Did the new season of The Crown really imply that Prince Philip played a role in the death of Princess Diana? Debatable, for certain, but some commentators believe that was the intention of a tense scene in the season 4 finale.
Royal biographer Hugo Vickers is among those condemning the scene, which he believes "supports" the rumour of Philip's involvement in Diana's death. Here's a breakdown of the scene that Vickers called "wretched and disgraceful" in a new Daily Mail article.
The Crown season 4: The Prince Philip-Princess Diana scene
In the season 4 finale of The Crown, Philip (Tobias Menzies) joins Diana (Emma Corrin) in her bedroom at Sandringham on the night of Christmas 1990—at which time her and Charles's marriage is hanging by a thread.
Philip first attempts to comfort Diana on the Royal Family's cold tendencies and assure her that Charles will come around. She responds to her father-in-law by saying: "We're past that point now."
Diana continues, "If he—if this family—can't give me the love and security that I feel I deserve, then I believe that I have no option but to break away, officially."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Philip responds. "Let's just say, I can't see it ending well for you," he adds, in the ambiguous line that's generated controversy. Diana answers him, "I hope that isn't a threat, sir."
They then discuss their differences, with Philip speaking on how the monarchy makes all family members "outsiders" in their dutiful support of the Queen above all. The nearly face-to-face scene ends with an icy stare, as Philip and Diana head to pose for the family photograph—of a starkly different tone than the one that ended season 2.
The Crown: Biographer calls out "lie" about Prince Philip
Hugo Vickers, a noted royal biographer, wrote on this scene for Daily Mail, calling it the "cruellest lie." He said: "Who can be in any doubt that this fictional conversation is a thinly veiled and chilling reference to Diana's impending death.
"It supports the scarcely credible rumours, still fuelled by the internet, that Diana's fatal car crash in a tunnel in Paris in 1997 was a murderous 'hit' ordered by Prince Philip and designed to look like an accident."
The piece sparked strong reactions and swayed some commenters to reconsider the scene, while others believe his reading was a misrepresentation of the scene. Others, still, wanted criticism shifted to Prince Harry's continued involvement with Netflix despite such content on The Crown.
Vickers, who once wrote a biography of Prince Andrew (Philip's father), also defended the Duke of Edinburgh, writing: "Prince Philip had a good bond with Diana, who affectionately called him Pa, and he worked hard to see if there was a way that Charles and she might be reconciled."
Perhaps more than any other, season 4 of The Crown has generated controversy on points of historical accuracy. See a full fact-check here and why Charles Spencer criticized the season as well.