TV

The Crown's screenwriters in backstage bust-up over Princess Diana's portrayal in new series

THE screenwriters who tackled the romantic entanglements of Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown have been involved in a backstage bust-up over her portrayal in the new series.

Jemima Khan, a close front of Princess Diana's, was brought in to help Peter Morgan – theNetflix series creator – write the script detailing the last years before her death in a car crash in Paris in 1997.


However, she has now revealed that she pulled out of the project after claiming that the portrayal of Diana’s story was not being handled “as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped”. 

Khan and Morgan were briefly linked romantically, but broke up earlier this year.

She said she was asked by Morgan to help write the forthcoming fifth series in 2019. 

Before taking to the script role, Khan revealed: "It was really important to me that the final years of my friend’s life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past”.

Between September last year and February this year, they worked on story outlines and scripts, including Diana’s romances with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan and Harrods heir Dodi Fayed, as well as the bombshell BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.

Khan, though, said that when she realised the stories were going in a direction she did not agree with, she “requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a writing credit”.

Having been friends for years, Khan and Morgan became a couple late last year after he split from his partner of four years, the actress Gillian Anderson.

Khan and Morgan broke up in February and he rekindled his on-off relationship with Anderson, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the fourth series of The Crown.

Jemima Khan said: “In 2019, Peter Morgan asked me to co-write on the fifth series of The Crown, particularly those episodes which concerned Princess Diana’s last years before she died. 

“After a great deal of thought, having never spoken publicly about any of this before, I decided to contribute.”

It is not the first time that the portrayal of the royals in the series has courted controversy.

Last year Oliver Dowden, who was then the culture secretary, said that the series creators should warn viewers that the show is a drama, because “I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact”. 

Netflix declined to put a disclaimer on-screen and Morgan has described the show as “an act of creative imagination”.

Khan has not always been hostile to the Netflix show, however. 

She tweeted supportively of the fourth series last year, calling it the “best yet”, and praised the portrayal of Diana by Emma Corrin because she “captured all the magic of shy Di”.


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