‘The Crown’ Creator and Cast Defend Show Against Backlash Over ‘Exploiting’ Royals and Diana’s Death: The Show Is Not Unkind

The Crown

“The Crown” creator Peter Morgan and his new cast members Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West are standing up for the Netflix drama series against continued claims that it exploits the royal family. The show, which launches Season 5 in November, has come under renewed scrutiny following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The new season will cover some of the royal family’s most tumultuous years in the 1990s, including the bitter and highly-publicized divorce between Prince Charles (West) and Princess Diana (Debicki).

Last month, Britain’s Daily Telegraph published a report with the headline: “‘The Crown’s’ decision to show ‘all-out’ war between Charles and Diana raises concerns at Palace.” In the article, a friend of the newly-crowned King Charles slammed the Netflix series as “exploitative” and accused Netflix of having “no qualms about mangling people’s reputations,” even that of Queen Elizabeth despite her recent death.

“I think we must all accept that the 1990s was a difficult time for the royal family, and King Charles will almost certainly have some painful memories of that period,” Morgan said in response to the claim. “But that doesn’t mean that, with the benefit of hindsight, history will be unkind to him, or the monarchy. The show certainly isn’t. I have enormous sympathy for a man in his position — indeed, a family in their position. People are more understanding and compassionate than we expect sometimes.”

While “The Crown” Season 5 is about to air on Netflix, its cast and crew were ready to start filming Season 6 when news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing was confirmed. The sixth season will depict Diana’s tragic death, which has led to several reports in recent weeks that the friends close to the royal family are concerned with dramatizing such a sensitive part of history. A source on set told The Sun earlier this month that “turning Diana’s final days and hours into a drama feels very uncomfortable…The show always tried to present a fictional version of royal history with as much sensitivity as possible. But lately, as things get closer to the present day, it feels harder to strike that balance.”

“Peter and the entire crew of this job do their utmost to really handle everything with such sensitivity and truth and complexity, as do actors,” Debicki said about filming Diana’s death. “The amount of research and care and conversations and dialogue that happen over, from a viewer’s perspective, something probably that you would never ever notice is just immense. From that very first meeting [with] Peter, I knew that I’d entered into this space where this was taken seriously [in] a deeply caring way. So that’s my experience of the show.”

West added, “It’s a hell of a season, because it deals with Diana’s death and appalling scenes, like having to break that news to your sons. I’ve got two boys of that age and so it’s a heavy, heavy responsibility to get it right and something I think we all take pretty seriously.”

According to Lesley Manville, who takes over the role of Princess Margaret starting in Season 5, no scripts for “The Crown” Season 6 were re-written following the Queen’s passing.

“We’re still doing the scripts. Nothing’s changed, they haven’t been rewritten,” Manville said. “Why would they? We’re dealing with the 1990s. One’s feelings about what the whole nation has been through is kind of a private thing. Obviously, we talk to each other a lot [about it]. But the actual process of making the program is the same.”

“The Crown” Season 5 debuts Nov. 9 on Netflix.

From Variety US