The thing about The Crown’s final season is that we’ve crept into territory covered by Prince Harry in Spare, a memoir which Peter Morgan claims he didn’t read (although the other writers and supervisors do admit to reading). Why would you want a fictionalized account of Harry and William’s relationship when Harry has written it out in his own voice? I guess Morgan’s belief – and the belief of most royal biographers – is that we should never allow a royal’s own words get in the way of the story they want to tell. Now, Season 6 of The Crown is very Sussex-coded, from QEII telling Tony Blair that royalty is a binary choice, you’re either in or you’re out. Diana and Dodi’s conversations about running off to California were also Sussex-coded. And now, with the final episodes, we’re seeing seeds of how Harry and William’s “feud” began:
Peter Morgan may have brought the curtain down on The Crown decades before Prince William and Harry’s real-life feud, but it has not stopped him from imagining the early signs of discontent between the brothers. The Crown’s final episode, now streaming on Netflix, foreshadows the cracks in their relationship as the two royals wrestle with adulthood and their royal duties.
The princes, played by Ed McVey (William) and Luther Ford (Harry), have a frosty exchange after being told by Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth II that their father Prince Charles (Dominic West) intends to marry Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams). Prince William is grudgingly accepting of the idea, recognizing that it is important for his father’s happiness as he prepares to ascend to the throne. Prince Harry is less keen and says nothing as his brother offers the Queen their blessing.
“I can’t believe you caved like that,” Harry snipes. “I didn’t cave, I’m just being a realist,” William replies as they look on at the Queen informing Prince Charles that he is free to wed. “Such a f***ing company man,” Harry remarks.
William and Harry are later imagined bickering over the dinner table on the eve of their father’s wedding. Harry accuses his sibling of “stabbing me in the back” following an incident in which he was pictured wearing a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, how many faces does this man have?” he asks.
In recent years, allies of the Duke of Sussex have accused Prince William of briefing against his younger brother in the press. This version of events was repeated recently by Omid Scobie, who is seen as close to Harry and Meghan, while promoting his book Endgame. “He’s sharing private information about his brother that ended up on the front page of a newspaper not long later,” Scobie said.
Back in The Crown’s finale, the Queen offers William some wisdom about his brother — and makes an apparent reference to Harry’s eventual exile. “Be kind to him,” she says. “In many ways, it’s harder being number two than number one. The system protects number one. Number two tends to … need extra care and attention.”
One thing this will hopefully give viewers and casual royal-watchers is the sense that William and Harry’s paths diverged long before Harry met Meghan. I mean, they would know that if they read Spare, but at least The Crown is showing it too, that they fought and disagreed and that there was always going to be a falling out at some point. Through Spare, we heard his perspective: that William was always jealous and competitive, and William never really looked out for him, then all of the Meghan stuff came much later. Perhaps this shows that QEII was mindful of the sibling dynamic and she wanted Harry to become “Margaret” to William’s QEII. Or something.
Photos courtesy of Netflix.
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