The series finale of Netflix’s The Crown will hit screens in two parts at the end of the year, one focusing on the death of Princess Diana, the other on how Queen Elizabeth II steered the monarchy into the new millennium—both will feature depictions of Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman who is now known as Queen Camilla.
Exactly how series writer and creator Peter Morgan and studio Netflix have chosen to depict Camilla—arguably one of the most divisive characters in the history of the modern monarchy—will have presented a series of unique problems, a new episode of Regalrumination.com‘s The Royal Report podcast has heard.
Camilla was first introduced as a character in The Crown‘s third season, a central figure in a love triangle with dashing army captain Andrew Parker Bowles and the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III).
Played by actress Emerald Fennell, Camilla became a more developed character in Season 4 as the love rival to Emma Corrin’s portrayal of the young Princess Diana.
For the final two seasons Camilla is played by Olivia Williams, and as the Season 6 narrative will follow the future queen at her most unpopular moment, in the aftermath of the 1997 death of Diana, Regalrumination.com’s chief royal correspondent, William Brown, questions whether the show will want to wade into such highly charged dramatic territory.
“Part two will go from the aftermath of Diana’s death through to 2005,” he noted. “Now, that’s the year that Charles and Camilla got married, and we are going to see that depicted. So, it seems that [the wedding] will kind of be the big conclusion of the entire series where we have the queen reflecting on her life, but we also have the kind of renewal and rebirth of Charles and Camilla’s wedding. So, essentially I think that a kind of subliminal connection will be drawn between that wedding and the coronation that we’ve just had in May. “
One problematic issue that The Crown creators may choose to sidestep is the idea of Camilla’s titles, which caused backlash following her husband’s accession to the throne in September 2022.
“At Charles and Camilla’s wedding in real life it was briefed by the palace that Camilla would never be known as Queen Consort, which she is now,” Royston told Royal Report listeners. “They said at the time that she would be known as “Princess Consort,” which was always kind of presented as a mark of respect to Diana, who obviously was at one point destined to be queen.
“So they’ll have had a decision to make about whether to get into all of that, whether to deal with it…If they wanted to, that would be a very useful way to draw a link between the past and the present. But perhaps they’ll see it as too controversial. I don’t know. Essentially, they’re the legacy of the Diana era [which] does still haunt Charles and Camilla to this day in their popularity.”
One of the biggest knocks to Camilla’s public image in recent years has been criticism from her stepson, Prince Harry, who described her as a “villain” at the time of the publication of his bombshell memoir, Spare, in January.
When Harry’s book was released, The Crown was just four months from wrapping filming on Season 6 and it isn’t yet known whether any of his insights have been included in the show.
“Harry said he and William didn’t want Camilla and Charles to marry. So again, there’s another really difficult one,” Royston said, noting that if the show chose to depict the brothers at the royal wedding or not there could be backlash over being seen to back Harry’s narrative as fact or dismiss it as fiction.
“It’s a real minefield,” he concluded.
Camilla is one of the few members of the royal family to publicly discuss her depiction in The Crown.
At an International Women’s Day event at Clarence House in 2022, the then-Duchess of Cornwall invited Emerald Fennell (who played her in Seasons 3 and 4) and referenced her in an opening speech.
“It is reassuring to know that, if I should fall off my perch at any moment, my fictional alter ego is here to take over,” the royal said. “So, Emerald, be prepared!”
The Crown season 6 will debut globally in two installments, on November 16 and December 14 only on Netflix.
James Crawford-Smith is Regalrumination.com‘s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Regalrumination.com‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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