The Crown: The Official Podcast

Episode 10: Decommissioned

Episode Summary

Host Edith Bowman discusses the finale of the fifth season of The Netflix series The Crown, with very special guests. 

Episode Notes

In the run up to the general election of 1997, New Labour - under the leadership of Tony Blair - are way ahead in the polls. But Blair's modernising ideas include getting rid of the Royal Yacht, Britannia - a vessel very close to the Queen's heart. When Blair wins with a landslide, it becomes clear Britannia is to be decommissioned which devastates the Queen but Charles sees an opportunity to align himself with the new PM and start to forge a future with Camilla by his side. What none of them sees is the threat hurtling towards them all when Diana accepts Mohamed Al Fayed's offer to join him and his family on a summer holiday in St Tropez.

In the final episode of this season, Edith Bowman reunites with Writer Peter Morgan, Head of Research Annie Sulzberger, Director Alex Gabassi and the actor behind Princess Diana, Elizabeth Debicki. 

The Crown: The Official Podcast is produced by Netflix and Somethin’ Else, in association with Left Bank Pictures.  

Host: Edith Bowman 

Guests: Peter Morgan, Annie Sulzberger, Alex Gabassi, Elizabeth Debicki. 

Episode Transcription


Prince Charles: Is the Royal Family value for money? More than half said no.

Can you name three useful things the Royals do? 83% couldn't. 

Do you want a referendum to decide the future of the monarchy? 70% said yes. 

Prince Edward: Does anyone want King Charles III? 

Prince Andrew: 100% said no. 

Queen Mother: Oh shame, you naughty boys.


Edith Bowman: Welcome to 'The Crown: The Official Podcast'.  

I’m Edith Bowman, and this is the show that follows the fifth season of the Netflix series, ‘The Crown’ episode by episode. We'll be taking you behind the scenes, speaking to many of the talented people involved and diving deep into the stories. 


Edith Bowman: This time we'll focus on the final episode of this season, episode 10, titled ‘Decommissioned.’

The relevance of the monarchy is questioned by the public, and change is afoot. But can a new government help Prince Charles push forward his vision for the monarchy? Or is it at odds with the Queen once again?

1:28 Edith Bowman: Coming up on the podcast, Elizabeth Debicki joins us to look back at her favourite moments during filming.


Elizabeth Debicki: And I was like, ‘Okay, guys, when the massive helicopter that you've never seen before, a helicopter, is about 10 metres away from your head, don't look. Even though you feel like you're about to die, don't look at it, okay guys?’



Edith Bowman: Head of Research for ‘The Crown’ Annie Sulzberger joins me to tell us whether Diana really voted in the TV debate about the monarchy.


Edith Bowman:  What?!

Annie Sulzberger: And that would actually lead to a lot of questions about the vote because they're like, If you can keep calling in, then doesn’t that feel a wee bit rigged?

2:09 Edith Bowman: Director Alex Gabassi joins me to discuss the final episode of the season.


Alex Gabassi:I remember shooting that scene, the passage of baton from one to another, would stay with Blair.

And I said, ‘Oh, you know what?’ And I told Peter, ‘Let's stay with Major. I want a proper end, it would be lovely to have a proper ending for him because he's such a wonderful character’



Edith Bowman: But first, I was lucky enough to sit down once again with writer Peter Morgan at his home.


Edith Bowman: Episode 10, ‘Decommissioned’. How do you know, you know, you've still got another season to come, but how do you know how to end a season, and particularly with this season, ‘Decommissioned’, How did you know what you wanted this episode to be?

Peter Morgan: I just saw episode 10 as sort of the story of two yachts and initially it had been called ‘Two Yachts’ and it was a story both about the Royal Yacht Britannia, but also about, so we didn't actually, we shot this, but we didn't actually put it in the final episode, but the, the… Mohamed Al-Fayed bought a, he rang Diana up and said, ‘Why don't you…’ Do you remember the scene where he says, ‘Why don't you come on holiday with us?’ Yeah. And, and he said, ‘I've got a big new yacht. It's a fantastic new yacht.’ Only to hang up the phone and realise that he doesn't have a new yacht, and that he'd somehow just, ‘Why did I just say I had a new yacht? I don't have a new yacht.’ He then had to buy a new yacht and we shot all that.

And so, we decided not to have that, but that had been how the show had been conceived. So, the show had been conceived as a story of both the decommissioning of the Britannia and the, as it were, the commissioning of the Jonikal.

And that by telling the story of those two yachts, you, you somehow would set it all up because you know that once Mohamed… Once she's accepted the invitation to go on that holiday, you know where you're headed. 


