Host Edith Bowman discusses the first episode of the fourth season of The Netflix series The Crown, with four very special guests.
It’s 1979 and the Queen is intrigued by Margaret Thatcher's landslide victory to become Britain’s first female prime minister. Meanwhile, despite Lord Mountbatten’s encouragement, Prince Charles refuses to settle down, growing distant from the family. But when Mountbatten is assassinated by the IRA, Charles finally takes his great uncle’s advice and turns his attentions to the young Lady Diana Spencer.
In this episode Edith Bowman talks with writer and show runner Peter Morgan, The Crown’s Head of Research Annie Sulzberger and the actors behind Prince Charles and Prince Phillip: Josh O’Connor and Tobias Menzies.
The Crown: The Official Podcast is produced by Netflix and Somethin’ Else, in association with Left Bank Pictures.
Thatcher on election day
Into Queen and Phillip
Cue ‘Perhaps that’s precisely what this country needs’
Welcome to the Crown: The Official Podcast. I'm Edith Bowman and I’m very excited to be back with a new season of the podcast and of course, with the brand new season of the Netflix original series, The Crown.
This show will follow the fourth season of The Crown episode by episode, taking you behind the scenes, speaking with many of the talented people involved, and diving deep into the stories.
At the end of season three, we left Queen Elizabeth alone in her gilded carriage on the way to the Silver Jubilee in 1977. Her sister, Princess Margaret, had reached rock bottom and Elizabeth’s relationship with Prince Charles was fractured after the family came between him and the woman he loves.
Off screen since then, it’s been announced that the show will extend to season 6, and some of the new cast members have been announced. We’ll hear more about that later on in the series.
Onto season four and I know that you’ve been just as excited as me about what’s to come in this season, especially the introduction of one particular princess. But let’s get started: Season four, episode one, titled ‘Goldstick’.
It’s 1979 and Elizabeth is excited that Thatcher is swept into power with a landslide victory to become Britain’s first female prime minister. Meanwhile, despite Lord Mountbatten’s encouragement, Prince Charles refuses to settle down, growing distant from the family. But when Mountbatten, who’s ceremonial position is that of Goldstick in waiting, is assassinated by the IRA, Charles finally takes his great uncle’s advice and turns his attention to the young lady Diana Spencer.
We will cover specific events and scenes that feature in this episode, so if you haven’t watched episode one yet, I suggest you do it now. Or very soon.
Coming up later, we will hear from Josh O’Connor and Tobias Menzies, who play Prince Charles and Prince Phillip on the show.
Teaser Clip from Josh and Tobias
|Me and your dad just watched episode three and I could set an alarm, 15 minutes later. Did this happen?|
We will also hear from head of research Annie Sulzberger on Thatcher and why Mountbatten was a target for the IRA.
Teaser Clip from Annie Sulzberger
Why are her policies so divisive and why does she not back down?
There's something just fascinating about that. You know, politics general tends to be more consensus than, than what she represents and, and she comes in and shakes up this Tory party and kind of rips out the core values.
But first, I spoke with show creator and writer Peter Morgan at his home in London. I asked Peter where we find Queen Elizabeth at the start of season 4.
Package: Peter Morgan part 1
|Peter Morgan part 1|
|[03:26]||Where we pick up S4|
P: The funny thing, I mean, I know it should be about where she is, but actually I tend, in the great long sausage that is the crown, to chop it up into moments of time shaped by the politicians. And so in the sprawl of the second, half of the 20th century seasoned four spans Thatcher's reign from sort of 79 to 90. So we pick it up. With Margaret Thatcher, just winning the election, just becoming the prime minister.
Thatcher on election day
‘…we don’t count number 10 Downing street before it’s Thatched!’
|Peter on Thatcher|
E: Let's talk about Thatcher because she's a larger-than-life character, in history…
E: …and you know, she's introduced in this series and in this episode. What did you want to present in terms of your Thatcher? What was, who was the Thatcher that you wanted to, to present?
