Fictional takes on royal families have always had their fair share of ghosts, from Banquo’s haunting of Macbeth to Hamlet’s spectral father. But those phantoms are from long ago, making them notably uncontroversial figures. The same can’t be said for Princess Diana, whose death still remains fresh for many royal watchers—and whose family still mourns her passing. That might be why some UK residents and her family are reportedly aghast at rumors that the next season of Netflix series The Crown will feature the Princess of Wales in spirit form.
Earlier this week, news broke that the two-part final season of The Crown will span events from 1997-2005, as the family recovers from Diana’s death (as depicted in season five). According to the Daily Mail, that includes a scene in which a ghostly Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) appears to Prince—now King—Charles (Dominic West), telling him, “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.”
In another scene, she reportedly appears to Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton), telling her, “I know it must be terrifying… As long as anyone can remember, you’ve taught us what it means to be British. Maybe it’s time to show you’re ready to learn, too.”
An unnamed friend of King Charles and Queen Camilla says the couple is unconcerned by the rumors of a phantom princess. The pair “don’t really care,” the friend told The Daily Beast. “It’s pretty ridiculous at this stage anyway. I think the program has lost the credibility it had in the early years.”
Prince William, however, appears less comfortable with the fictional take on his family, especially when it comes to his late mother. “It’s incredibly hurtful to have his mother exploited over and over again in this tawdry fashion by Netflix,” an unnamed intimate of his tells The Daily Beast. “He won’t watch it, but he will be totally sickened by it.”
A spokesperson for Netflix takes issue with any potential upset, the Independent reports. “These sensitive and thoughtful imagined conversations seek to bring to life the depth of emotion that was felt after such a seismic tragedy struck at the heart of the family,” an unnamed spokesperson for the streamer says.
“After her death, Diana appears as part of an inner dialogue in separate scenes with Prince Charles and the Queen, who are both reflecting on their relationship with the late Princess.”
While these fictional ghosts might quite understandably give Diana’s survivors pause, it’s also worth noting that the Winsdors have a history of receiving messages from the beyond. It’s long been rumored that Charles’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was visited by the spirit of Elizabeth I (who died in 1603) while in the library room at Windsor Castle. Then, during Queen Elizabeth’s funeral ceremony at Westminster Abbey, social media users mistook a plume from a helmet of one of the King’s Body Guards of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms as a spectral figure.
Even Sarah Ferguson, the former spouse of Elizabeth’s embattled son, Prince Andrew, is privy to ghostly encounters, it appears. In March, the Duchess of York told People that she adopted the Queen’s corgis, Sandy and Muick, after Elizabeth’s passing. The pups are “total joys,” she said, before elaborating on their mystical powers. “I always think that when they bark at nothing, and there’s no squirrels in sight, I believe it’s because the Queen is passing by.”
The first part of The Crown’s sixth and final season will be released on Netflix on Nov. 16.
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