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Royals Apparently Not Happy About Charles and Diana on The Crown

Emma Corrin and Josh O'Connor in The Crown (2016)

For three seasons, Netflix’s The Crown has managed to not have to deal with a lot of negative publicity from the actual British Royal Family, but season four has flipped the script on that.

According to reports, members of the royal family and even members of Parliament are bothered by the show’s portrayal of Diana and Prince Charles’ romance and marriage.

“They think he’s being really harshly depicted and that Diana is, effectively, being characterized as some kind of angel,” is apparently what Prince Charles thinks about the depiction of himself, says Camilla Tominey, a royal correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, in an interview with CBC News.

In previous seasons, the show has always given a lot of empathy to Charles and his situation, highlighting his sensitivity and his artistic nature but also the loneliness he feels due to his position within the family. With this current season, we are seeing Charles’ human failings as a husband to Diana, which will ultimately always have him look worse because of his long-standing affair with Camilla and the fact that Diana is no longer with us.

Emma Corrin, who played Diana this season, was asked about this issue and said that while The Crown takes from history and reality, “we always try and remind everyone that the series that we’re in is fictionalized to a great extent.”

She added, “I understand why people would be upset because this is history and even with Diana, you know, it’s still very much fresh, I suppose, everything that happened. So I do really understand if people would be upset.”

This season represents a period of time that many people lived through. Many of the players are still alive, and Prince William and Harry are now married with children of their own. It would always be difficult for Charles, now a grandfather of four, to have to relive parts of his life that he isn’t proud of. Plus, the show does highlight the worst parts of their marriage for the sake of time constraints. We know that there were periods where they loved each other, but that isn’t good storytelling, so it isn’t really put in.

Royal expert Hugo Vicker told Vanity Fair,

They always liked to portray him as a kind of wimp. This time, though, he’s not only portrayed as a wimp, but also as a very angry, unpleasant person yelling at his wife.…Some of the looks he gives Diana, you begin to wonder whether in the next season we’re going to catch him conspiring to have her murdered in a tunnel in Paris, or something ghastly. I wouldn’t put it past them [on The Crown]…it’s really, really disgraceful what they’ve done to him in this season.

Vickers complained that the show also doesn’t highlight any of Charles’ good qualities as a Prince and father: “I mean, does he ever do any work? Does he ever do an engagement? Does he ever actually achieve anything? No, they didn’t show a single thing that he does.”

All valid points, but they only serve to highlight that this is not the point of The Crown. It has chosen certain narratives, and the only person allowed to come out truly unscathed is Elizabeth II herself. While I don’t think The Crown hates Charles, I think that it is hard to empathize with a man with such privilege not being able to get it together. He is married to this beautiful 19-year-old woman and he is incapable of making it work—something that is not his fault, as he is truly in love with another woman, but still doesn’t make his actions and rigidity appealing.

Diana may not have been a perfect angel, but the issues she had with the coldness of the royal family are just more relatable to the general public. The answer isn’t then to just make Diana a shrew; it is to realize that this is fiction and to read some books or listen to a great podcast about it. The Crown is great drama, but it picks and chooses what it wants to highlight.

When season five comes, I can imagine it will only be worse. I think that the best course of action is to do what Prince Harry told biographer Angela Levin about watching The Crown: “I’m going to make sure I stop it before they get to me.”

(image: Netflix)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.