Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl had a lengthy story about the Duchess of Cornwall/Camilla Parker Bowles and The Crown, a story which I’m breaking up into two posts because it’s kind of bonkers and all over the place. At one point, Nicholl’s sources claim that Camilla is a fan of The Crown and that she’ll watch Season 4 out of curiosity. But then the rest of the VF piece is just Clarence House doing damage control about the absolutely correct narratives in this season of the series, namely that Charles and Windsors left Diana out in the cold, that they didn’t look after this young woman, that they are a toxic cesspool of dysfunction. But what of Camilla? What of Camilla’s role in all of this? Well, of course there’s some revisionist history, courtesy of royal historian Sally Bedell Smith, who spoke at length to Katie Nicholl.
According to royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith, who has written biographies of the Queen, Prince Charles and Diana, the portrayal of Charles and Camilla’s relationship is largely fictitious and could be “uncomfortable viewing” for the future king and his wife.
“Because The Crown is such a lavish and expensive production, so beautifully acted and cleverly written, and so much attention has been paid to visual details about historical events, viewers are tricked into believing that what they are seeing actually happened,” Bedell Smith told Vanity Fair. “While the earlier seasons were period pieces, this is recent history, so it seems more cruel in its false depictions.”
While Bedell Smith concedes that Charles really was that hesitant about marrying Diana, she believes from her extensive research that Charles was committed to making the marriage work. “Peter Morgan has created his own personal narrative of Charles and Camilla’s relationship that is largely fictional. If Diana had been grounded and confident and clever, her other good qualities such as her sense of humor and natural warmth could have won Charles over in a heartbeat, and Camilla would have been history. Charles actually appreciated Diana’s quick wit; during the engagement, he wrote to his grandmother about how funny Diana was.”
She continued, “He did not enter into the marriage cynically, thinking he could keep a mistress on the side. He was telling the truth when he said to Jonathan Dimbleby on camera in 1994 that he had remained faithful to his wedding vows until his marriage to Diana became ‘irretrievably broken down’ in 1986, when he resumed his intimate relationship with Camilla. It’s fair to say that between 1981 and 1986, Charles and Camilla were in telephone contact when he was in distress and needed a sympathetic ear, but their physical relationship was in abeyance for five years.”
Given that the fourth season will dredge up much of the misery and animosity of the past, Bedell Smith believes The Crown could “inflict some serious damage” for the monarchy.
“When I watched the relatively sympathetic depiction of Charles and Camilla in season three, I figured season four would lower the boom on both of them,” she said. “Charles and Camilla have come a long way with all their hard work, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Camilla in particular has transformed herself from a woman scorned to someone widely admired for her charitable work and respected for assuming her royal role with a genuine commitment. People have come to regard her as a good egg, and to accept the idea of her being queen consort. Because viewers believe incorrectly that The Crown is true, this season in particular could undo all the good feelings about Charles and Camilla and resurrect the hostility from two decades ago. It will also reinforce the false mythology that Diana was the sainted victim.”
While I agree that Peter Morgan was likely playing fast and loose with Charles and Camilla’s physical relationship in the early years of his marriage to Diana, these people are still gaslighting Diana IN HER GRAVE. Diana was not the most educated or clever woman in the world, but she knew what was going on with Charles and Camilla very early on. Even if you make the argument that Charles and Camilla weren’t having a physical affair for the first few years of his marriage, he was still having an emotional affair with Camilla throughout and Diana KNEW it. Diana knew that Charles’ heart belonged to Camilla. Not to mention that Charles and Camilla were completely wrapped up in each other during his courtship with Diana. Besides, while I believe that Charles “gave his marriage a chance” for a year or two, his physical affair with Camilla restarted a lot faster than he’s ever admitted. And Diana knew that sh-t too.
Also, this is just so nasty: “If Diana had been grounded and confident and clever, her other good qualities such as her sense of humor and natural warmth could have won Charles over in a heartbeat, and Camilla would have been history.” Sure, it’s all Diana’s fault that Charles cheated on her and mistreated her! She was never good enough! Jeez, do these people listen to themselves?
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