P: [04:36] All of our lives were slightly shaped by Thatcher, and she was somebody who aroused the most extraordinarily strong responses.
What is also fair to say is that, you know, she was clearly a brilliant politician, a formidable human being. I think when you look back on her, it's an extraordinary thing that happened. She was a bomb that went off in British post-war society. And she's such an interesting case because she did things that make her a feminist icon. And yet she had absolutely no time or regard for women in, in, in a professional way. So she, she was anything but a sister. And yet…the way in which she overcame boys' club patronizing sort of contempt, really, a great deal of her political challenges came from men within her own cabinet. Older men within her own cabinet who, who both were contemptuous of her gender and of her background and her ability to see them off makes her a feminist heroine, I think. And yet her attitude to women, you know. No sooner would she be a feminist heroine and then she would scuttle back to make sure she was ironing her husband's shirt, maybe bringing him breakfast in bed. And she was running a household in very modest circumstances above Downing street and…
You know, there were those two words, Mrs. Thatcher. And if you, if you went anywhere in the world, and I remember in 1982, I spent a lot of time in the middle East actually, or the near East. I was in Israel and in Palestine and Egypt, and Margaret Thatcher was those two words. She defined Englishness. She certainly, um, out shone the Queen in terms of instant celebrity on a global scale that represented Britain now, you know, Margaret Thatcher, the first - certainly in the UK - the first really, really dynamic woman prime minister.
So I suppose I've come at her not to do a revisionist take, not at all, but I try, I tried to make sure that my take had moved on a little bit from the take ahead of her as a…as a student.
|06:56||Peter on Gillian as Thatcher|
E: Gillian is just extraordinary as Thatcher. Is that, I mean, you know, in terms of casting Gillian as Thatcher, what point did you know she was, she was going to be her and that you wanted her to be her.
P: Because Gillian and I were together already, you know? I had had the idea a couple of years before this… I could see it quite quickly. The similarity, uh, not …(laughter)… it's impossible. That's not –
E: Ohhh not that’s no gonna be….
P: I mean, the blue eyes, the strength of character, the, you know…Gillian likes to work and she has a propulsive energy to her and she's fierce. And so I could see something, but I, you know, when actors are really, really good and when they've really successful, they don't need work.
[00:07:45] And so when I said to her, what do you think, do you think you could do it? I meant why don’t you have a think? Because the really good actors, they wouldn't agree to do something that they didn't know they could do. No one, the actor least of all, wants to come a cropper and look a fool and let the side down. And so, she thought about it for a couple of days. And she said, yeah, I think I can do it. And, and I knew then that no further conversation was necessary to persuade me. And it wasn't that I said, ‘Go on, Do it! Go on- Give us a Thatcher.
E: Give us your best Tatcher.
P: Go oonnn! (Laughter) No there was none of that. She just said it and I said, ‘Oh, okay, great.’
[00:08:26] And so then I thought, well, I'm not going to mention this to anybody else. Unless Nina Gold really, really endorse - our casting director - endorses it. I didn't want to impose this. This was just an idea I'd had. But Gillian would have been Nina's first choice too. And so once I had that as a go ahead, I felt very confident. So actually it was a remarkably uncomplicated thing.
E: I'm really looking forward to talking to her about the kind of journey to find in her Thatcher as well, You know, because I just think the subtleties as well and the voice and, and it's amazing how hair and makeup we really, and costume design we take for granted. But how important, particularly with The Crown, that it really brings so much to the character as well, and that hair and the height of it and all that. I just think it’s…
P: But she’s a- I mean, just from a technical point of view, the way that Gillian acts and the way that Olivia acts are about as different as you can get, and Olivia is unbelievably instinctive and is instant, right? So, so with Olivia, I say this as no disservice to Olivia because it's actually what she does. So she will, she will prepare for the first time in the taxi on the way to the shoot. Okay. She probably won't know where the scene comes in relation to anything else. She may even have forgotten what part she's playing and in makeup, something will happen. And then when she gets out there on set, she is more Word Perfect than anyone else and more instantly brilliant than anyone else. If you were condemned to have a one take movie, I would recommend you do it with Olivia Colman because she is perfect from the get-go.
