The Crown admits making up Princess Diana scene as former minister joins criticism over disclaimer issue

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
The Crown S4. Picture shows: Diana Princess of Wales (EMMA CORRIN). Filming Location: Military Hostel Front, Malaga
Diana Princess of Wales played by Emma Corrin in The Crown. (Netflix)

The makers of The Crown have admitted fabricating a scene involving Princess Diana “to break our hearts” as another voice joined criticism of Netflix for refusing to add a disclaimer about the truth of the show.

Season four includes a scene involving Diana, played by Emma Corrin, singing a love song from Phantom of the Opera in a video recording for her husband.

Diana records All I Ask Of You for Charles, played by Josh O’Connor, after he reacts badly to her decision to perform on stage with ballerina Wayne Sleep at the Royal Opera House.

Watch: Is The Crown a true story?

In a podcast about the show, Jessica Hobbs, who directed the episode, said: “Our understanding was that she’d done a dance for him that was filmed on stage, in the costumes, on the real set. That’s what we understood from the research. So we extended that to her singing.”

Annie Sulzberger, head of research for The Crown, said they decided to extend it to singing because Corrin can sing.

She added: “Let’s have her sing it because it’s going to break our hearts, right?”

Read more: Who is Wayne Sleep? Princess Diana's secret dance partner who performed at the Royal Opera House

Diana really did perform on stage with Sleep, but it’s not clear how her then-husband Charles reacted to the surprise. The Prince of Wales had previously taken to the same stage himself before Diana.

Addressing the dance with Sleep, Sulzberger added: “It’s not a gift for him, it is the last thing Charles would want. Really, it’s an act for her.

Diana, Princess of Wales  (1961 - 1997) with dancer Wayne Sleep after a performance of 'Song and Dance' at the Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, England, April 1988.  (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana, Princess of Wales with dancer Wayne Sleep in April 1988. (Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

“Wayne Sleep speaks to the press and says it’s entirely her idea, the choice of the kind of dance. It was very flirty and silly.”

It comes as Netflix has rejected a request to add a disclaimer onto the show to tell viewers that not all the events portrayed really happened.

While the show overall is based on real events in British history, it can’t be known if most of the conversations between the characters really happened.

Several people have criticised the show in particular over season four, which covers the arrival of Princess Diana into the royal fold, during the Thatcher years.

Clarence House had to turn off its Twitter replies for a short period of time, as a large number of negative responses directed at Camilla were sent to them, following the depiction of Charles and Camilla’s relationship in the show.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said the streaming platform should add a disclaimer, but Netflix said the show was always billed as a drama.

Read more: The Crown: All the answers to every question you'll ask while watching season four

In the Lords at question time on Tuesday, Tory Lord Forsyth of Drumlean said Netflix had “arrogantly rejected the Secretary of State’s excellent request to make clear at the start of every programme that The Crown is a work of fiction”.

He went onto ask what action the government would take “to ensure that Netflix is regulated by Ofcom and is not free to present poisonous and mendacious material as fact”.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister Baroness Barran said Lord Forsyth had made his views “very clear”.

She said the advantage of the controversy surrounding the show had meant Netflix released a statement which said “this is indeed a fictionalised account”.

She added: “We are hopeful Netflix will reflect on this for future programmes to make sure that they serve their viewers to best effect.”

Seasons five and six of The Crown will take the Royal Family into the 1990s, but the show will end after season six.

Creator Peter Morgan has previously said he intends to keep a 20 year buffer on the show, to ensure distance and perspective on events.

Watch: Emma Corrin says The Crown will tackle Princess Diana's mental health struggles accurately