William vs. Harry on Netflix's use of Diana's BBC interview
Princess Diana (L), Prince Harry, (C) and Prince William (R) gather for the commemorations of VJ Day, 19 August 1995, in London.
Princess Diana (L), Prince Harry, (C) and Prince William (R) gather for the commemorations of VJ Day, 19 August 1995, in London.

While Prince Harry has spoken out against the media’s invasion of his privacy, and the toxicity in the press and social media directed against his wife, Meghan Markle, he has been mostly silent about the sometimes unflattering way Netflix shows have portrayed other members of his family, notably his beloved mother, Princess Diana.

Critics suggest that Harry’s silence has to do with the fact that he and Meghan have signed a $100 million production deal with the streaming giant, the Daily Beast’s writer Tom Sykes has reported. Sykes also wrote this week that Diana’s younger son is facing increasing pressure to end his silence over some of Netflix’s production choices.

These concerns have grown as it’s been revealed this week that the fifth season of “The Crown” will feature an entire episode devoted to his mother’s bombshell 1995 BBC interview with Martin Bashir. Among other things, the interview showed Diana discussing Prince Charles’ infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles, famously saying, “There were three of us in this marriage. It was a bit crowded.”

The interview was the subject of a damning inquiry that found that BBC and Bashir were “guilty of deceit.” Bashir had manipulated Diana into doing the interview by ordering up fake bank statements to stoke her paranoia that trusted members of her and her family’s staff was in the pay of the media and British security services.

Both Harry and his brother, Prince William, strongly condemned the BBC at the conclusion of the inquiry. Harry argued that the interview contributed to his mother’s death, saying the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life … Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.”

With news that the interview will become material for “The Crown’s” brand of high-brow historical drama, only William has expressed dismay, according to The Telegraph. The BBC, it should be noted, has not given permission for Netflix to use the content of the interview, over which it holds copyright, the Telegraph added.

The Duke of Cambridge is reportedly “frustrated” with Netflix’s plans to dramatize the interview, which he said has promoted a “false narrative” around his late mother’s life over the years, The Telegraph reported.

The brief courtship of a 19-year-old Diana and a 32-year-old Charles, and the early years of their tumultuous marriage, were depicted in season 4 of the “The Crown.” Season 5 is expected to follow Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki, through the infamous BBC interview, dramatize her 1996 divorce from Charles, played by Dominic West, and deal with her death in a 1997 Paris car crash.

William, Diana’s older son, has expressly condemned the “commercialization” of her legacy. He has also said that the BBC interview holds “no legitimacy” and is angry at broadcasters who have made money from the interview. Like Harry, he believes his mother was manipulated in her final years.

Of course, even William, as the future king of England, has no power to tell Netflix what to do. Harry doesn’t either, even as a Netflix partner.

Under “normal circumstances, it is “sensible” for both brothers to ignore the thousands of shows, books and newspaper articles that have used  or distorted their mother’s life over the years, according to the Daily Beast’s Sykes.

Netflix, with “The Crown” and other shows, has presented Harry with an unusual situation. Given his association with Netflix, his silence “is less straightforward,” Sykes said. Indeed, his silence gives ammunition to his critics to say he just doesn’t want any conflicts with a lucrative business partner.

In his only comments on “The Crown,” Harry tried to downplay any issues with how his  family is portrayed. During a friendly interview with James Corden, he tried to draw a distinction between the show’s depiction of his family, which is clearly fictional, and accounts in news and tabloid reports, which are supposed to be factually based.

Harry told Corden that “The Crown” is “loosely based on the truth. Of course it’s not strictly accurate.” He credited the show with offering a “rough idea” of the toll of “putting duty and service above family and everything else.”

Harry furthermore added: “I am way more comfortable with ‘The Crown’ than I am seeing stories written about my family or my wife. That is obviously fiction, take it how you will. But this is being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”

As Harry has defended “The Crown” for offering a “rough idea” of life, he faced criticism for remaining silent over another Netflix offering: a live version of “Diana: The Musical.” The Daily Beast called “Diana: The Musical” a widely pilloried Broadway show that “utterly traduces the life” of Harry’s mother.

The musical includes a showdown in a London basement between Diana and Camilla, and gives time to James Hewitt, the army officer who had an affair with Diana, the Daily Beast said.

Hewitt arrives in the story by declaring, “They’ll call me the randy stable boy.” According to the Daily Beast, the production continues in melodramatic style and ends with “the decidedly grim reality of Diana’s death in a Paris tunnel.”

Speaking of Hewitt, Diana acknowledged their affair in the BBC interview, which was devastating for William to view when he was 13, according to royal biographer Robert Lacey. The interview left William in tears, embarrassed in front of his schoolmates and fiercely angry at his mother.

In an earlier report for the Daily Beast, Sykes took Harry to task for not having anything to say about “Diana: The Musical,” which is a “crass attempt to cash in” on his mother’s life and death.