The Crown: ‘Camilla Wasn’t A Marriage Wrecker – She Was Just A Woman In Love’

Stars Dominic West and Olivia Williams – who play Charles and Camilla in season five – discuss Diana, divorce and ‘sordid’ scenes.

The Crown Season 5

by Hanna Woodside |
Published on

With season five of The Crown just over a week away, the debate over whether it’s too soon for Peter Morgan’s fictionalised royal drama to return to screens - given the Queen’s death this September - rumbles on. Even Dame Judi Dench has weighted in calling the show 'crude' and 'cruel'.

With the action now moving to the 90s – a particularly turbulent decade for the royals – the new season of The Crown will depict some uncomfortable moments for the Windsors, including Charles and Diana’s very public divorce. And allegedly, the palace is concerned at how our new King will be portrayed.

So, what do the stars of the show think? At a roundtable interview Dominic West, who plays Charles in the new season, defended the timing of the show. ‘I think it makes it rather poignant,’ he said. ‘There’s been an uptake in people watching previous seasons of The Crown since the funeral. It’s obviously something that people are going to for information because they want to know more about the royals – but also probably for comfort, and to remember the Queen’s life.’

He added: ‘The Crown always opens in November and it doesn’t seem too soon to me – in fact, I think the appetite is greater for it as a result.’

The Crown Charles & Camilla

As for how the divorce will be portrayed, Dominic believes The Crown will be ‘more even-handed and fairer than the newspaper coverage at the time’. Olivia Williams, who takes over from Emerald Fennell to play Camilla in season five, agrees saying, ‘I don’t think it’s something the Palace should be frightened of. Peter Morgan is very careful to always turn these events back to how they affect the crown [not the individuals]. The series if called The Crown, not Charles or Diana.’

West added: ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the time, when we were thinking about this divorce as it happened – there was an enormous sense of grievance in the public that this fairy-tale had been destroyed. I think now we realise Camilla was not a marriage breaker, she was not someone who was trying to deny us this fairy tale – she was just someone who was in love.’

Camilla, now the Queen Consort, has always been a divisive figure due to her role in the breakdown of Charles and Diana’s marriage. But Olivia believes the new season will dispel ‘the trope of the marriage breaker that the press fed at the time’.

‘Anybody who has a perspective on divorce knows that the whole blame game becomes irrelevant,’ says Olivia. ‘And maybe now we see that [Charles and Diana’s] marriage wasn’t a great idea in the first place. I say that without any disrespect to any of the families involved – as Dominic says, hindsight is a valuable thing.’

The Crown Season 5

Reportedly, season five of The Crown will include a recreation of the infamous ‘tampon-gate’ phone call, when intimate conversations between Charles and Camilla were leaked – no doubt a moment that the royals would rather forget.

‘Back then, a lot of what we learn about Charles and Camilla seemed in some way sordid, or not very appealing,’ says Dominic. ‘Very often it was a gross invasion of their privacy which feels very squeamish now – when you could read the text of their phone conversations, or ring up a hotline and listen to their phone conversations.’

Despite this, both Dominic and Olivia were struck by the romance between Charles and Camilla. ‘What we learnt playing those times and those events – was how actually rather sweet they were together and how romantic it was,’ says Dominic.

Cringe phone calls aside, another tricky dynamic the new season of The Crown will address is Charles’ supposed frustration at being the heir-in-waiting, and the tension this apparently caused between him and the Queen. ‘What Peter [Morgan] was interested in showing was the frustration of a man in his prime. Who feels he has a lot to contribute… and that he’s unable to do that, because he has to be obedient to his mother,’ Dominic says – while acknowledging there are some ‘pretty punchy’ scenes between the two.

But the most surprising thing he learnt about Charles while filming the new season? ‘I couldn’t believe how many clothes he wears – and how often he changes them!’ Dominic revealed. ‘I was pretty amazed at the sartorial demands made of our King.’

The Crown returns to Netflix on 9 November

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About The Crown Season 5

READ MORE: How Do The On-Screen Outfits In The Crown Compare To The Real Ones Worn By Princess Diana?

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