[00:10.10] Now, if you, then, if that happens Tuesday and you run into her on a Wednesday, and you say, do you remember the scene we did yesterday? She'll go, she'll stare at you blank. Right?! So Olivia will…and there's a part of Olivia's brain that is entirely filled by what she's doing in the moment, entirely filled.
P: And then the minute it has gone and she has no further need for it, probably as soon as she gets into the taxi on the way back, it is drained gone, and it's never to reappear. Gillian is completely the opposite, right? So Gillian is the slowest cook. So Gillian will start preparing for something a year or two years in advance. You know, will just slowly start marinading. And then, as I've watched her do it on stage, for example, in a six-month run that she had in the West End, as the play progresses, she brings- she grows and brings more to it and brings more to it and brings more to it and brings some more to it. And, and, and she has an absolutely forensic recall of everything.
So for example, when you're in postproduction, Gillian will have thought about it and said ‘I remember my seventh take was weak. And so if you're using that, I'd like to do something better than that’. And somehow her voice. So when we've come to do ADR Gillian's voice as Thatcher, Months after we stopped filming is better than it was when we filmed.
And I think the difference in their performance brought an edge to their scenes together. And it was delightful always when, when there were scenes between Gillian and Olivia.
The Queen and Thatcher Meet for the first time.
Cue: ‘to business then’
We’ll come back to Peter Morgan to hear more about the characters in episode one later, but first let’s pay a visit to Annie Sulzberger, who is head of research on the Crown.
As you’ll know if you listened to the last season of this podcast, The Crown treads a fine line between fact and fiction. Yes, it is a dramatization, and we can’t possibly know what was really said behind closed doors, but the show is grounded in real people and events. The research team ensure that the details are as authentic as they can be. I asked Annie what was going on in UK politics as Thatcher came to power.
|Annie Sulzberger on context|
|[13:28]||Annie on Thatcher|
A: So it’s 1979, Britain is not doing particularly well. Jim Callahan is in power now. He's the labour leader who took over from Harold Wilson and he loses the election to the Tories.
There's a lot of unemployment and it's sort of general stagnation, I think, in Britain at the time. And people want to change. I think it's exactly what happens when, when one party stays in for too long and she had won the leadership contest in 1975 from Ted Heath. So she's now, you know, she's been four years as leader of the opposition and she is now the first female prime minister.
E: When you were working out how, how you would perceive Thatcher and how you, how she would be portrayed through the season, was that an interesting… voyage of discovery in a way, because everyone has an opinion about her.
A: Yeah. I mean, I think all of us probably came in with some sort of expectation of how she might be portrayed. The great thing about the casting of Gillian is she's an incredibly thoughtful actress. And so she came in not wanting to let any of her preconceived notions, distract her, I suppose, And so she did, I mean, very rigorous research that we, you know, helped her with when she needed it.
But, um, she really got into her head. And I think what you see in this series so many times with the queen is how much her biography, her childhood influenced the woman. And I think that's where we started. We really did try to grapple with how did she get here? And. Why are her policies so divisive? Why does she not back down?
There's something just fascinating about that. You know, politics in general tends to be more consensus than, than what she represents. And she comes in and shakes up this Tory party and kind of rips out the core values of the sort of patrician Tory party of, you know, we, we were born into privilege and we've had great educations and it's part of our jobs to take care of the common man.