Queen Elizabeth: I said, If those were the terms of the Royal Yachts existence, I would sooner it be decommissioned.

So that's the decision. Charles' trip to Hong Kong will be her last official trip. After 43 years of service and more than a million nautical miles around the globe, the Royal Yacht is to be retired.


Edith Bowman: The Britannia, the Yacht Britannia, and the decommission of that, it has such a powerful impact on the Queen, you know, we, we begin it with the end of this, this boat, which is signified so much and has been a character.

Peter Morgan: Yeah. 

Edith Bowman: Throughout this entire show.

Peter Morgan: Very intentionally in this season. Yeah, yeah. 

Edith Bowman: To, you know, and it, it's seen a lot about so many things really. This structure, this thing, this vessel, and it carries a lot of weight with it. What has it given you as a writer in terms of that kind of…

Peter Morgan: Well, you know, it's a great big juicy floating metaphor, isn't it? And, and the degree of her attachment to it as well you know, it is. If you, if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh, you know it's really worth a visit because…

Edith Bowman: It's down in Leith, isn't it?

Peter Morgan: Yeah. The thing that really struck me was how modest it was, not how grand it was. The Queen's bedroom is a, it was almost like a convent in its modesty. Very, very narrow bed, very simply furnished. Same with the Duke of Edinburgh’s. You know, their two bedrooms were side, you know, very close to one another.

There was nothing luxurious about that yacht. Of course, there were great big drawing rooms and they were well appointed, but not nearly as much as you'd think. You, you, the picture you conjure up when you think of a luxury, you know, the Royal Yacht is, is quite different from what it was.

And then on top of all that, the knowledge that 220, you know, crew were on board at the same time, and you just thought, ‘Where did everybody fit?’The crew, it would be, it was total sardines. 

And then, and then I finally got to see the captain's cabin, and even that was barely more than a cupboard. And so, they, they existed in this, on the one hand, yes, quite grand in that it, it had so much history and so many people had come aboard it, and they'd used it on so many occasions, but I would understand their frustration if somebody was sitting there going, ‘Oh my God, it's so bling.’ But it, it really, it, it really wasn't. 

Edith Bowman: What does that, you know, in terms of that physical thing that you went and spent time in and looked around and saw, does that fuel a lot of things for you in terms of when you're writing, whether it be about her as a character or how you write that?

Peter Morgan: It says a lot about her as a character. It also… I'm always struck also when, when we film on location and we have period cars and they're tiny and it makes you feel that they were somehow smaller, I don’t know quite what I'm, what I'm getting at here, but when I, when I walked around Britannia, I was, I was really struck by the modesty of a previous generation. The generation that turns the lights out, you know? That generation's so different.


Prince Charles: Well, let's just hope there's still an institution for me to take the oath for.

Queen Elizabeth: I don't think it's my behaviour that's threatening its survival.

Prince Charles: Isn't it? Hasn't been on my watch that there's been a complete breakdown of authority that a program on national television’s has made such a mockery of us.

Queen Elizabeth: The vote, as I understand it went comfortably in our favour. Less in yours.


Edith Bowman: In episode 10, you really feel and see Charles's confidence.

You know, he's just been on holiday, he's been to Hong Kong, and he had that private meeting with Tony Blair, and he took Camilla out on the boat, and he comes back and he's a different Charles almost in a way, in the way that he stands up to her, not fully, but in a different way than he has previously when he's had an audience with his mother. It’s a really interesting scene that. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that scene in writing it and what you were trying to to say about Charles as a character at that point and their relationship as well at that point.

Peter Morgan:And that's a companion piece to the scene in season three, where… 

Edith Bowman:  With Josh.

Peter Morgan: Yes.

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Peter Morgan: And obviously he's come a long way and he's become more powerful and the Queen's become less confident. You know, he's now absolutely a man in his prime and she's older than retirement age. So, the power shift between, I mean, in the end, isn't it really the all, the only thing that's, no matter if you're a monarchist or not, the family, you know, the dynamics of a family are just, there's nothing better to write about.

And that's what keeps interesting me is, you know, just fam, just the, the pathology of a family, the challenges of a family, the rivalries, the alliances, the betrayals. 

Edith Bowman: Tony Blair, let's talk about Tony Blair, cause we get a glimpse of Tony Blair in this episode. What do we have to look forward to with him in the next series?

