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Image / Living / Culture

Princess Diana’s friend cuts ties with ‘The Crown’ amid ongoing controversy


By Sarah Finnan
09th Nov 2021
Princess Diana’s friend cuts ties with ‘The Crown’ amid ongoing controversy

Tensions surrounding the upcoming fifth season of ‘The Crown’ continue to unfold with Princess Diana’s close friend Jemima Khan recently cutting all ties with the series as a result of the portrayal of the Princess.

It’s been a heavy news week in the royal world. When isn’t it, say you? Fair point, but things have certainly come to a head recently thanks to tensions caused by the always controversial upcoming season of The Crown and the just-released Diana biopic Spencer. 

Reportedly already having caused quite a bit of upset amongst the British royal family, it emerged a couple of weeks ago that Prince William isn’t so thrilled by what’s to come in new episodes of The Crown. According to reports, the Duke of Cambridge has been left feeling “deeply frustrated” by rumours that the fifth season will delve further into the infamous 1995 interview his mother gave to British journalist Martin Bashir. 

The interview

Not set to premiere until November of next year, the show is expected to dedicate an entire episode to the bombshell interview which saw the Princess of Wales admit that her marriage had been “a bit crowded”, what with three people being in it and all – her first public allusion to Prince Charles’ affair with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles. 

Always a topic of contention, the controversial interview was drawn into public discourse once again this year after The Dyson report published their findings. Criticising the means in which Bashir acquired the interview, the team forged bank records of Diana’s staff alleging that they were selling stories of her to the press. Left feeling alone and without anyone to trust, Princess Diana decided to do the interview as a result.

Both Prince William and Prince Harry publicly denounced the interview in light of the findings with the former saying that he doesn’t think the Panorama programme should ever be aired again. Later blaming the clip for being the catalyst behind their mother’s undoing, you can definitely understand why news that the show will revisit the moment might be a bit tetchy for the family. 

It’s not just William and Harry who have concerns though and more recently, Diana’s friend Jemima Khan – who served as a consultant on the show – has also cut ties with The Crown over their treatment of the princess’s final years. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Khan said that she was asked to come aboard to help co-write part of the fifth season. “In 2019, [series creator] Peter Morgan asked me to co-write on the fifth series of The Crown, particularly those episodes which concerned Princess Diana’s last years before she died,” Khan said. “After a great deal of thought, having never spoken publicly about any of this before, I decided to contribute.

“We worked together on the outline and scripts from September 2020 until February 2021,” Khan continued. “When our co-writing agreement was not honoured, and when I realised that particular storyline would not necessarily be told as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped, I requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a credit.”

Addressing the controversy in a statement to The Sunday Times, a spokesperson for the show commented, “Jemima Khan has been a friend, fan and a vocal public supporter of The Crown since season one. She has been part of a wide network of well-informed and varied sources who have provided extensive background information to our writers and research team, providing context for the drama that is The Crown. She has never been contracted as a writer on the series.”

Along with the controversial interview with Martin Bashir, season five is also believed to hone in on Diana’s romances with British-Pakistani surgeon Hasnat Khan and Egyptian film producer Dodi Al-Fayed. Filming for the series began in July with Dominic West taking over as Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki stepping up to the plate as the people’s princess. 

Speaking of The Crown though, new photos of Debicki filming for the upcoming season have emerged and we have to admit, she looks absolutely sensational. Spotted wearing a replica of the famous Christian Stambolian “revenge dress” that Diana donned the night Prince Charles’ tell-all documentary first aired on TV. in which he admitted to having an affair with Parker-Bowles for the first time. It’s rumoured that Diana opted for the dress to knock his statements off the following day’s front pages, which she did pretty successfully. Debicki as Diana looks scarily like the Princess of Wales and the images have done little to subdue our excitement for new episodes. 

Some royal experts have since suggested that the Duke of Sussex should terminate his own contract with Netflix in light of Khan’s decision. Currently with a $150 million deal with the streaming giant, many have somehow attributed his decision to work with Netflix as disregard for his mother’s memory… which seems completely out of left field, if you ask us. Proving himself to be a fierce defender of his mother’s legacy on more than one occasion, his ties to Netflix don’t automatically mean that he’s in any way involved in The Crown, its production or what ultimately gets included in the show. 

As for the movie Spencer, producers have described it as largely fable but there is one particular scene that has ruffled some feathers and not for being based on falsities either. Highlighting how royal life is still deeply rooted in many outdated and frankly very problematic traditions, the scene in question shows Kristen Stewart’s Diana reacting to a request to weigh herself.

Just having arrived at Sandringham Estate for Christmas, the princess is asked to denote her weight on arrival and will have to do the same when leaving too, with Diana later mentioning that attendees are expected to gain at least three pounds during their stay (it’s unknown whether this specific figure is based on actual fact). 

Of all aspects of the movie, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking that this particular addition was false but talk of the bizarre royal tradition has actually been circulating for years. A 2018 Grazia article claims that it dates all the way back to King Edward VII who “wanted to ensure that his guests ate well”. The sentiment is nice, but expecting those joining you to adhere to a public weigh-in before and after eating is much less so. King Edward VII’s reign ended in 1910 by the way…