And she just saw that as utterly patronizing. She was the only person in that room who had been common as a child. Her dad was a greengrocer and he left school at 13 but chose to kind of take every opportunity to advance himself. And what she really believes in is this idea of free market individualism. ‘I believe that instead of keeping everyone in their place, in their class’, which is sort of essential to the conservative party thinking that had come before her, which was like, everyone should be comfortable, which was like ‘ultimately please don't move around too much on the social hierarchy’. Her way of thinking was ‘the people who have the drive and the ambition should, should succeed.’
And in her mind that led to far greater social mobility because her father was a 13 year old uneducated boy. And yet he ended up being mayor of Grantham because he put in the work, you see that in how she approaches unemployment, and you see that in how she approaches the Dole.
E: She has no empathy.
A: Yeah. I mean, she, she lacks an understanding of the context as to how these falls from fortune can happen and quite, you know, kind of reductively, I suppose: It's heartless. That's how a lot of people see it and she sticks to her guns and her guns say ‘I'm not against people who are less well off or less educated I'm against how your sort of traditional ways of helping them out are not working, in my mind.’
Thatcher call with the Queen – war on the IRA
Cue: ‘ And without mercy, until that war is won.’
|[17:33]||Annie on IRA|
E: This episode is kind of, it's just rich with, with material and on the political side of things, it's very clear and set out immediately in terms of, of the kind of tensions that there are between the conflict and the growing kind of anti-Royal sentiment in Ireland. In terms of that, and trying to make sure that the, the balance is there and, and the facts are there really? Where do you start with something like that in the conflicts with Ireland?
A: There have been many occasions prior to 1979, when Mountbatten is assassinated where it's made clear that, that the Royals represent the British establishment and they are not really welcome. Even when Margaret's in New York all the way back in series three, there were actually anti-British monarchy protests by Irish descendants who were living in the States.
But what was really worthwhile about showing this moment, obviously it's a personal loss for the Royal family and it sparks Charles's decision to settle down, but it's a very clear way of trying to explain the sort of Northern Irish troubles because Mountbatten is so representative of the British military and the British establishment and the British monarchy.
That's why he was a target. And he'd been going to Classiebawn castle, which was actually his deceased wife's - Um, he's a widower now - her family estate in county Sligo is the Republic of Ireland. Not Northern Ireland. He'd been going there since 1960 after she died, family holiday in August, bring the whole family together generations as many as he can. And that was his sort of his annual tradition. He is killed by two members of the provisional IRA. It is intentionally an attack on the British establishment, and it is accompanied by an attack on Warren point, which is a military headquarters in Northern Ireland. There are 18 fatalities in total at Warren point, it's the biggest loss of life for the British army in a single day, since world war II.
And coupled with the personal attack on Mountbatten, which kills not only Mountbatten himself, but his, one of his grandsons, the local boy, Paul Maxwell, who tends the boat with Mountbatten. And it also kills in hospital later, his son-in-law's mother.
A: So there are additional casualties and Mountbatten is killed immediately. It's recently become public that years before his assassination, Mountbatten actually spoke to the Irish ambassador to the UK about helping to secure peace in Ireland, which he believed could be brought about through the reunification of Northern Ireland and the Republic. So while he was an obvious imperialist target to the IRA, he seems to possibly agreed with their ultimate goal.
So it's difficult to sum up the conflict the IRA in the conflict in Northern Ireland, it's a very sensitive issue. So bare bones. The IRA has been around for a very long time. It's been around since 1919. When the Irish war of independence, which is also known as the Anglo-Irish war, just like the revolutionary war in America is known by that name. And then it's, you know, the war ended in 1921 with a division of territory. Ireland, which is primarily Catholic is now a dominion of Britain. But it is not under direct British administration. You know, it will cut ties with the, the British Commonwealth in ‘49 and be very much its own thing.
Now the North, which is majority Protestant, so this is a religious issue will continue to be part of the United Kingdom. That's how we have it now. So the IRA, which is the Irish Republican army, is working to achieve a unified Ireland entirely free British rule. That's always what they've been trying to do.