Peter Morgan: Well, that, that was a particularly tricky one for me because Tony Blair is of course one of the, you know, one, and I put this in inverted commas, but one of the ‘superstar Prime Ministers’. You know, there's no question that he, Thatcher, Churchill sort of are the, are the most luminous, not just actually about the way, about their time in office, the length of their time in office or indeed the amount of election victories, but, but just their force of character and, and just, I don’t know the impact they made on an, on a country, on an electorate, and probably also on the world stage. So…

Edith Bowman: You used the word luminous there and you're talking about, you know, a certain number of Prime Ministers and combination of, of your writing, and his performance, Johnny Lee Miller and, and John Major, I mean, from someone who was portrayed as the kind of, you know, this grey character, he's luminous in this, this season. You've, you've kind of is fascinating, but you've made him a really interesting man, or you've allowed the parts of him that we weren't aware of rise to fruition.

Peter Morgan: Well, I'm really happy to hear you say that.

Edith Bowman: Johnny's fantastic. He's so good in this. 

Peter Morgan: I do think the casting director will allow me to take credit for that because Robert Stern, our casting director, came up with some really interesting names of people who played the eccentric and I, I just didn't believe it.

I, I felt they were missing who he was and I thought, well, the Queen really likes him, that was well known. And therefore he'll be a good listener and he'll be sympathetic.

And, and so when you put all these elements together, everything I heard was that women really liked him, you know, really, really felt safe with him, liked him, valued him, and that he was, every, you kept hearing this, ‘you were underestimated, underestimated, underestimated, underestimated.’ And so I. I said to the casting directors, ‘can you just look for a leading man? Look for a leading man and put those glasses on a leading man rather than look for an eccentric because of the glasses.’

And I actually I said, try Johnny Lee Miller. 


John Major: It is strange the, the human capacity for self-deception, despite all the polls, I still felt I had a chance of winning. Instead, my party has just suffered its worst defeat in memory. I do hope the history books will judge my premiership rather more kindly than the electorate has. 

Queen Elizabeth: Whatever the historians make of it, you will always rank highly in my personal table of Prime Ministers, very highly.


Peter Morgan: I'm very happy to say that no sooner had they got in touch with Johnny Miller, then we heard that he came from exactly the same part of, you know, South London, Raynes Park.

He knew that whole area where John Major had spent, and was brought up and cuz it was in between Brixton, but also he went to Rutlish Grammar. And that whole area, Johnny didn't have to change his voice to sound like John Major. You know, it's a very specific, it's not cockney, it's not, it's not RP for those of us with sort of forensic ears as it were, it's very particular. And I always think it's fantastic if an actor isn't having to sort of completely twist their mouth, if they can bring as much of their natural stuff, and Johnny was so keen, he was so passionate about doing it, and he had, you know, so, and I, I think he had a really good time.

We were thrilled with what he's done, I mean, who'd a guessed, right? Sick Boy.

Edith Bowman: Yeah. Did that, you know the note, he leaves for Blair, did that actually happen? 

Peter Morgan: Yes. 

Edith Bowman: I love that. That in itself tells you so much about. 

Peter Morgan: Yes.

Edith Bowman: Him. 

Peter Morgan: Yes.

Edith Bowman:   I think in, in that, in the last episode.

Peter Morgan: And by the way, everybody that I speak to who's close to Blair spoke of the extraordinary high opinion that Blair always had of John Major. Even, you know, even when, when in opposition.

Edith Bowman: This is a unique situation you're in because season six is being made and there is nothing beyond that for this show. How does that feel for you?

Peter Morgan: It feels good for the time being.

Edith Bowman:  Have you finished writing it? 

Peter Morgan: Yeah. 

Edith Bowman: Wow.

Peter Morgan:  Yeah, I have.

Edith Bowman:  Wowee.

Peter Morgan:  Yeah.

Edith Bowman:  How'd you know when it's done? 

Peter Morgan:  Well, I mean.

Edith Bowman:  I mean, obviously as you're filming there'll be tweaks and things like this. 

Peter Morgan:   There'll be tweaks and there, and there'll be tweaks to what I've done. You know, this morning we did a read through of episode nine of season six, and you know, I, I, I'm gonna be doing some changes based on what I've heard, but if you took it all out and shot it tomorrow, I wouldn't, I wouldn't lose too much sleep.


TV commentator: People in this country want to have the freedom to be citizens rather than subjects.

Phone voice: You have voted no. You have voted no.

TV presenter: If you want to see a King Charles and Queen Camilla hold up the blue card. If you don't, then please hold up a red card. It looks like no. Have Royal scandals damaged the country's reputation? I think an overwhelming majority says yes.

In our final show of voting cards, we want audience to tell us if you want a monarchy show a blue card. If you don't, then please use the red card. 



Edith Bowman: For the final time this season, it's time to put our burning question to ‘The Crown's’ Head of Research. Annie, please tell us, did the TV debate really happen and did Diana vote?



