angus-born royal, alive from 1930 to 2002, ever saying any such thing, but she is known to have visited the town in August 1973 while staying at the Glen, near Innerleithen.

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Princess Margaret buying swimming trunks for Roddy Llewellyn, as depicted in The Crown.

Exception has been taken to the poetic licence taken by Peter Morgan, the show’s writer, in attributing that slur to the princess, however.

South Scotland Labour list MSP Colin Smyth, for one, is not amused, and he’s also unhappy that the offending scene was shot in Rye in East Sussex rather than in the Borders.

The Dumfries-based MSP said: “It’s common knowledge in the Borders that Princess Margaret probably did meet Roddy Llewellyn in the beautiful Borders and took advantage of the fantastic shops in Peebles to impress him, so for once The Crown seems to have got something right.

“It’s just a shame they blow it with the crass and offensive comment attributed to Princess Margaret.

“Maybe if Netflix had filmed the series in the Borders, they would have found out how wrong the comments are and the producers could have followed in Princess Margaret’s footsteps by taking full advantage of the great shopping offer in Peebles that goes well beyond swimming trunks.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council added: “The Queen and members of the royal family have spent a lot of time in Peebles over the years and they always seem to enjoy meeting the wonderful members of this community.

“TV series like The Crown can use poetic licence, and I don’t think anyone will pay much notice to this or take any offence.”

“Fans of the show are more than welcome to pay Peebles a visit all year round and sample the many shops, cafes, restaurant, hotels and bars in its bustling town centre.”