However, the IRA that we see come out of the troubles, is not the original IRA. The old IRA is 1919, and it's guerrilla forces fighting in the British anti British uprising and playing a sort of heroic role in the Irish war of independence. And then there's the IRA versus the provisional IRA that we get to later. So in 1921, when the war ends and the partitions initiated between the North and the South, there's also a split in the IRA. One side accepts the partition as being sort of a practical compromise. And the other continues to be incredibly determined to unite Ireland, any cost and any costs that will become through acts of terrorism in most cases.
A: The provisional IRA that these two men were a part of are descendants of the kind of ‘anti-treaty’ IRA that have been driven underground in after 1922. So fundamentally Northern Ireland is dominated by Ulster unionist, Protestant majority, since that partition in 1921. And there's this sort of marginalization of the Republican Catholic minority. So the Ulster unionists are loyal to Britain and the Republicans to Ireland, and sectarian violence starts around 1966. So the troubles flints are a couple of years later and they run from about 68 to 98, when the good Friday agreement is signed.
The British army was originally called in, in 1969 to restore order and in large part to she protect the Catholic minority against loyalist violence. But. They quickly become very resented and they get caught in a cycle of violence, which worsens after Britain introduces internment without trial.
A: And then on bloody Sunday in ‘72, when the British army kills 13 unarmed civilians. So all of this background helps you understand a little bit why Mountbatten could have been such a symbol and such a useful target for the IRA.
Now that we’ve got some background, here’s Peter Morgan on centring episode one around the assassination of Lord Mountbatten.
|Peter Morgan Part 2 - On Mb And Charles|
|[00:23:21]||Peter on IRA|
P: There's never enough time to do all the things you want to do. And, and I definitely wanted to focus on the IRA. There's no version of Britain in the eighties, there's no version of that story that can be told without giving some time to the IRA. And of course, I've not been given nearly enough time, but it felt, it felt really good to have their voice.
P: ‘cause I wasn't gonna be able to dramatize individual characters. And so I decided to use it just as a voice and the bits I'm most excited about in the first episode is that voiceover the voice of Irish republicanism and, and it's anger at the British establishment.
Mountbatten Funeral, voice of IRA into Charles
Cue: ‘…where they would be.’
|25:06||Peter on MB and Charles|
E: The repercussions though that his death has on, on the entire family is, is quite extraordinary in terms of the conversations that it…kind of the transpires out of that, that kind of tragedy is interesting.
P: Well I made up in my head, whether it's right or wrong… what we know is that Mountbatten was really responsible for taking Charles to one side at precisely this point and saying, look, you know, enough already with playing the field. It's time you got married and it's time you provided an heir because it's easy now to look back and say, well, do you have plenty of time, he could have gone on forever, but you don't know that. Do you, you don't, you don't know that the Queens going to live as long as she does or has done. And as the heir, I think there was some concern, you know, that he should settle down, marry the appropriate person and get on with it.
And. It's just in my own head. I thought that that would have even greater impact on Charles if it were to come post-mortem, as it were. I think everything that's in the letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe, you know, based on everything I've read and people I've spoken to that that's us that represents his view.
We will never know if it was put into a letter. And we will never know if Charles got that letter before or after Mountbatten's death, but in this particular drama, this is how I decided to deal with it.
‘…who knows the rules and will follow the rules’
|27:08||Peter on Charles|
E: What a complicated character, Charles is.
P: Yeah. Yes, yes. And his father and the relationship between the two men; it is abrasive and complex and prickly and. And moving, you know, I love writing those characters.
E: He's this bachelor to start off with and he feels really distant from the family. You're kind of trying to work out whether that's his choice or whether he's just been kind of pushed away or whether he's running away in a way.
P: It’s both, I’m sure it’s both but it's certainly the pushed away part. And it's tempting because he has this sort of excessive sense sensitivity. It's tempting to think of him, and I think many people have, as quite soft and indulgent and whatever, but to come through what he's come through and pretty much prevailed…You know, he's quite a tough character. He's tougher than people think, I think.