Annie Sulzberger: Yes, it did, it's phenomenal, and she voted according to one source 250 times.

Edith Bowman: What? 

Annie Sulzberger: And that would actually lead to a lot of questions about the vote because they're like, If you can keep calling in, then doesn’t that feel a wee bit rigged?

But yes, it's called ‘Monarchy: The Nation Decides’. It's the largest ever live debate of its kind ever staged on telly, and it's the kind of the closest thing we've had to a Royal referendum.  However, as I say, it's flawed. Sir Trevor McDonald hosts it, it has like an expert panel of reporters and historians, but they're also instant poll questions where the audience hold up cards saying sort of ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. And there's a public poll results, a Mori poll that looks at every section of the country. And then there's a dial-in poll, and that's the bit that Diana interacts with.

So, we know that William was actually with her watching and was like trying to convince her not to keep calling cuz of the cost. I think in the end it was something like 25 quid because it was 10p a call. She calls in 250 times and the question she's answering is, ‘Do you want a monarchy? Yes or no?’

And she is saying no 250 times. 

Edith Bowman: So, this debate on TV, which we see a few clips of what was the outcome?

Annie Sulzberger: It's really a massive undertaking. And what comes out is that on the whole, when you look at the results, something like 66% of the public want to keep a monarchy, but 34% is against. Scotland comes out as the only area with a majority against keeping a monarchy.

69% of the public wants a referendum on whether or not to have a monarchy that never comes through. Will there be a monarchy in, in a hundred years? Only 20% think there will be.

But the only unanimous decision is Charles can't be king. And then there are other polls and other discussions about the cost of the monarchy, does it fit with a modern democracy? Most say it does not.

They talk about the sex scandals and everything that's responsible for this decline of public respect for the monarchy, I think 40% blame Fergie, and then 33% blame Charles for the decline in respect for the monarchy. 

They even vote on is the Queen a good mother? Is Philip a good father? Philip does not fare very well, 34% say yes, for her 65% say yes.

So that's coming off the back of Dimbleby and Charles saying, You know, ‘my dad was a bully and my mom's a neglectful’ and all of the kids being wayward and divorced and so on. 

This was in 1997, January 1997. They asked the public, ‘can you name three useful things the Royals do?’ 83% could not answer that question. 

So, from this, they are very aware that a ton of work has to be done.


Edith Bowman: I will shortly be speaking once again to Elizabeth Debicki, but before that, in this episode, we really see the growing tensions between both the Queen and Prince Charles, also her sense of loss and vulnerability expressed through the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

I wanted to hear more about where we find the Queen at the end of this season, so I sat down with the director of this episode, Alex Gabassi and asked him if her journey across this whole season influenced how he shot this final episode.


Alex Gabassi: Well, there was a, a map that was the original map was that episode one would set this, the Britannia.

Edith Bowman:  Yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: Theme for the season somehow and would be lurking there in the shadows. The idea that she is about to, you know, you start with the first episode is her having this medical check-up and we go ‘Oh’, you know, jumping from Claire Foy to Imelda.

Edith Bowman:  Yeah.

Alex Gabassi: You suddenly realise, well, okay, she, she's older. And then we would pick up later in the episode 10, so that would be a proper bookend to that idea.So that for me, informed me, Oh, okay, I know that, you know, physically that's what we are going to.

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: The other idea was that Charles was trying to, you know, somehow not only bring another, another queen in the person of Camilla to the fore, but also trying to make his presence be more present. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: You know, and, and I suppose, that was also something that, you know, these threats were around. The idea that Tony Blair comes to power at the end also fuels that, so that's why for me, it was very important to make John Major's departure emotional. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: For me at least. I wanted that to feel, I remember shooting that scene, the passage of baton from one to another, would stay with Blair.

And I said, ‘Oh, you know what?’ And I told Peter, ‘Let's stay with Major. I wanted a proper end, it would be lovely to have a proper ending for him because he's such a wonderful character’ and he's, we felt that, you know, he's so considerate and so, and I think they connected. 

Edith Bowman: He cared for her, didn't he?

Alex Gabassi: He cared, he cared for her.

And, the way he played, and she says herself, ‘Thank you for you handling the whole affair with the Wales, Wales’ Because it's, he was there just doing it out of, you know, favour. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: And, so that was important. So we knew that she would come to the end with that. And, and, and I think the boat at the end, I shot a lot more that your question refers really to how do you inform the actor of a scene in which needs to be alone and is, there's no dialogue. It's just how do you portray loss, sadness, the menace that surrounds you, age, all those things?

And I remember we, we came to the conclusion Imelda and I, that that boat sequence would be about, it's not about the material aspect of that ship, but it's, it's, you have to remember, this is the first place in which she was given to, to furnish herself.

