‘The Crown’ Scolded By Queen’s Ex-Press Secretary For “Dramatic License Gone Bonkers” Over Diana’s Death

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EXCLUSIVE: The Crown has been criticized by the Queen’s former press secretary for lacking sensitivity in its portrayal of the events surrounding Princess Diana‘s death.

Dickie Arbiter, who worked for Queen Elizabeth II during the period depicted in Season 6, accused The Crown’s creator Peter Morgan of “dramatic license gone bonkers.”

Arbiter was particularly critical of scenes in which Prince Charles (Dominic West) breaks the news of Diana’s death to her sons, Princes William and Harry. Diana is played by Elizabeth Debicki in the final season.

“The sequence of Charles telling his sons of their mother’s death was so insensitive, it was so unnecessary,” he told Deadline. “The death of their mother is still raw with both of them.”

He added: “The scenes between Charles and his mother, in which he blurted out that she wanted Diana to come back in a Harrod’s van were absolute nonsense. It just didn’t happen like that. Of course an aircraft was going to be made available [to bring her body home from France]. The Queen was the first one to agree to that.”

Arbiter also debunked scenes involving preparations for Diana’s funeral. He recalled that it was Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, rather than Queen who decided that she should have a public ceremony overseen by Buckingham Palace.

“I was in charge and media arrangements for that week,” he said. “Spencer thought that because Diana was a public figure, because she was very popular and people adored her, that it should be something handled by the royal family to make it a public event rather than a private family event.”

Arbiter said Prince William did not disappear for 14 hours at Balmoral Castle after learning of his mother’s death, though he admitted that William and Harry did go for walks as they wrestled with grief.

The former press secretary, who was depicted briefly in Season 4 of The Crown by David Phelan, added that the scenes involving Diana’s so-called “ghost” were “desperation.”

The Crown producers said earlier this year that they approached the events of Diana’s death with care, but admitted that the audience would make up its own mind about how it was handled.

Executive producer Suzanne Mackie said: “The show might be big and noisy, but we’re not. We’re thoughtful people and we’re sensitive people. There were very careful, long conversations about how we were going to do it.”

Morgan, who has penned every episode The Crown, has never claimed that the Netflix series is an unflinchingly faithful portrayal of history. He has acknowledged that his writing infuses “acts of imagination” with real-life events.

Arbiter, who has been critical of The Crown in the past, said global audiences “believe every word of it” and that Netflix should apply a disclaimer to the series to make clear that it is heavily embellished.

“I don’t think it’s damaged the royals,” he explained. “What it has done is people get a sort of jaundiced view of what the characters were actually like.”

Netflix declined to comment.

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