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‘The Crown’ Could Have ‘Done Better’ Handling Princess Diana’s Death, Royal Expert Claims (Exclusive)

Netflix’s The Crown covered the death of Princess Diana in season 6, but there were some glaring errors for close royal watchers.

“I’m a great fan of The Crown, of course, but I have to say this was particularly disappointing,” royal expert Christopher Andersen exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, November 21, while discussing his 1998 book, The Day Diana Died. “There are so many dramatic moments that aren’t included. I mean, this is one of the things that television producers occasionally do. They create composite characters or they go off in a different direction. Here all they had to do to convey the drama of the moment and the impact it had on the world really was to just purport the facts, and that wasn’t done.”

The late Princess of Wales died in August 1997 at age 36 following a car crash in Paris. Her death was highlighted in the first half of The Crown season 6, which hit Netflix earlier this month.

Andersen revisited the “immediate aftermath” of Diana’s passing for The Day Diana Died. For the biography, he interviewed “the doctor who treated her in the tunnel” and “all the nurses who handled her” at the hospital, as well as friends of both Diana’s driver and then-partner Dodi Al-Fayed. (Al-Fayed and the couple’s chauffeur were also killed in the accident.)

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Due to his prior research on Diana’s death, Andersen was intrigued to see how The Crown would address the same topic but was ultimately unimpressed.

“I felt that it missed that kind of spark because on top of everything else, this is really a kind of a thriller, if you will, as an action-packed, fast-paced piece of history and that was not conveyed,” Andersen told Us. “I am sure that there was a feeling that no one wanted to dwell too much on the catastrophe itself to look as if they were capitalizing on the death of this woman and the gruesome aspects of the accident and whatnot. But I think they went too far in the other direction. So it just took all the spark in life out of what is quite a moving and dynamic story.”

The Crown Mishandled Princess Diana Death
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

According to Andersen, The Crown “could have done better” with its representation of the emotional “moment in history that really rocked the world.”

“Why not just portray what happened when [King] Charles saw Diana’s body [laying] in the hospital room for the first time? The entire nursing staff was there. He practically collapsed [and] he had to be held up,” Andersen added. “I mean, it was quite a dramatic moment. None of that is there [in the show]. I mean, Dr. Mailliez, who treated Diana in the tunnel, has an amazing story to tell about her last words. All of this was gone.”

The royal author further pointed out that while the series did attempt to “handle [the story] with great care,” it missed the mark on the biggest emotional reactions.

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“The actress [who played Diana] is amazing,” Andersen gushed of star Elizabeth Debicki. “I think it’s just eerily right on the money, spot on. Unfortunately, I’m looking at it from my perspective as somebody who knows exactly what happened in detail, and you can’t obviously cram that all into this first half of the season of The Crown.”

Andersen noted that he wished Prince William and Prince Harry’s reactions to walking behind Diana’s casket at her state funeral were shown on screen. William, now 41, and Harry, now 39, marched alongside father King Charles, now 75, and late grandfather Prince Philip in the procession. They were also joined by Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer.

The Crown Mishandled Princess Diana Death
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana on “The Crown” Charlotte Hadden/Netflix

“You just didn’t get the sense of drama and grief and pathos there,” Andersen said. “I was wondering if they’d have that one moment when Harry, as a little boy, turns to his father and says, ‘Are you sure mommy’s dead?’ Because he said that. I mean, that would’ve conveyed everything there. The tight world of the royals was acting as if nothing had even happened, and yet the rest of the world was in turmoil over her death.”

Andersen also lamented over Imelda Staunton’s onscreen portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September 2022.

“When the queen gave her speech, there was a huge push to make her face up to the fact that she had to address her people. She didn’t want to do these things. She was forced to do them by Charles and by [former prime minister] Tony Blair at the time,” Andersen pointed out. “So all the behind-the-scenes machinations, or at least they could have touched on that I think, but they chose to just have her stand on the balcony and give that speech with far less emotion than the queen actually did.”

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He continued: “I’m not a fan of the rest of the cast. I think [Imelda was] terribly miscast as queen. I think [the queen had] a much softer personality than this [version], who’s unrelenting.”

Andersen also theorized that The Crown attempted to put a “very Hallmark” spin on Diana’s romance with Al-Fayed, acknowledging that “we don’t know if he proposed” to Diana on their Paris trip.

“I think [what] they’re trying to do is [that] they’re so shell-shocked by criticism [of] what’s happened to other people who seem to have exploited the terrible accident that took Diana’s life,” he added. “But what they should really do is try and capture the drama, which isn’t [there].”

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi 

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