So that was the first. So that place was the only place she was given to make a home herself. So the decor, the tables, the chairs, everything was her choice, which, you know, unlike the palaces and everything else. So, for us, that was the main drive for her to, ‘I'm losing not only a home.’ So that's why she looks at the bed and sees, well, this is also, you have to remember, Philip.

Edith Bowman: Philip, yeah. 

Alex Gabassi: Gets more absent, you know. And, and then the boat made sense, and then that place, the emptiness.

Edith Bowman: There's one other scene I wanted to mention, which is such a funny little scene, but it, it really says so much. And I know that this is a dramatisation, I always gotta remind myself about that, but her birthday and the gifts and you know, and Charles thinks he's doing a really wonderful personal thing by giving her something he's painted, you know, he's put work into this thing. 

Whereas Andrew gives her a singing fish, which my dad used to have on the pub wall that we used to have in Scotland, and it's kind of like, it's just a funny but brilliant little scene that's so dismissive and says so much. It made me feel really sad watching that scene.

Alex Gabassi: Yeah, you're right, you're right. And again, it's something that comes later as you are doing the episode and it's beautiful because that's the other thing that's lovely about ‘The Crown’, Peter will write a scene, will describe the scene, but will not give you any hints of what it means. It's everything comes via dialogue.

So, the subtext, and he trusts the directors and the actors to bring the subtext to it. And that particular one was the one that, as I read it, I go, ‘Okay, this is how it feels.’ And also, to make Andrew the one that saves the party by being the funny one, but you're right. I mean, it's heart, heart breaking when you see Charles giving that and no one paying attention to this.

‘Oh yeah, this is great’. but it's not the moment. And, and I think it's funny because that was also informed by the idea that the Queen herself via research, she doesn't like, she doesn't like the balloons and celebrate and the happy birthday. So we sort of pushed a little bit just to make it. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah.

Alex Gabassi: So it's almost as if, ‘you know what, I'd rather have a laugh’ and you know, but it shows from the beginning this distance between these two characters, which will eventually be paid off at the end with that scene that you mentioned about them two. And he's trying, again, mothers and sons, fathers, and sons. This is all, this episode is full of that, isn't it?

Edith Bowman:  Yeah.

Alex Gabassi: It's, is Mohamed and Dodi and… 

Edith Bowman:  Yeah.

Alex Gabassi:  And, and Elizabeth and, and, and Charles. It's, it's this disconnect and, and just trying to prove themselves that they can be the worthy sons, and yet they don't find the way, you know, they're incapable of being understood and or understanding. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah.




Edith Bowman: I was lucky enough to meet up with Elizabeth Debicki twice to record for this podcast. Our first conversation, you will have heard back in episode seven, which was recorded on set when she was fresh from filming. We then met up again in London a few weeks later, and it was fascinating to hear more about Elizabeth's time on the show when she'd had some time to reflect on the process.



Edith Bowman: Elizabeth, the last time we spoke, I mean to say it was intense was, would be an understatement. We were in your living room, which you find very bizarre. ‘Get out of my living room. Who are these people?’

Elizabeth Debicki: I'm so glad we're in this tiny room instead. I feel much more comfortable in this padded walled room.

Edith Bowman: Best place for us.

But have you had a moment to just take a breath from the experience of ‘The Crown’ yet, and, and what it's been for you?

Elizabeth Debicki: Yes. I've taken a tiny breath, like a little gulpy breath because we wrapped the pickups that we did about a week and a half ago. So, and strangely in the interim I went off and did something else in America for a second, so I think it's easier for me to have this conversation with you now. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah. Rather than being in it.

Elizabeth Debicki: In literally, in my house, and I was basically in character. 

Elizabeth Debicki: I was very, it was a kind of jarring psychological experience to try and sort of discuss with a degree of separation because I, I realised at the time, I, I didn't really have it. So, I have no idea what I said to you.

Edith Bowman: It was very good. I had a lovely conversation with you. 

Elizabeth Debicki: Okay good.

Edith Bowman:  But it is, I think that's the amazing thing that I've felt whenever I've been able to come on set, is just the extent and the depth of the world that's created for you all to be in and to inhabit, to help you really with the characters, the situations, the journeys that they, they go on. Is it different to anything you've experienced before that side of it?

Elizabeth Debicki: I think the level of detail, you know, it's kind of twofold because I've probably never sunk into a role as maybe as deeply or perhaps for as long, and then to be supported the entire time by the creations that the production team make, it just is a kind of twofold, enveloping into the world. 

