Dominic West, who plays Prince Charles in Netflix’s hit drama The Crown, said recreating an infamous scandal left him feeling “extremely sympathetic” towards the royal.
The fifth season of The Crown is set to chronicle one of the most turbulent periods in recent royal history.
Picking up the saga in the early 90s, the latest instalment of Netflix’s lavish drama lands on the streaming service on 9 November and will focus on the breakdown of Prince Charles’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales. Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki will star as the unhappy couple, picking up the baton from season four standouts Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin.
As well as dramatising the events leading up to Diana’s notorious Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, when the princess famously alluded to her husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles (now the Queen Consort) by stating that “there were three of us in this marriage”, West has now confirmed that the show will also feature another scandalous moment – one that might just make you cringe…
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, West revealed that season five will recreate the infamous ‘tampongate’ incident of 1993, when a recording of an intimate conversation between Charles and Camilla (captured by an amateur radio operator, no less) was leaked to the press.
In the tapes, Charles could be heard telling Camilla that he wanted to “live inside” her trousers and joking that he could be reincarnated as her tampon.
West told the magazine that he and co-star Olivia Williams, who has taken over the role of Camilla from Emerald Fennell, re-enacted the phone call – and in doing so, his attitude towards the scandal shifted significantly, leaving him “extremely sympathetic towards the two of them and what they’d gone through”.
“I remember thinking it was something so sordid and deeply, deeply embarrassing [at the time],” he said. “Looking back on it, and having to play it, what you’re conscious of is that the blame was not with these two people, two lovers, who were having a private conversation.”
“What’s really [clear now] is how invasive and disgusting was the press’s attention to it, that they printed it out verbatim and you could call a number and listen to the actual tape.”
He and Williams, he added, both “felt the odds were slightly stacked against [Charles and Camilla’s] relationship and we wanted to try and bring it across in as sympathetic a light as we could.”
One of Debicki’s biggest moments in new series, meanwhile, will see her don a replica of Diana’s so-called ‘revenge dress’, the off-the-shoulder Christina Stambolian gown that the princess wore to a party at the Serpentine Gallery on the same night Charles confessed to infidelity in a TV documentary, telling the nation that their marriage had “irretrievably broken down”.
“It fascinated me how entranced people were with that dress,” Debicki told Entertainment Weekly. “When it became known that I had the part, I received these text messages saying congratulations, [but] there was also a huge amount of text messages about the revenge dress.”
She added that wearing a replica of the dress “felt very significant and quite powerful, but also it provoked something in me as an actor. I can’t really explain it. It’s pretty incredible that a dress would represent a moment in history, or that this human’s life would represent so much and become so iconic.”
West and Debicki aren’t the only new faces in the fifth season. The Crown replaces its entire cast every two seasons, to better reflect the royals as they age, and this time around Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth II, taking over the role from Olivia Colman, with Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip (replacing Tobias Menzies).
Lesley Manville will play the Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, a role held by Helena Bonham Carter in seasons three and four.
As the show moves into the 90s, there will be new politicians on the scene too, with Jonny Lee Miller playing Conservative prime minister John Major and Bertie Carvel appearing as Tony Blair.
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