The Crown’s New Season May Feature These Morbid Princess Diana Scenes
The Crown has already fielded questions about how it will handle Princess Diana’s death when the Netflix period drama reaches August 1997 in its timeline. Just two months ago, Netflix clarified that the Peter Morgan–created series will not recreate “the exact moment of the crash impact” in Paris that led to the princess’s fatal injuries. But a new report suggests that scenes following Princess Diana’s death might prove just as haunting.
Speaking about actor Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Princess Diana in the fifth and sixth seasons of The Crown, a source told The Sun that production “actually made Elizabeth climb into a coffin and play dead as Diana. Viewers will see a French priest administering the last rites for Diana as she is pronounced deceased.”
A source, who claims to have witnessed the filming of the scene and others, also says medics will be shown attempting to save Diana after the crash. According to one person, Prince Charles (Dominic West) has a scene with the late royal where he cries over Diana’s open coffin and notices that one of her earrings is missing. Another scene allegedly depicts Diana’s two sisters, also in tears, joining Charles around their late family member.
A source for Netflix has previously said that scenes dramatizing Diana’s death will be done with “utmost respect and care.” VF has reached out to Netflix for comment.
This October, a production source on The Crown told Deadline that some crew members were feeling “a certain anxiety; a palpable sense of being slightly on edge” as they approached the filming of scenes depicting the events directly before and after Diana’s death: “I mean, there’s bombshell sensitivity surrounding this one.” The source added that scenes will depict “the run-up” to the tragic car crash, including the vehicle “leaving The Ritz after midnight with paparazzi in pursuit and then the aftermath with the British Ambassador to France swinging into action with the Foreign Office and then the subsequent constitutional aftermath.”
The Crown’s recent fifth season closed with Princess Diana receiving an invitation from Mohamed Al Fayed (Salim Daw) to vacation with her sons, William and Harry, in St.-Tropez in July 1997—just a month before Diana would die in a car crash that also killed Al Fayed’s son Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul. It is expected that The Crown’s sixth and final season will chronicle the British royal family until the early aughts.
In an interview this week with Vanity Fair’s Little Gold Men podcast, which will stream after Christmas, Debicki said that she recently finished filming scenes as Diana before The Crown’s holiday break. “I tried to say a speech to the crew and mind you, it had been quite emotional scene [that we just filmed]. All these lovely men and women standing there, and I sort of went, I’m not gonna cry, but I just want to say thank you. I just deeply embarrassed myself but I do love them…it is an extraordinary character to play and it’s an extraordinary space to occupy.”
Speaking about eventually leaving the role of Diana, Debicki said, “It makes me really sad, the idea of it. I’ve definitely played roles where, at the end of it, you think—because the role was very demanding or in a really dark place—you think I’m ready now to just shut the door to this. This is very different. I have such a love and respect for this character.”
In a separate interview with Dominic West that will stream in the same episode after Christmas, the actor teased that his character will suffer a fallout with son William in part because of the fatal accident.
“Peter is bringing out the anger I think that William has for his father and against the world really because of what happened to his mother,” said the actor. “It’s not easy for Charles with his sons.”
Before the fifth season of The Crown aired in November, there was similar outrage over depicting story lines involving “Tampongate” and Prince Philip’s relationship with Penelope Knatchbull.
Speaking about the reaction, Debicki told Vanity Fair, “I think it took us by some surprise because we have this understanding that what we are doing is clearly a drama that is an interpretation of historical events.” Referencing Peter Morgan’s writing of the series, she added, “[He] hang[s] the drama on these pegs of reality. Peter’s imagining conversations that we never get to hear…[But] the different points of view made sense to me and it’s obviously a different stage of The Crown’s retelling of history, which is very alive in people’s memories and they [feel] a lot of ownership over it. So I understand why it sprung up that way.”