Prince Philip was upset about 'malicious' episode of The Crown

Prince Philip was upset about ‘shockingly malicious’ episode of The Crown, says Royal biographer

  • Royal biographers Sally Bedell Smith and Hugo Vickers say Prince Philip was ‘very upset’ over several scenes in the Netflix drama, The Crown  
  • Upsetting scenes included fallout of the death of Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, and ‘complete fantasy’ of implied affair with ballerina Galina Ulanova  
  • Renewed calls made for Netflix to apologise and add a disclaimer to the series 

Prince Philip was upset by a ‘shockingly malicious’ episode of The Crown in which his father angrily blamed him for his sister’s death in a plane crash, according to two Royal biographers.

The respected authors said Philip had been hurt by the manner in which the 1937 death of Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark had been depicted in the drama – and renewed calls for Netflix to apologise and add a disclaimer.

Slurs during the first four series include the suggestions that the Prince was a serial philanderer who had an affair with a ballerina, was involved in the Profumo sex scandal and delivered a menacing threat to Princess Diana.

Prince Philip was reportedly upset by the way that the death of his sister Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark was depicted in the Netflix drama, The Crown

Producers of The Crown said on Friday they were ‘deeply saddened’ by his death, while actors Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies – who both played Philip over the four series – paid their own tributes. But the drama’s creator, Peter Morgan, and Netflix fell silent this weekend when asked if they would apologise for the portrayal of Philip.

Sally Bedell Smith, who published a bestselling biography of the Queen, said the ‘most egregious’ falsehood involved a scene in the second series during which Philip’s father, Prince Andrew, blames his son for Cecilie’s death.

According to the show, Philip was meant to visit her in Germany but was forbidden from going after getting into trouble at Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Cecilie decided instead to fly to England, but her plane hit a factory chimney in Belgium and crashed, killing her, her husband, their two sons and unborn baby boy, and her mother-in-law.

Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark (pictured) died in an air crash in 1937

At Cecilie’s funeral in Germany, Prince Andrew is shown confronting Philip, saying: ‘You are the reason we are all here, burying my favourite child.’

Ms Bedell Smith, 72, said Philip ‘had nothing to do with his sister’s death’ and there was no rift with his father after the tragedy. ‘Cecilie did die in an air crash but that’s the only thing that was true,’ she added. ‘Everything else was invented in a shockingly malicious way.’

The author has been told by Royal sources that Philip was made aware of the hurtful storyline, although both he and the Queen refused to watch the drama. ‘The whole thing about Cecilie, which he did learn about, was terribly upsetting to him,’ she said. ‘They [Netflix] should emphatically apologise and I think a disclaimer is necessary more than ever. Now that he is gone, what they have done to his reputation is in even sharper relief.’ 

Hugo Vickers, a Royal biographer who has dissected The Crown’s falsehoods, described the depiction of Cecilie’s death as ‘disgraceful’, adding that Philip had been ‘very upset’ about it.

‘How disgraceful it was [of The Crown] to turn Prince Philip into a caricature person – never doing any work in the series. The depiction was cruel and deeply unfair. The least Netflix could do was to alert viewers with a disclaimer.’

Chris Parry, a retired Royal Navy commander who studied the 1937 plane crash as part of a PhD, said its depiction in The Crown was ‘outrageous’, adding: ‘It was rubbish. This man had integrity. This generation has forgotten just what people stood for in his generation.’

Cecilie, her husband, two sons and an unborn baby boy’s funeral was depicted in the show

Another falsehood in The Crown is an implied affair between Philip and ballerina Galina Ulanova. While Ms Ulanova was a real dancer, performing acclaimed lead roles in Swan Lake and Romeo And Juliet, there is no evidence of an affair with the Duke.

‘It was complete fantasy,’ said Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. ‘He never even met the ballet dancer.’

In the final episode of The Crown’s latest series, Philip is shown threatening Diana at Sandringham in 1990. 

Diana, played by Emma Corrin, is seen telling her father-in-law that her marriage to Prince Charles is a ‘dark, loveless cave’ and she wants to ‘break away’.

Philip menacingly says ‘I can’t see it ending well for you’, prompting Diana to reply: ‘I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir.’

In the final episode of The Crown’s latest series, Philip (portrayed by Tobias Menzies) is shown threatening Diana (portrayed by Emma Corrin) at Sandringham in 1990 

Former Culture Secretary Karen Bradley urged Netflix to correct its error of not attaching a disclaimer stating that the drama is a work of fiction, not fact.

‘While Prince Philip was still alive, Netflix badly misrepresented the behaviour and conduct of this noble and dignified man,’ she said.

‘Now that he has died, the least they can do is to make amends by acknowledging that the picture of the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown was unjust and, in many respects, simply fictional.

‘Netflix should also add a health warning to previous and future episodes so that viewers know that what they are watching is not an accurate and faithful account of the Royal Family.’

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