Mountbatten’s death in this episode shakes the royal family, and especially brings out the fractures in Prince Charles and Prince Phillip’s relationship, which as Peter mentioned, has never been easy. I caught up with Josh O’Connor who plays Charles, and Tobias Menzies who plays Phillip, just before they finished filming this season…
|Package||Josh O’Connor and Tobias Menzies|
|28:25||Josh and Tobias on Charles and Phillip Relationship|
E: It's nice to bring father and son together for a therapy session. God, they could have done with one. You two need to sit down and talk about stuff.
T: Imagine that session.
J: Nothing would be said.
J: It would be silent
T: It would be a lot of silence.
E: There's a lot of brilliant moments with you too in season four where Charles is constantly been told by his dad, basically what he should be doing. And it's interesting ‘cause it feels like it's the closest relationship they've had, from what we've in terms of the way that the Crown has portrayed that relationship.
T: Yeah. It's been great. Yeah.
J: It has actually, yeah, we had this, I think that one sce-/particularly one big scene
T: /the one big scene.
T: It was quite early on wasn't wasn't it?
J: Quite early on, I remember reading those scripts, thinking the significance of Mountbatten dying is going to be huge for Charles before that particular scene was even written. And the moment of when you're like, ‘wait, you have a father’.
J: It's like... I think the significance of that…ultimately Peter can't focus on every aspect of these people's lives, but I do feel like that's such a huge aspect, and I'm glad to kind of explore a little bit.
E: That's definitely going to be a text from your mum asking if that actually happened, definitely.
J: I know, damnit!
E: Did you know that?
T: Does your Mum do that a lot?
J: Yeah, she’ll text me and go, ‘I'm watching…me and your dad just watched episode three.’ Or I could set an alarm 15 minutes later….’Did this happen?’
E: Do you get that?
T: No, no, I haven't. My family haven't massively talked about it. They've been encouraging about it, but there's no, there's not been a huge amount of detail to the point where I sort of go…Have they actually watched it? Have you guys actually…no, I'm sure you have. I love you, please. Don't listen to this.
E: Well, let's talk a little bit about that whole Mountbatten… because he's a kind of pivot between these two characters really, the father figure to both of them.
T: So yeah, episode one, we kick off this new season with the death, the assassination of Mountbatten and he obviously looms very large in different ways in both of our lives, Charles’s in Phillip's life. He's played this incredible father figure for these two men. Phillip in a way was quite fatherless for a lot of his childhood and, Mountbatten sort of stepped into that. But then that later on Charles becomes his project.
E: Cast aside.
T: And, um, you get a flash, hopefully in this scene that we've been talking about, where you see Phillips jealousy, really, that he's feels weirdly in competition with his own son, the parent / child Dynamic is almost the wrong way around, uh, in that scene. It's like, Charles is the, is the parent and Phillip is sort of weirdly childlike and kind of needy and angry and disenfranchised and that all pivots around Mountbatten who was a pretty complicated and powerful figure within the dynamic of that family did a lot of, kind of wrangling and kind of manipulating really, he’s like a powerful figure. So at the time of his death, Charles, in a strange way as the chosen one.
Charles and Phillip Mountbatten Talk
Cue ‘you have a father!’
E: It's really weird because the way that Peter's written both these characters, he writes them with a number of similarities, you know, the terms of that Philips, jealous of Charles, his relationship with Mountbatten, Charles grows jealous of Diana's relationship with the press. You know, they have these similar threads that as individuals Peter's woven into the script to show that, you know, father and son, actually are more similar than people might actually think or see.
T: And you could argue that sort of through, they both, in different ways have absentee fathers, you know, I haven't been very present for him and obviously I, in a more obvious way, there just wasn't someone around, but I was around and... I think we've missed each other and so Charles ends up feeling unfathered in a similar way.
