The Crown is accused of ‘retrofitting the Harry and Meghan story onto a plot about Charles and Diana’ in new Mail podcast that unpicks latest season of hit Netflix show
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The Crown has been accused of ‘retrofitting the story of Harry and Meghan’ onto a plot about King Charles and Princess Diana, in a new Mail podcast.
In the first episode of The Crown: Fact or Fiction, the Mail’s royal experts debunk invented details in the latest series of the hit Netflix show about the Royal Family, which is to feature Diana’s death in 1997.
Mail writer Robert Hardman and the Mail on Sunday’s Royal Correspondent Natasha Livingstone unpick a plot centred on the 50th birthday of the future Queen Camilla.
It portrays a lunch between Diana and then Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Princess of Wales begins her post-royal life in July 1997, with Mr Blair reporting back to Queen Elizabeth that Diana wants to have an official role for the palace.
‘As a divorced woman – and no longer an HRH – Diana is now learning the difference between being officially in the family and out,’ says the Queen, portrayed by Imelda Staunton.
The new series of The Crown portrays a lunch between Diana and then Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Princess of Wales begins her post-royal life in July 1997
In the latest season, The Queen, played by Imedla Staunton, tells Tony Blair: ‘As a divorced woman – and no longer an HRH – Diana is now learning the difference between being officially in the family and out’
The Daily Mail’s Robert Hardman has accused the creators of The Crown of ‘very much retrofitting the story of Harry and Meghan into the story of Diana and Charles’. Pictured: Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki portraying Charles and Diana
Hardman tells the podcast: ‘Clearly, that is very much retrofitting the story of Harry and Meghan into the story of Diana and Charles.
‘We do know this lunch happened, I believe it was at the invitation of Cherie Blair, not Tony Blair’s.’
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In 2022, Prince Harry revealed in his Netflix documentary that he had initially asked for a ‘half in, half out’ arrangement when negotiating the terms of his and Meghan’s departure from royal life.
He added that the Royal Family made it clear this was not an option.
Hardman said that Alistair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spin doctor, was a consultant on the series so could have advised on the former Prime Minister’s side of the story
One of the most controversial moments of the Netflix series, which has been dogged by criticism of historical inaccuracy, is the portrayal of the car crash which killed Diana in Paris.
Although it is not directly shown on screen, both the experts agree that, while shocking, it is not handled in poor taste.
The first episode of The Crown’s sixth series goes on to depict a row within the Royal Family about whether or not the Queen will attend the 50th birthday party of Charles’s new partner, Camilla. It is an occasion Diana is also accused of upstaging by taking Princes William and Harry to Saint-Tropez, France, at the invitation of Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed.
The saga is one of several plotlines which Hardman says is completely invented.
‘We see them taking pretty rich liberties with the truth,’ he says.
‘The idea that the Prince of Wales wanted the Queen at this party is for the birds.
In 2022, Prince Harry revealed in his bombshell Netflix documentary that he had initially asked for a ‘half in, half out’ arrangement when negotiating the terms of his and Meghan’s departure from royal life. Pictured: The couple during their engagement announcement in 2017
In one episode, Blair is portrayed having a meeting with the Queen lobbying for her to allow Diana to have a greater role
Blair greeting the Queen in 2004 as he arrived for the Award for Enterprise at Buckingham Palace
‘At this point they’re just trying to normalise the relationship. There’s absolutely no question of the Queen coming to the party.’
He adds: ‘The idea of strategically making this a big royal event was just utter nonsense.’
The court circulars at the time showed the Queen would have been in Derbyshire on the day of the party – something Charles would have known about months in advance.
Other elements of the scenes rang more true, however, including when Camilla told Charles to just let their relationship happen ‘in its own time’.
The plot setting out Diana’s budding romance with Al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, also broadly follows the true chronology, showing them meeting in Saint-Tropez when Dodi was engaged to another woman, the experts tell the podcast.
One detail said to be particularly true to life is the music, such as Diana and William singing along to Chumbawamba in the car, as their choice of music at the time was reported to be ‘more Radio 2 than Radio 1’.
In the coming series on Netflix, there is expected to be more controversial decisions about how events and people are portrayed, with the Royal Family said to be dreading the prospect.
The row over historical accuracy reached such a pitch in 2020 that then culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was planning to write to Netflix and request a ‘health warning’ at the start of each episode so viewers are aware it is a work of fiction.
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