‘Crude, cruel and totally insensitive’: Outraged critics round on The Crown’s callous depiction of Princess Diana’s 1997 funeral – in scenes certain to cause distress to the Royal Family
His head bowed in unspeakable grief, Prince William walks alongside the Duke of Edinburgh in the procession of mourners behind the coffin of his mother.
This is Netflix’s ghoulish staging of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, in scenes that are certain to cause distress to the Royal Family.
In a callous recreation of the heartbreaking events, the Royal Standard is draped over the coffin on the gun carriage – just as it was in real life – while actors dressed in the ceremonial uniform of the Welsh Guards march alongside.
Amid continuing outrage over the show’s disregard for historical truth, the macabre scenes revealed in our exclusive pictures are set to plunge Netflix into new controversy over The Crown.
This is Netflix’s ghoulish staging of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, in scenes that are certain to cause distress to the Royal Family
The scene depicting a grief-stricken William and Prince Harry – then aged 15 and 12 – was filmed in secrecy at a disused RAF base and is due to be broadcast in season six next year.
To the further horror of Diana’s family and friends, The Crown’s production team will be in Paris next week to recreate her final hours, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Last night those close to the Royal Family lambasted the Netflix series as ‘crude, cruel and totally insensitive, particularly in light of the Queen’s recent death’.
William Shawcross, the Queen Mother’s official biographer, said: ‘Nothing is sacred to [the writer of The Crown] Peter Morgan. He has made his republican sentiments and his contempt for our late Queen very clear.
‘This is a vile series which lies to the public and has been incredibly hurtful to the Royal Family from the Queen and our new King down. Unlike any other family, they cannot sue.’
It is most unlikely that Morgan and his colleagues on The Crown will have failed to understand the sensitivities around recreating the day William and Harry had to say goodbye to their beloved mother, who died aged 36.
Both Princes have spoken publicly of their anguish at having to follow the coffin for its final mile along the Mall, through Horse Guards Parade, along Whitehall to Parliament Square and on to Westminster Abbey.
The family pictured at Diana’s 1997 funeral. Netflix’s scene depicting a grief-stricken William and Prince Harry – then aged 15 and 12 – was filmed in secrecy at a disused RAF base and is due to be broadcast in season six next year
The Duke of Sussex has been notably outspoken, telling biographer Angela Levin: ‘My mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television.
‘I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today. No child should lose their mother at such a young age and then have his grief observed by thousands of people.’
Ms Levin said of The Crown’s decision to recreate the funeral procession: ‘It’s inhuman, beyond any sense of decency and hurtful.
‘When I first went to interview Harry, he asked if I had seen The Crown, which at the time was on Series 2. I said no and he said: ‘Oh you must watch it. My only problem is they’ve got to stop before they get to me.’
However, Prince Harry, who has a deal with Netflix for a docu-series, defended the Crown in an interview with James Cordon last year, saying that it was ‘obviously fiction’.
To the further horror of Diana’s family and friends, The Crown’s production team will be in Paris next week to recreate her final hours, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
Speaking in 2017, the Prince of Wales said: ‘It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – that walk. It felt like she was almost walking along beside us to get us through it.’
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer revealed he told courtiers she would not have wanted her sons to go through this experience.
He said: ‘I had been a passionate advocate for William and Harry not to have to walk behind their mother’s body. I thought it was a bizarre and cruel thing for them to be asked to do.
‘I was liaising with some courtier at Buckingham Palace and he mentioned it and I went, well of course not and he said, ‘Well, it’s been decided.’
This perhaps explains why Netflix decided not to film the scenes in Central London but instead at a disused RAF base five miles outside Bicester, Oxfordshire.
Last Wednesday, little-known actors Rufus Kampa and Will Powell, who portray William and Harry, Dominic West as King Charles and Jonathan Pryce as the late Duke of Edinburgh travelled to nearby Upper Heyford, where they were joined by hundreds of extras.
The show’s producers made the rare decision to shoot with a green screen that allows production experts to drop what they have filmed on to a background of their choice later. Few of the drama’s storylines have used the technology and a source close to The Crown said the decision was made due to the sensitivities of the scenes.
Pictures show the Funeral Procession for Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales, filmed for the hit Netflix series The Crown in Oxfordshire
‘As well as it being impossible to have filmed these scenes in secret if it was done in the middle of London, it was also decided that it would be wholly inappropriate,’ the source said.
‘They were in and out of the airbase in a day and the scenes will form part of the funeral, which will span across an episode.’
The upset is likely to continue for the Princes as Netflix crews travel to Paris this week.
They will shoot scenes of Diana’s final days, spent in the French capital with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. While it is understood that the crash in which they died won’t be recreated, scenes of them leaving the Ritz hotel together will be.
Meanwhile, Prince William is also said to be furious the Netflix series – due to begin next month – will fictionalise his mother’s BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, which was obtained through ‘deceit’.
Then Duke of Cambridge, he recorded a rare statement in which he said the way in which the interview was obtained meant it ‘holds no legitimacy’ and ‘should never be aired again’.
He added: ‘It effectively established a false narrative which… has been commercialised by the BBC and others.’
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