For days now, royal commentators have been blanketing the British and American media to cry about The Crown’s Season 4. Now, suddenly, the show is complete trash and it’s full of lies. Don’t get me wrong, many of these people did point out the historical inaccuracies of the first three seasons, but they all enjoyed the renewed interest in the Windsors too, and there was a tacit agreement that The Crown was good for business. I would argue that The Crown is still good for the royal-commentator business, because Clarence House (Prince Charles’ court) is pushing all of these commentators and historians to run around and do damage control. Richard Kay at the Daily Mail is the latest.
Kay nipicks the inaccuracies while never admitting that Peter Morgan got many of the broad strokes correct, like Charles’ pre-Diana affair with Camilla was raising eyebrows within his family, and that Lord Mountbatten likely did say something to him about dropping Camilla and getting married. Did Dickie do that through a letter? Probably not, but it’s a good narrative device. Which brings Kay to the reason why he wrote this damn thing: to state that Charles and Camilla didn’t touch each other for five years during his marriage to Diana. We heard that before from another royal commentator. Almost as if it was a talking point issued by Clarence House.
It seems to matter to The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan, who has said that the team does its ‘very, very best to get it right’, while also admitting that he has had to ‘conflate’ incidents. Tellingly, he added: ‘Sometimes you have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.’
[In The Crown]. The Prince receives the letter in the days after Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA in August 1979. There is no record of any such letter being written. Too late: it is to set the scene for the episodes to come. Scarcely a moment goes by in which the Prince is not confiding in Camilla or longing to be in her arms. Their affair is portrayed as not just transcending the romance and engagement to Lady Diana, but as continuing throughout the marriage.
In fact, Prince Charles had virtually no contact with Camilla for the first five years of his marriage to Diana, apart from formal encounters, and allowing for the Prince’s role as godfather to her son Tom. According to biographers, physical contact between the two did not resume until 1986, by which time the royal marriage had, as the Prince himself famously put it in a TV documentary, ‘irretrievably broken down’.
But the idea that he was betraying his marriage vows from the word go is just too tempting for The Crown’s storyline. It helpfully allows for frankly gratuitous shots of Diana in the throes of bulimia, with her head almost permanently stuck down the lavatory. Some will say that this does reflect a version of the royal marriage — the one Diana herself set out in Andrew Morton’s biography. But even she did not suggest that the marriage was without happiness.
The birth of their sons — especially of Prince Harry — was a time of great joy, when she felt she and Charles were especially close. None of this is reflected in The Crown. Instead we get a one-sided version of the collapsing marriage, with Diana on the receiving end of her husband’s foam-flecked rage. They rowed, of course, but what is omitted is any sense of Diana’s behaviour, including tantrums and insecurities. It does, however, mention her affair with Army officer James Hewitt.
I’ve said this in a few posts already and I’ll continue to say it: these people are gaslighting a dead woman, just like they tried to gaslight her when Diana was alive. The only evidence that we have that Charles and Camilla only renewed their physical affair five years into his marriage is that it’s Charles’ version of events. Even if you’re willing to believe Charles on that (I am not), he NEVER stopped conducting an emotional affair with Camilla. Charles and Camilla were still seeing each other and sleeping with each other throughout his courtship with Diana. They still confided in each other and wrote to each other. His heart still belonged to Camilla the entire time. Diana knew that. And it destroyed her.
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