While Peter Morgan and The Crown are always a tad too generous with how they cast the “Prince Charles” role, they’ve gotten it bang-on with casting actresses for Camilla Parker Bowles. Emerald Fennell played Camilla in Seasons 3 and 4, and I thought she was great at showing why she would appeal to Charles, and she showed Camilla as a real schemer too, manipulating both Diana and Charles. In the two new seasons, Camilla is played by Olivia Williams and once again, inspired casting. They tossed an unkempt ashy-blonde wig on Olivia and told her not to moisturize and it’s PERFECT. In Season 5, you really get how Camilla was just, at that time, a suburban mom with connections, openly carrying on with a married man. According to Dominic West and Olivia, Camilla is a sympathetic figure because… she was just a woman in love, and sometimes life is messy, I guess.
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.’
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.
I genuinely disagree with this, but I find it interesting that Olivia and Dominic both seem to be arguing that the “original sin” was Charles and Diana’s marriage in the first place, that they were unsuited for each other and they both had every right to look elsewhere. But what I’m reminded of is not that Charles simply wanted to have an affair with Camilla, it’s that he was in love with Camilla throughout his courtship with Diana and throughout their marriage. Camilla was the “original sin” of Charles and Diana’s marriage. Camilla kept him trapped, but make no mistake, Charles kept going back to Camilla by his own choice too. People always criticize Diana for not being “okay” with Charles cheating on her, but it was perfectly clear that Charles was incapable of keeping up with the appearance of a happy marriage. It wasn’t enough that he was unfaithful, it was also that he treated Diana like sh-t, publicly and privately. Camilla knew exactly what she was doing too. Anyway! Rottweiler Apologia, I think not.
Photos courtesy of Netflix/The Crown.