And so, I suppose it is unlike anything in that sense. But also, you know, I'll never forget the first time I walked onto that Kensington Palace set in rehearsals and I was just completely, my breath was just completely taken away by it. 

And also I think it was very emotional experience for me because I had seen, I had imagined it for so long and I had, I had seen some and spent a long time looking at all the photographs and the, you know, and sort of specific things about her original bedroom and apartments and yeah, I was just astonished at the, the fact that it was an interpretation, but it was so authentic.

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Elizabeth Debicki: To the original, so, yeah.

Edith Bowman: You know, it’s such a brutal title for that final episode, ‘Decommissioned’, and it relates to a lot of different things, obviously, but it's, it's a conclusion in a way really, isn't it, in a way to her role within the family, within the Royals. Where is she at the end of the season? Because we've still got another season to go.

Elizabeth Debicki: We do. 

Edith Bowman: But where do we, where do we find her in episode 10? In ‘Decommissioned’? It makes me feel so sad, just saying that word.

Elizabeth Debicki: Well, well, I'll make you feel better because, I think there are moments in 10, which really do kind of delve into a real sense of really deep sadness, but actually my feeling playing her in 10 and why I loved doing moments in that episode and, and working with Alex, the director of that episode, Alex Gabassi, who I adore, was that actually the thing that was happening in that episode for her was that she was reconnect, and, and this is just my interpretation of, of playing her in that moment, was that she was getting back something that had been long dormant and something inviolate, and something sort of untouched by all of the, just the sort of tumult of, of her life up to that point you know.

The sadnesses and the losses and the court battles and the ups and the downs and the toing and froing with the establishment and the, you know, everything that she'd sort of gone through.

Edith Bowman: And the press.

Elizabeth Debicki:  And the press, yeah. And the invasion of it and, and what I sort of think was just outright abuse by the end, by where we get up to with the end of season five. I, abuse by the press.

I think that's what I felt, you know, that she was, that there was a sort of part of her that hadn't been, it hadn't touched, you know?

Edith Bowman: Yeah. 

Elizabeth Debicki:  And I think that that's true of people when they sort of come through the fire in a way, and they rise up above it, and, and that part is what I hope we sort of move into six with, which is a part that in reality, we did see sort of like a blossoming. There was a sort of regaining of authenticity of herself, but also of joy and, and silliness, and playfulness and travel and sort of taking things back for herself and, and having autonomy again and yeah, to how much the lack of that must have affected a human spirit is.

Edith Bowman: Yeah.

Elizabeth Debicki:  You know, almost unfathomable, and I think that she's starting to even, just the spark of what it might feel like to make choices for yourself again and do what you actually want to do in life, you know? 

Edith Bowman: Yeah.

Elizabeth Debicki:  And that's, that's what I felt. 


Princess Diana:  I thought after the divorce, I'd be this happy, smiley thing again, but I'm more glum than ever.

Camilla’s 50th birthday is coming up, and Charles wants to throw a big party at Highgrove, I don't wanna be in the country for that. Where to go? I had plans to take the boys to America for a summer holiday, but it got shut down for security reasons so…

Mohamed Al-Fayed: Why don't you come to St Tropez with us? 

Heidi Wathen-Fayed: Please.

Princess Diana: I wouldn’t inflict all this on you.


Edith Bowman: It almost feels like she had that kind of slight fear of releasing the shackles of the responsibility of being part of the Royal Family, but as soon as that is happens, the reality is actually she kind of get, gets her life back in a way.

Elizabeth Debicki: I, I think so, and I, we, we haven't moved into it yet, but I, I think from what I understand from my research as well, was that I, I think that was probably a real fear, you know, how, how can you still be effective with all these causes that you care really deeply about. But then obviously we sort of saw that in doing it her way, even though she suffered from a lot of backlash from her choices, if they were deemed too political or too kind of transgressive or whatever.

But at the same time, she did raise a tremendous amount of awareness doing it her way.

Edith Bowman:  Yeah. 

Elizabeth Debicki: When kind of with more freedom and more joy and I guess more, evermore human face to the causes as well, yeah. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah. What has this experience of playing, I mean, but you're kind of halfway through, almost in a way.

We still got the next season to go, but the opportunity as an actor to play a character, trying to move who she is, but the opportunity to play someone over, you know, a period of time who goes through such a journey. Did you go in with an expectation of what that would be like?

Elizabeth Debicki: I think that I, I knew that a degree of surrender was necessary. 

Edith Bowman: Not total surrender. 

Elizabeth Debicki: No, not total surrender, but I think more than, than I was used to as an actor. And I think that's partially to do with the time that I've already spent inside that, that role and the time that's yet to come, you know? And the depth of it, because of Peter's writing, and, the places that we go in the show and how long we were sort of in it.

