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Fact vs. Fiction: Did ‘The Crown’ Get Diana’s BBC Interview Right?

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Crown Season 5, Episode 8, “Gunpowder.”]

When it comes to Netflix’s The Crown, the series may be based on real-life figures, but it doesn’t always deliver on reality as certain changes are made to further captivate audiences.

Season 5 is no exception, particularly when it centers around one of the most famous interviews given by a royal ever. Princess Diana’s (Elizabeth Debicki) infamous segment for the BBC takes center stage in the eighth episode, “Gunpowder” in which she agrees to speak one-on-one with Martin Bashir about her struggles, marriage, and hopes for the future.

The events surrounding the interview’s culmination are pretty accurate based on prior accounts of Bashir and the BBC team entering Kensington Palace on November 5, 1995 under the false pretense that they were there to install a hi-fi system. The pivotal interview took place on Guy Fawkes Day in both reality and onscreen as Diana’s boys participated in the annual British commemoration involving bonfires and fireworks.

(Credit: Netflix)

The living room setup was fairly spotless, with carefully place photos, well-lit areas, and a seriousness that was palpable in the air. And although Debicki’s tone may slightly differ from the late Princess’s original interview, the most notable change made in the segment was the use of certain words and their placement.

Whether it was the intention of showrunner Peter Morgan or not to deliver a near-replica of the BBC interview or not, it’s obvious there were some liberties taken in the script, particularly with the usage of certain words. In the original interview, which aired on the Queen’s 48th wedding anniversary on November 10, Diana says of the royal family’s reaction to her depression, “It gave everybody a wonderful new label – Diana’s unstable and Diana’s mentally unbalanced – and unfortunately that seems to have stuck on and off over the years.”

In the version delivered for Morgan’s dramatized series, the princess, played by Debicki says, “It gave people a marvelous new label to pin on me. ‘Diana’s crazy.’ And should be sent to a home.”

Elizabeth Debicki and Prasanna Puwanarajah in 'The Crown' Season 5

(Credit: Netflix)

While the “home” comment may seem to come out of left field, it should be noted that in the original interview, Diana mentions the concept saying there was a connotation, “I was – again – unstable, sick, and should be put in a home of some sort in order to get better.”

The words that stick out most here would have to be “marvelous” and “crazy.” Both terms have what feels to be a heavier connotation than “wonderful” and “unstable.” In particular, “crazy,” has the kind of negative connotation that Diana was trying to push away from her in this instance, so it’s slightly perplexing that such a term would be selected.

But perhaps it’s a charge at the individuals who persecuted her as such? Much of Season 5 centers around Bashir’s attempts to get Diana to agree to an interview, featuring the shady approach he took by presenting forged documents and stirring up paranoia in the Princess.

And considering this season features the most publicized era of the royals until now, it’s understandable that the show may take some dramatic liberties to present viewers with a slightly varied version of something they’re already familiar with. The question is, did The Crown get BBC’s An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales right?

Let us know your thoughts in the poll and comments section, below.

The Crown, Season 5, Streaming now, Netflix

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