The Crown: Season 3 of Netflix drama depicts 'fictional' plot to split up Prince Charles and Camilla

Telegraph 2 weeks ago

Theirs is a relationship that has endured more than its fair share of drama.

So royal biographers have expressed incredulity that the makers of The Crown felt the need to embellish the true story of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s early romance with fictionalised scenes they warned “could cause a lot of damage”.

Viewers of the third series of the Netflix drama, released on November 17, will see the introduction of a young Camilla Shand as she begins dating the heir to the throne. But experts laughed off scenes that depict Lord Mountbatten and the Queen Mother colluding to stage an intervention in their burgeoning romance, forcibly splitting them up.

Christopher Wilson, author of A Greater Love - Charles and Camilla, said history would “find it difficult” to put the pair in the same room. “I don’t think the Queen Mother was any great fan of his,” he said.

“She always treated him with suspicion, always.”

He added: “I don’t know why (creator) Peter Morgan has taken this line. The story is good enough without embellishing it.”

Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles
Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles

Penny Junor, who has written biographies of both the Prince and the Duchess, suggested it was a clear use of “dramatic licence” that she feared could “cause a lot of damage”.

The storyline is one of several notable events the series explores during the period 1964 to 1977. Other episodes focus on the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster, after which the Queen was widely criticised for failing to immediately visit, the BBC’s doomed 1969 fly-on-the-wall documentary and the death in 1972 of the Duke of Windsor.

It sees Camilla, played by Emerald Fennell, make her debut as she and Prince Charles embark on their fledgling relationship.

But when the prince confides in his beloved great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, that “she’s the one” he panics, telling the Queen Mother he had only encouraged it to allow him to “sow his wild oats” not for a moment expecting him to develop feelings for her.

The pair hatch a plot to separate the pair for good, with Lord Mountbatten, played by Charles Dance, resolving to engineer an eight-month posting overseas to “bring him to his senses” whilst entrusting the Shand and Parker Bowles families to the Queen Mother.

Before long, Prince Charles is informed of his posting to the Caribbean and a wedding date is set for the then Miss Shand to marry Mr Parker Bowles.

Olivia Colman as the Queen
Olivia Colman as the Queen

The monarch, in turn, calls upon her mother and Lord Mountbatten to explain themselves,  telling them: “What if it is love? Shouldn't it be allowed to run its course? I was allowed to marry my choice.”

But the Queen Mother claims the system is too fragile to allow for “unpredictable” and “dangerous” elements.

Mr Wilson said the idea that such a plan was hatched to break the pair apart was laughable.

“I can discount them cooking up any kind of plot,” he said.

“By the time Camilla actually met Prince Charles she was already four years into a five-year campaign to get Andrew Parker Bowles up the aisle..

“When she met Prince Charles she was only a year or so away, or less than two from realising this ambition.”

He added: “Lord Mountbatten gave shelter and support to Prince Charles.

“He did not introduce him to Camilla or pull them apart. In that respect it’s entirely wrong. I don't think that he did that.

“The strength of his relationship with the future king lay in him saying ‘yes, yes, yes’ not ‘no, no no.”

Ms Junor said the Duchess was “potty” about Mr Parker Bowles when she met Prince Charles.

Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies as the Queen and Prince Philip
Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies as the Queen and Prince Philip

“He was a commanding officer, Charles was very much a work in progress at that point, there was no competition between the two men.” she told the Telegraph, adding that Mr Parker Bowles had repeatedly cheated on her and she was “perhaps hoping to make him a bit jealous”.

She said it was unlikely that Lord Mountbatten had arranged for him to be posted abroad.

“He had joined the Navy, he was assigned to a ship and that ship was going to the Caribbean,” she said.

“I have never heard (such a plot) suggested at all.”

The author said the storyline appeared to be “dramatic licence” adding; “That’s what terrifies me about the whole series. It can do a lot of damage.”

Mr Morgan has previously noted that The Crown is not a documentary, describing how his job is to “join the dots and “make some leaps of imagination”.

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