And I didn't really know what it was going to be, but I, I really felt, and I remember saying this to my friend Vanessa Kirby, Princess Margaret, I remember saying, ‘Sis, I just feel like I am at the bottom of a huge mountain and I'm never gonna get up the top of it.’ And she was sort of like, ‘You will, you just have to sort of go slowly, slowly’.

And I, that's how I felt, you know, but I could never have known the, the sort of, the gifts that it's given me already. It's a tremendous, it's an incredible gift to be sort of examining and, and sort of moving closer to the spirit of a person who is so remarkable.

Edith Bowman:  Yeah. 

Elizabeth Debicki: And just beautiful and loving and kind and, you know, complex and flawed and learning and you know, it's just, it was just an amazing, it's an amazing gift as an actor. 

And I think the other thing about the show is because it's very beloved, and there's a sense of responsibility towards the story, and a desire to do your best work and all these things.

You know, it's a, it felt like a huge challenge, and I think those things are often sort of gifts in disguise, aren't they? Because when you have to sort of keep coming back and facing it and you can't back down, you can't run away, you, you have to evolve, you know, and I, definitely felt that happening, making this, so that was also great.

Edith Bowman: There’s not much repetition in terms of kind of, you know, playing this character. It's not kind of doing the same thing, kinda thing. It's a, it's a journey that is, is kind of in, it's like perpetual motion really.

Elizabeth Debicki: Totally. Yeah, Totally.

Edith Bowman: Is it a character that's easy to kind of park until you…

Elizabeth Debicki:  No.

Edith Bowman: You haven't cut yet? Yeah, she's still there.

Elizabeth Debicki:  Ask anyone in my life, they’ll tell you how parked she is. No. 

Edith Bowman:   Elizabeth’s been walking about in tracksuit bottoms and cowboy boots for the past month at home. 

Elizabeth Debicki: No. No. I mean, it's really, you know, it's a deep, it's a deep dive. 

Edith Bowman: Yeah.

Elizabeth Debicki: And I, I don't actually know how, to necessarily sort of release it, but in a funny way because we're sort of in hiatus.

Edith Bowman:  Yeah, cause you know, you've still got an intense.

Elizabeth Debicki:  Yeah.

Edith Bowman: Sixth season. 

Elizabeth Debicki:  Yeah, I sort of made Peter Morgan jump the other day at dinner know, cuz I said, ‘Oh, I've gotta, I've gotta like release it.’ And he went, ‘not yet, after. Promise?’ 

Edith Bowman: What's your favourite, I mean, memory moment? Think about the past 12 months. The massive task of playing Diana in ‘The Crown’ season five. What's the first pops in your head about that?

Elizabeth Debicki: Do you know what it's actually being in Spain, I think that was my happy, my happiest memories were, and when we were, when it was a Charles and me, Dom and I. I, I, I… Time for a break

Dom and I and, and all the amazing, we had such wonderful cast on that boat, and I just loved them all. And I think in a way it's sort of the most standalone happy memory. I remember doing very quickly, doing a scene, I think it's in episode six, where the Royal Family go to church for Christmas and a director that I'd only worked with in episode nine where everything is, you know, for want of a better word, sad.

Edith Bowman: Yeah.

Elizabeth Debicki:  Really sad. And, he said, ‘Oh, it's so, so weird to see her having a nice time.’ And I was like, ‘I know, it's rare.’

And I, and I think that that's why that Spain, the Spain moment. So there's one moment where I had all the kids like snuggled up at one end. Well, I stole them. I wanted all of them. I actually asked Jess, we had this incredibly gorgeous child named Clara who was just sort of like, so sort of like perfect, this perfect child that everyone was sort of just would stare at her like, ‘Wow.’ It's just like a fairy from the bottom of the garden, . 

And I said to Jess, I said, ‘Can I have Clara please?’ And she's like, ‘Well, you have to talk to Natasha because she's playing the mother,’ you know?

Edith Bowman: Yeah. Penny. 

Elizabeth Debicki: Yeah. And I was like, no, just use your directorial way. 

Edith Bowman: Just send them my way.

Elizabeth Debicki: So, I had all the kids and we were sort of drawing things and it was a scene that was just this sort of non, there's no dialogue in it. It was just all of us having lunch at a table. 

Edith Bowman: And this is on the, what was the second honeymoon to Italy?

Elizabeth Debicki: The second honeymoon.

Edith Bowman: Filmed in Spain.

