The Royal Family are bracing themselves for ‘painful’ scenes showing Princess Diana appearing as a ghost in the final series of The Crown.
In the episode following her death in Paris, the late princess, played by Elizabeth Debicki, has an emotional reconciliation with a grieving Prince Charles, played by Dominic West in the controversial Netflix series, which will air from next month.
She tells him how ‘handsome’ he is and how much she loved him as he weeps with regret.
The imagined scene comes after Charles has been depicted sobbing over her body in a hospital morgue in Paris.
Diana tells him: ‘Thank you for how you were in the hospital. So raw, broken – and handsome. I’ll take that with me.
Princess Diana (pictured with Charles in 1981) will appear as a ghost to both her ex-husband and HM the Queen in extraordinary scenes in the forthcoming sixth and final series of Netflix drama The Crown
‘You know I loved you so much. So deeply, so painfully too. That’s over now. It will be easier for everyone with me gone.’
A Netflix source said that the appearances of Debicki as Diana after her death were ‘visualisations of innermost thoughts’ rather than intended to be interpreted as supernatural.
Buckingham Palace has refused to comment on the series, which has attracted both commercial success but also criticism for its historical inaccuracies and fictional liberties.
However, royal insiders suggested the latest instalment will likely be considered in poor taste, particularly as ‘deeply painful memories for members of the family are reduced to sensationalism’.
One source told the Mail it seemed the makers had ‘jumped the shark’, the description of a creative work which has exhausted itself and is reduced to seizing on gimmicks.
Another likened it to the ‘Bobby Ewing shower scene’ where the popular star of the 1980s soap Dallas was killed off, only for his wife to realise it was a dream when he walked out of the shower at the end of the series.
The drama will be broadcast in two parts, with the story up to Diana’s funeral streaming from November 16. The second installment, which concludes with the wedding of Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles, will stream from December 14.
As the show has moved towards the current era, it has been increasingly hit by charges of fictionalisation and wholesale reinterpretation of events.
In the last series, Charles was seen apparently plotting against his mother with Prime Minister John Major – leading to furious condemnation by Sir John among others.
This time around, the drama attempts to navigate the tragic early death of the princess, in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997. She was travelling in a car with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods boss Mohammed Al-Fayed.
The ghostly appearances, written by Crown creator Peter Morgan, are a bold dramatic stroke which appear to take on the critics of his ‘make believe’ head-on.
The late princess, played by actress Elizabeth Debicki (pictured), has an emotional reconciliation with a grieving Prince Charles, played by Dominic West
In the series Diana will appear to the Queen as she discusses plans for a state funeral with Prince Charles – and reduces the Queen to what looks like tears. Here she is pictured with the late monarch in 1987
Diana appears to the Queen as she discusses plans for a state funeral with Prince Charles – and reduces the Queen to what looks like tears.
The two women hold hands as the monarch tells the princess that she has started a ‘revolution’ with the public mourning her in the streets.
Diana tells her: ‘I know it must be terrifying… As long as anyone can remember you’ve taught us what it means to be British. Maybe its time to show you’re ready to learn too.’
This is suggested to be the prompt which made the Queen change her mind about travelling from Balmoral to London and famously addressing the nation.
She said: ‘We have all been trying in our different ways to cope. I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.’
Last autumn Netflix bowed to pressure and started to preface the show with a disclaimer which runs: ‘Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.’
The drama will be broadcast in two parts, with the story up to Diana’s funeral streaming from November 16. William, Harry and Charles are pictured at the event in 1997
In the Netflix scene, the two women hold hands as the Queen tells Diana that she has started a ‘revolution’ with the public mourning her in the streets. The late monarch is pictured at Diana’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in 1997
Executives insisted at the Edinburgh TV festival in August this year that the depiction of Diana’s death had been done with the utmost sensitivity. The princess is pictured in 1994
Charles’s relationship with Camilla is the dominant storyline of the coming series, and his efforts to persuade his family, and the country, to accept her. It closes with their wedding in April 2005.
The Crown, created and written by Morgan, has been a hit for Netflix since it was first released in 2016. The show has won 21 Emmy awards and seven Golden Globes — including prizes for Queens Claire Foy and Olivia Colman; and for Morgan’s girlfriend Gillian Anderson, who played Margaret Thatcher.
Executives insisted at the Edinburgh TV festival in August this year that the depiction of Diana’s death had been done with the utmost sensitivity.
Producer Suzanne Mackie said: ‘The show might be big and noisy, but we’re not. We’re thoughtful people and we’re sensitive people. There were very careful, long conversations about how we were going to do it.
‘The audience will judge it, in the end. But I think it’s been delicately, thoughtfully recreated. Elizabeth Debicki is an extraordinary actress and she was so thoughtful and considerate. She loved Diana. There’s a huge amount of respect from us all. I hope that’s evident.’
In an earlier interview Morgan admitted to ‘unavoidable accuracy blips’ but said: ‘I’m absolutely fastidious about there being an underlying truth.’
Morgan is understood to be considering ideas for a prequel series or film series which would begin the story with the death of Queen Victoria.