The Crown season six teased in Netflix trailer
I would consider myself a huge fan of The Crown. I loved the early seasons featuring Claire Foy in her award-winning performance of the young Queen Elizabeth II and Vanessa Kirby’s delicious portrayal of Princess Margaret (my favourite Royal Family member).
While I was always fully aware that there was an element of soapy drama, these early episodes still had a certain gravitas that helped elevate them above the usual frothy and weak attempts to document the lives of the Royals (I can never unsee all the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle movies or the abysmal film Diana, starring Naomi Watts). It has always felt that there was an element of truth to it.
Even as we got closer to the present day and Olivia Colman took over the role of Her Majesty, it felt like that balance was maintained. Episodes showing real-life tragedies such as the Aberfan disaster maintained respect for the tragic situation and the people involved.
So, it was quite a surprise to see that the new series takes the premise of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and turns it into some sort of ethereal romantic tragic-drama.
It opens when 36-year-old Diana is involved in the now infamous fatal crash in central Paris’ Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
While we don’t actually see the tragic collision, it is enough to leave you shocked before they rewind to eight weeks earlier.
We are then taken on the rollercoaster that was Diana and Dodi Fayed’s relationship, which I have to say I thought was far less of a whirlwind than a mere two months.
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Here lies the problem for me. While we can all appreciate that writer Peter Morgan was never privy to the innermost thoughts of the Royals, and therefore there was always some dramatic licence taken, you could usually trace anything that featured back to something based in fact.
However, in Diana and Dodi’s case, we are treated to many intimate moments that are, for all intents and purposes, complete and utter fiction.
Dodi’s father Mohamed al-Fayed is portrayed as a megalomaniacal pantomime villain as he manipulates his son into a relationship with Diana. Indeed, without giving any spoilers, The Crown manages to directly connect him to the fateful crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
There are scenes with Dodi and Diana that wouldn’t be out of place in a big-screen romantic drama – possibly starring Meg Ryan as Diana because… Hollywood.
While Elizabeth Debicki gives one of the best portrayals of Diana seen on screens (Kirsten Stewart take note), even she can’t save the cheesy dialogue and many, many cringeworthy scenes.
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The appearance of Diana to both Charles and The Queen and Dodi to his father from the beyond the grave isn’t the supernatural frightfest it has been portrayed as in some outlets.
However, it also feels shoehorned in and adds nothing to the show. If anything, it is completely cringe-worthy. While you get the feeling that Morgan’s heart was in the right place, the execution leaves a lot to be desired and it tonally feels very out of place with The Crown that we know and love (or knew and loved in my case!).
I did find the scenes where the young Princes Harry and William deal with their mother’s death extremely moving – partly due to brilliant performances from the two young actors, but also because I myself lost my mother at a young age and therefore can relate to it. But this alone isn’t enough to save the show.
It is telling that since season five, The Crown has featured a disclaimer calling it a “fictional dramatisation”. While we were always willing to accept an element of dramatic licence was taken, this series really ups the ante and not in a good way.
With part two still to come and the introduction of the Princess Of Wales Kate Middleton, there is a chance that the show can still redeem itself. Unless of course, Diana appears as a ghost to her also! Which would be a total death knell.
The Crown’s new series, part one, is available to watch on Netflix.
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