J: Yeah. But there was a lot of discussion in that scene with Ben, before Mountbatten's funeral about how…
T: how strong or not you were.
J: Yeah whether Charles is piercing back or not.
J: There's something really, as a decision that Tobias made about how you're going to do the scene, which actually totally changed the, the, the power dynamics of the scene.
E: Oh tell us!
T: Um, basically I decided that he is, he had been drinking, so. He's like off-kilter and you don't see Phillip like that. He's not a drinker. He's quite, quite, abstemious really.
J: Held- and it meant that, whereas before it's like a fear, there's a fear factor. It feels like it's sort of fearful. And then by the end of scene, it's actually this weirdly grotesque figure, which meant that I was then able to go actually maybe Charles is the father to Phillip in this moment and that he can be more confident, more strong.
T: And as soon as we realized we were, in a way the roles were reversed, then the scene was kind of Oh yeah, that’s what he’s doing. He’s the father and I’m the son.
E: And so when do you, when is that decision made? Do you, are you talking about that whilst you're rehearsing the scene?
T: No, I just came in in the morning when we started, it was like, I think I should be a bit, a bit off, a bit off kilter, a bit drunk. Like I've been, I've been having some whiskies
E:- drawing your sorrow
T: drowning my sorrows.
Edith VO into Josh solo
|There is of course one thing that we haven’t really talked about yet – the beginning of hotly anticipated the Charles and Diana storyline. I asked Josh O’Connor about Charles’s path towards this moment.|
|35:06||Josh on Charles in S4|
J: Season three, you see the the lonely man and the isolated man, and what's been really cool to play now is safe in the knowledge that he's been wronged, that you feel you can kind of be a little nastier and a little bit kind of more selfish.
J: for me, it feels like it's a totally new character and, there's lots of, kind of nods to Phillip actually, and, seeing the kind of influence of his behaviour maybe. Particularly with Charles, it's been such an emotional up and down kind of journey. And particularly now the kind of strange thing about telling the Diana story, Charles and Diana stories, because we all know the end and how tragic a story it is, the moments of joy are as painful as the moments of sadness and that's been a real treat.
E: I cried reading the script.
J: Yeah, it’s pretty… I just, I mean, me too yeah
E: It’s so emotional and it's not just because we knew it and we, you know, you're probably too young to even sort of remember it. But I was like, I remember the Royal wedding. I was five.
E: You know, and it was the kind of fairytale thing. And I had the doll with a dress and everything, you know, and it's kind of through my lifetime, that tragedy unfolded. So you're reading that and you know, that. You know, the end and stuff, but it does not stop you investing in these people and what they both went through. And I think that's, what's been so brilliant in the way that Peter has written Charles and that he set up all these different things that have made him such this complicated character and troubled and constantly searching and longing for things as well.
J: Yeah. It perhaps would have been an easier kind of tell or an easier thing to write, to make Charles a kind of pantomime villain. And in some ways the media telling of it over the years has maybe been that. Peter's portrayal of that was so fresh and exciting to me. One of the things that I really loved when I was reading all the scripts, there's this moment that Camilla describes Diana as being the perfect princess, because she's, as soon as she's wronged, she's more powerful. She's like, she's the ultimate princess. She's the kind of fairy tale princess. And it is true that she. That I think Charles is, is he's been wronged many times and unable to live the life he wants to live. He's put into this situation, stumbles across somebody feels should be right and feels like this is the, this should be the right move. And this is the kind of dutiful move. And there's so much, we all know if you've followed the crown from the beginning that it's like, it's all about duty. And so I hope no one ever feels like Charles is in the wrong or Diana is in the wrong, but there's an understanding that here are two people who are both deeply lonely and can't help each other.
When you throw in the kind of public spotlight or when you throw in…I guess that the kind of the system of power and duty, those relationships are fraught and for Charles looking at his mother and knowing that he's, he's sort of second, she's the mother of an, of a nation and then she's the mother to her son.
