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Dominic West says Prince Harry’s memoir changed The Crown performance

Dominic West says Prince Harry’s memoir changed The Crown performance

Dominic West has said that reading the Duke of Sussex’s memoir, Spare, affected the way he portrayed the now-King Charles III in one key scene of The Crown.

54-year-old West joined Netflix’s hit drama about the royal family in season five, playing a Charles in his mid-forties. He reprises the role in the current and final season of the series, which enters a new decade.

Episode four of season six’s part one – released in November – deals with the fallout of Princess Diana’s death in Paris in 1997. In the early scenes of the episode, West’s Charles is seen gently waking his two sons, Prince William (Rufas Kampa) and Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards), to break the tragic news.

Of filming that particular scene, West told Variety that reading Harry’s book “did slightly affect the way we played that key scene”.

In Harry’s best-selling, tell-all memoir, he described the moment he found out about his mother’s death. He wrote that Charles placed a hand on his knee, assuring him that “it’s going to be OK”, which he said “was quite a lot for him”.

Spare wasn’t the only source material, The Wire alum read. “I’ve been reading every newspaper article or journalistic article on [Charles] since I got the job,” West said.

(L-R) Rufas Kampa, Dominic West and Fflyn Edwards in ‘The Crown’ (Keith Bernstein/Netflix)
(L-R) Rufas Kampa, Dominic West and Fflyn Edwards in ‘The Crown’ (Keith Bernstein/Netflix)

“In a way, this was a gift that he was in the headlines every day when he was becoming king – like getting irritated by the fountain pen,” he explained. “In the cold, formal exterior of this guy, I tried to get those little tells.”

The way creator Peter Morgan thinks of Charles in season five differs from the way he sees him in season six, West said.

“We had a few discussions, particularly about [Charles] as a father and how warm or close he was to his sons,” West added. “I thought that was a more honest portrayal of him. Peter saw him as much more distanced from his sons.

“We had a very interesting discussion with someone who had witnessed him with his sons, and she did slightly put him right. She said, ‘What I saw was a closeness.’ And then, of course, Harry’s book comes out and we didn’t know what to think!”

Harry was just 12 when his mother died. In his memoir, he claimed that his father did not hug him, and he later “felt like a politician” as he greeted members of the public in the wake of Diana’s death.

Both parts of The Crown season six are out now on Netflix.