Netflix has unveiled the initial quartet of episodes from the ultimate season of “The Crown,” offering a dramatic portrayal of the late 1990s, including Princess Diana’s association with Dodi Fayed. The series delves into the events leading up to Diana’s untimely demise in 1997 and the ensuing aftermath, yet it has faced criticism for alleged historical inaccuracies.
Royal historian Kelly Swaby, expressing her concerns, lamented to the BBC that, as a historian, the show at times makes her want to cry. The expectation for accuracy is heightened by the high production quality, but it doesn’t consistently meet those standards. Netflix has clarified that the series has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.
This final season, penned once again by Peter Morgan, creator of the highly popular show running since 2016, is divided into two parts. The first installment of four episodes premiered on Netflix at 0800 GMT on Thursday, with the remaining six slated for release on December 14.
The narrative unfolds with Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince Charles (Dominic West) experiencing their inaugural summer apart as divorced parents, navigating the complexities with their sons, Prince William (Rufus Kampa), and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards). While Diana enjoys a holiday on a yacht owned by Dodi Fayed’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed (Salim Daw), in the south of France, Prince Charles retreats to Balmoral.
Subsequent episodes explore the media frenzy surrounding Diana and Dodi’s (Khalid Abdalla) relationship, culminating in the tragic paparazzi chase leading to a fatal car crash in a Parisian tunnel on August 31, 1997, claiming both their lives. The series promises to depict the immediate aftermath of the accident, including reactions from the Queen and Mohamed Al Fayed.
Producers have indicated that the storyline will include Prince William attempting to reintegrate into life at Eton following his mother’s death. The sensitive portrayal of Diana’s death was emphasized by producers during the Edinburgh TV Festival, assuring viewers that the subject has been treated with care.
Imelda Staunton reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth II, joined by Jonathan Pryce returning as the Duke of Edinburgh. The latter half of the final season, releasing in December, will cover significant events such as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Prince Charles and Camilla’s wedding, and the courtship of William and Kate, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, during their time at the University of St Andrews.
Swaby acknowledges that “The Crown” incorporates artistic license in depicting sensitive events, especially those where private details remain unknown. The challenge of portraying real-life figures, many of whom are still alive, requires careful navigation, particularly concerning the portrayal of events surrounding Diana’s death, impacting her sons, Princes William and Harry.
In the second half of the season, Princes William and Harry will be portrayed by Ed McVey and Luther Ford, respectively, and Kate Middleton will be played by Meg Bellamy. This marks the first major role for all three young actors.