E: He’s the second child.
J: Yeah and I think the kind of difficulty of Charles going well, if I'm going to be the father of a nation. Then how important is my happiness, is that secondary?
E: Oh that’s good…
J: And I think that that's what falls in into this kind of difficulty with Diana is that I think she understands that and he understands that.
Charles And Diana First Meet Part 1
Cue: ‘thank you sir’
|Package||Peter Morgan Part 3 - on Diana|
Peter, we've got to talk about the introduction of Diana, how unfortunately we all know how her story sadly ended, wanted to ask whether almost knowing the end point, how that influenced or did it influence how you wrote, how we see her and how we experience her?
P: Definitely. I think that every time you look at Diana and no matter how young, and don't forget in this first episode, you really get a sense of how young she was when she first met Charles, even then even looking at her as this little girl that there's sort of that pillar in Paris in that tunnel is already hovering, as it were, over her. And you look at her constantly in terms of the tragedy, you know, that's coming, it imbues every…every moment with her, no matter how throw-away or innocent or, or whatever, with a, with a horrible sense of foreboding really. Around the time that I wrote the queen, the movie people had originally asked me to write a story about the death of Diana. And I think by that, what they meant was, can you tell us a story about whether she was, or wasn't murdered or can you, can you just do the story of the end of her life? And I went away and talked to a couple of people and then thought I'd concentrate on the days after her death, because actually the days after her death effortlessly said something about the country and the impact that she made or hadn't made and, and the way in which society either claimed her as you know, it, it polarized people again.
And I thought, well, that's quite interesting. It seems to be a snapshot of a modern Britain and a Britain that not everyone will understand. And it…So I didn't write her. And I felt that she was unwrite-able. And so when it came to this part of history, I always thought, well, if the show does continue, how am I going to deal with it?
And then finally, and I don't know if it's just that enough time has passed. I thought to myself, it's okay to write her now. It's okay for me to have a go at this. And I think given the important place that she has in British cultural life, it's okay for a dramatist to go and explore that now, I think, and there was a time where I didn't think that, and I felt that I personally wouldn't want to do it. It would be too soon. And I wasn't sure that I could do it but now she's become interesting to me. And maybe it's because I think enough time has passed that you can think of her almost in metaphorical terms or symbolical terms or you can use her to tell a story, not just that it's her story, but also other stories.
E: Was it easy to decide how you’d introduce Diana
P: There's no evidence to suggest that that's what the conversation was. That was, that was an act of the imagination. But you know, there, there are bits that, you know, as always, there are some dots, which I ended up trying to join the dots that we knew, where Charles was dating her elder sister. He met her and promptly, went on an’ forgot her. She met him on that occasion and never forgot him. And so what I did was I thought. When her sister is out of the way for one second, Diana, who was, we know from accounts from all her sisters and everybody, she was called Dutch because she had a, a sense of entitlement about, she thought she was exceptional and she was going to have a better, good things were going to come to her. She had a very clear sense of that as a child, she enjoyed acting. And so I, all those things together and came up with this. It's just joining the dots. Really. I hope that the dots were close enough together that the act of imagination means it's truthful. Even if it's not, how can it be accurate? I have no idea how they, which room they met in or what they said, but I hope it's entirely truthful to what they both thought and what they both felt at the time.
Charles and Diana first meet – part 2
Cue…Thank you sir.
I'm Edith Bowman and my special thanks to our guests on this episode, Peter Morgan, Annie Sulzberger, Tobias Menzies and Josh O’Connor.
The Crown: The Official Podcast is produced by Netflix and Somethin Else, in association with Left Bank pictures.
Join us next time when we go behind the scenes of episode two of season four, called ‘The Balmoral Test’. Both Thatcher and Diana are invited to holiday with the royals at their Scottish retreat - but who will sink and who will swim in the eyes of the family?
Throw to ep 402
|The Thatchers arrive at Balmoral|
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