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Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Crown Season 6, Part I.
Before the first part of season 6’s The Crown was released on Netflix, there was one major plot point that was already making headlines: Princess Diana‘s alleged “ghost” would make an appearance following her death. And, as many fans of the show can attest to, Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana did in fact come back to life for two brief scenes with King Charles III (Dominic West) and Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton).
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In the first scene, Charles is seen on a plane from Paris to U.K. after visiting Diana’s body in the morgue and breaking down in tears. “Paris, one of the busiest cities in the world and you brought it to a standstill,” Charles tells Diana’s spirit. “Ta-da,” she replies.
“You were always the most beloved of all of us,” he tells her.
“Thank you for how you were at the hospital,” she then replies. “So raw, broken… and handsome. I’ll take that with me,” she adds, before the softly smile at one another. “You know I loved you so much, so deeply, but so painfully too. It’s over now. It’ll be easier for everyone with me gone. Admit it. You’ve had that thought already.”
“The only thought I’ve had since the moment I heard is regret,” Charles said, breaking down in tears again. “That will pass,” she replies. “No it won’t.”
Of course, the show’s writers could reasonably argue that this is what Charles might selfishly imagine Diana would say to him and not what they actually think the deceased princess would do. In fact, one of the show’s creators, Peter Morgan, told Variety something similar in October.
“I never imagined it as Diana’s ‘ghost’ in the traditional sense,” Morgan said. “It was her continuing to live vividly in the minds of those she has left behind. Diana was unique, and I suppose that’s what inspired me to find a unique way of representing her. She deserved special treatment narratively.”
However, that hasn’t quietened the backlash. And for a show that is already struggling to walk a fine line between history and historical fiction, perhaps the handling of Diana’s death should have steered clear of creative reinterpretations.
As for the scene with the late monarch, Diana and the Queen are seen chatting as the Queen watches the news of the grieving public. “I hope you’re happy now,” the Queen says. “You’ve finally succeeded in turning me and this house upside down.”
“That was never my intention,” Diana then softly replies, to which the Queen scoffs. “Look at what you’ve started. It’s nothing less than a revolution,” says the sovereign. “It didn’t need to be,” Diana then refutes. “But by making an enemy of me, not of me personally but of what I stand for, then it starts to look like one. They’re trying to show you who they are, what they feel, what they need. I know that must be terrifying, but it needn’t be. For as long as anyone can remember, you’ve taught us what it means to be British. Maybe it’s time to show you’re ready to learn too.”
And while these two scenes are emotional and heartbreaking by themselves, they have been criticized since the beginning. For the royal family, it seems like their major issue is the idea that Diana would come back to life and make peace in the first place. After all, her young sons were never given that luxury.
According to one source for the Daily Mail, Prince William, who was only 15 when his mother passed, was “totally sickened” by the idea when he first heard of the scenes, saying it would be “incredibly hurtful” to “have his mother exploited over and over again in this tawdry fashion.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 16, 2023
And though our hearts go out to Diana’s family for having to relive such a complicated time, we’ll admit that our, and the public’s, greatest problem with Diana’s so-called “ghost” isn’t her existence, but what she says instead. “The Crown portraying Princess Diana as a ghost to comfort Charles after her death is a questionable decision like… are we gonna forget how that man treated her???” wrote one user on X (formerly known as Twitter). “What is this Charles propaganda??”
“[I] don’t know how I feel about Princess Diana’s ghost calling Prince Charles handsome in The Crown,” echoed another user. “I like to think she would’ve been haunting him instead.” “Did [Charles help write this season or what,” questioned another user. “what is THIS?????”
In other words, it feels far-fetched to us to even assume that Diana, Charles’ longtime wife whom he cheated on for years would ever come back to give him solace and closure. The same goes to the Queen, who never stood by Diana, especially after their divorce. And though we know these conversations never occurred in the first place, it’s safe to say The Crown‘s direction on this feels quite misguided. After all, if Diana could talk to anyone following her death, and give any two people closure, it would undoubtedly be her two sons.
Before you go, click here to revisit more movies about Princess Diana.
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