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As the early photos and casting news from season four of The Crown first revealed, Princess Diana will play a pivotal role in the latest season of the Netflix hit. That includes Lady Diana Spencer’s first meeting with young Prince Charles, their subsequent marriage, her rise to worldwide superstardom, and the fractures in the foundation of their relationship. The first decade of the duo’s relationship is thoroughly chronicled in the latest batch of episodes, out Nov. 15, which begins around the time Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) became prime minister.
But there’s one major milestone that audiences will not see on screen: Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding, which was famously broadcast around the world to an audience of around 750 million people. Instead, you’ll only see the events leading up to the big moment. According to star Emma Corrin, who plays young Lady Di, the reason for that exclusion is simple.
“We never re-create things just for the sake of re-creating them. I think if we do re-create a scene — like the engagement scene, for instance, when they do the announcement — it has to be because it’s linked to something that the characters are going through. It has to be part of the story. It has to further the plot, basically,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “The wedding scene, you can YouTube it and you could be watching it in 10 seconds so I don’t think there’d be any point in us re-creating it.”
Quipped Josh O’Connor, who debuted as young, wide-eyed, college-age Prince Charles in season three and now plays an older and much more hardened version of the heir, “That’s The Crown for you. That’s why The Crown is so good. Peter Morgan isn’t interested in showing you the wedding because, yeah, Emma’s right, you just go on YouTube and you can watch it. I think all the historical events are important for punctuating so that the audience know where we are,” he explained. “He’ll put in Thatcher’s election, and that’s literally just to tell the audience, ‘Right, this is where we are,’ rather than putting up on the screen ’20th of December 1981,’ or whatever. He basically signposts it using historical events. But what’s more interesting, because Charles and Diana have to be a certain way on their wedding day, you don’t see the nuance; whereas when it’s behind closed doors, [like] the rehearsal, we have more license to create and fictionalize.”
But the reason some other famous events in royal history aren’t included — like the complete lack of a storyline surrounding the real-life 1974 Princess Anne kidnapping attempt in season three, for example — is because everything in The Crown must directly relate to the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman).
“They don’t follow any plotlines that don’t directly link to the Crown, which is really interesting,” said Corrin. “I think there was some talk about them featuring Fergie more heavily than they do.”
Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson five years after Charles married Diana, but the wedding and the characters are only glossed over in the decade-spanning season.
Said Corrin, “I asked Peter about it and he said no, we can’t, because her storyline doesn’t impact the queen. Everything actually has to feed back to the queen. Even Diana’s plotline, it’s all about what she’s doing and the effect that that’s having on the queen. That’s why it’s called The Crown. It’s the same for why the James Hewitt relationship is alluded to, but I think they cut a lot of scenes with Hewitt because they didn’t want it to turn into the ‘Diana Show,’ I suppose. And so what does James Hewitt have to do with the queen? It’s very interesting, I think, how these things are thought about.”
While Corrin had the pressure of playing such a beloved icon on the award-winning series — she was relieved when she got the scripts because she was reminded that the show, ultimately, is fictional and really just “my interpretation of the character, which helped alleviate some of the stress,” she said — O’Connell didn’t necessarily feel as bothered about that. Plus, he already had a season to get used to the idea of playing such a famous figure.
“As far as I’m concerned, playing Charles, you can’t really get too bogged down in that,” he told THR. “It has to be a case of ultimately I’m telling the story of a man who, in my opinion, loves a woman, and it doesn’t work. They can’t be together. And then we watch the downfall of that. So the pressure of Charles/Diana, particularly the Diana story, I didn’t let bother me too much. It’s only helpful to a point, I think, and at some point you’ve got to let all that stuff go and just exist in the role.”
Audiences will, however, see some of Diana’s famous fashion choices — some were re-created exactly using vintage fabrics sourced from Paris and other places, some simply served as inspiration for the costume department. And while the series did not re-create Charles and Diana’s wedding, it certainly re-created Diana’s iconic wedding dress.
“It took so many fittings just to make it, which was an experience. I’m so bad at fittings. I think everyone hated me by the end,” Corrin joked. “But it was amazing to see the dress come to life around me. It was very magical and it kind of felt like Cinderella when they’re waving the wand and she’s being turned into this incredible princess. It was it was an amazing moment, and then to film it as well was very surreal.”
The Crown season four premieres Sunday, Nov. 15, on Netflix.
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