Elizabeth Debicki:  Big yacht. We were in Spain and it was sunny andI had all the kids and, and there was this sad, cold pizza on the table that they were like hoeing into having the best time. I love kids on set when they think ‘I get to eat this’ you know? And all the adults are like, ‘Get it away from me. Don't, I'm not touching that salad.’

And yeah, we were just having this sort of great time and, and then we had to get a shot with a helicopter was going round and round. And Jess sort of ran up to us cuz of all the people, everyone else on the boat is hidden downstairs because the helicopter gets the whole boat and us at this great big, long fancy lunch out on the deck.

And she came up to me and she said, ‘Just make sure the kids don't look at the’ Oh, she'll hate if I do an impression - she just said, ‘Just make sure all the kids don't look at the camera. Okay, bye’ And she just disappeared. And I was like, ‘absolutely impossible’. It’s impossible. I've got like a four-year-old, a six year old, eight year old, whatever, I had five kids.

And I was like, ‘Okay guys. When the massive helicopter that you've never seen before, a helicopter, is about 10 meters away from your head, don't look up. Even though you feel like you're about to die. Don't look at it. Okay guys?’ And they were like, ‘Yay. Whatever, pizza.’ And then of course this helicopter disappears outta nowhere across, you know, comes across in the sky and it's so loud and it, and everybody's hair is kind of flying around.

And I just had to use every inch of my imaginative powers to distract the children from looking at the helicopter. At one point I looked down and Dom and Natasha and everyone are having the loveliest, like adult lunch. It's just the absolute distinction of like adult table, kiddy table. And I'm at the table juggling pizza, like grabbing children, telling them jokes, everything, just to stop them looking at the helicopter.

But I think it was probably the most, just like the silliest loveliest afternoon and having everyone together and yeah.

Edith Bowman: I love that, the child whisperer in the corner with the pizza.

Elizabeth Debicki:  The child wrangler.



Edith Bowman: And so we are nearly at the end of another season of ‘The Crown: The Official Podcast’, and almost the end of ‘The Crown’ as a whole. Before we wrap up on this podcast for now, let’s get a sneak peek into the next season, season six, with writer, Peter Morgan. 



Peter Morgan: In season six, just the arrival of William and Kate and Harry is, so, it just blows the doors off, as it were, and you just wanna see them. And it, it happened in the read through when we were reading, you could just see everyone was just looking up and looking at each other across the room. And every time William spoke it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is just riveting.’


Edith Bowman: Well, we’ve got all that and more to look forward to in season six. 

Now before we go, I just want to say on a personal note, I’m sure you’ll agree that season five has been fantastic. The wealth of talent and dedication from so many departments and people to make this show is extraordinary and I love that I get the chance to speak to them and have the honour of seeing the show come together from script, to filming, to post production and then get the opportunity to share that with you. I will never forget getting to spend the day at Elstree studios on the Kensington palace set, sat on Diana’s sofa, interviewing so many of the cast members. The magic of this’s just really stuck with me in the detail that goes into making this show and that day on set was a great example, whether it was the lush furnishings to the china birds everywhere to the specific shades of yellow on the walls. Even the 1990’s video tapes and albums scattered all around. 

I’ve really loved seeing the unmistakable 90’s flavour come through in season five, so to play us out for this season of ‘The Crown: The Official Podcast’, a different and distinctly 90’s take on The Crown main theme by Hanz Zimmer, remixed by Faithless. 

So, for now it’s goodbye, but don’t worry we will be back next year for the final ever season of ‘The Crown’. I can’t wait.


Edith Bowman:I’m Edith Bowman, and I’d like to give a special thanks to our guests on this episode, Peter Morgan, Annie Sulzberger, Alex Gabassi and Elizabeth Debicki.

‘The Crown: The Official Podcast’ is produced by Netflix and Somethin’ Else in association with Left Bank Pictures.


Edith Bowman: Production from Left Bank Pictures by Georgina Brown, with special thanks to Annie Sulzberger, Oona O’Beirn, Hilla Hamidi, Sophie Loizou, Georgina Pickford, Jodie Brown, Meriel Sheibani-Clare, Daniel Marc Janes, Nourhan Tewfik, Anna Basista, Sophie Badman, Anna Carden, Nada Atieh-Williscroft and Sasha Gibson. 

This series was created by Somethin’ Else. The Executive Producer is Simon Poole. The Senior Producer is Zoe Edwards, the Producer is Rosie Merotra, the Assistant Producer is Ben Johns, with additional production from Chris Skinner and Hannah Talbot. Special thanks to Jennifer Mistri, Archan Mohile and Lily Hambly. The Sound Engineer is Josh Gibbs. 

 Music is by Hans Zimmer and Martin Phipps…and of course Faithless.