Prince Philip consulted lawyers & considered suing ‘The Crown’ over one episode

The Sunday Times had a new story about how much the Windsors hate The Crown. Someone must have gotten it through King Charles’s thick skull that his whining was unnecessary and petty, because now the palace machinery is leaning into “other members of the family hated the series too!” People like… Prince Philip, who has been portrayed by a variety of actors in a number of storylines throughout all of the seasons. In one storyline in Season 2 – the episode “Paterfamilias” – they focused on the death of Philip’s sister Princess Cecile, who died in a plane crash in November 1937. The Crown showed Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece, blaming the then-teenaged Philip for Cecile’s death. In any case, Philip considered suing The Crown and we’re only hearing about it now. Plus, there are quotes about Prince William.

Philip considered suing: The Duke of Edinburgh spoke to his lawyers about suing Netflix over a false portrayal of him in The Crown that left him deeply “upset”. Prince Philip consulted Farrer & Co, the blue-blooded law firm that has advised the royal family since the 1930s, after the series featured a plotline about the death of his older sister, Princess Cecilie. Hugo Vickers, a royal historian and author, said: “I know Prince Philip consulted his lawyer about it, to ask ‘What can I do about it?’ He was very upset about the way that was portrayed. He was human. He could be hurt like anybody else.”

Philip was very upset about that episode in particular: While staying with the Queen and Philip, a close friend of the royal family said Philip had expressed anger at his portrayal. “I remember sitting next to the Duke of Edinburgh at a dinner, and him being so upset about it and what it [The Crown] was saying about him.”

Never complain, never explain: Vickers, the author of The Crown Dissected, which sets out errors in the series, said: “[Philip] was not displeased when I put the record straight.” Philip chose not to pursue legal action and the long-held royal mantra of “never complain, never explain” prevailed.

Prince William is also very engorged with rage: It can also be revealed that the Prince of Wales believes The Crown is “damaging” to the royal family. A close friend of Prince William said he found the fallout from the series increasingly difficult as the events portrayed come closer to the present day. The friend said: “He has spoken about it, and now, as it is coming closer to the present, he is particularly concerned about it. William does think it is damaging. The royal family know a lot of it is nonsense, but it is really harsh and hurtful.”

[From The Sunday Times]

Again, “this makes the Windsors look bad” is not a real critique of any piece of art, certainly not a dramatization of the Windsors actual lives and experiences. The Crown’s intention isn’t “to make the Windsors look good,” although there were much fewer complaints about The Crown when everyone was enjoying Claire Foy as a young, pretty queen. What’s interesting about Philip’s complaints in particular about the “Paterfamilias” episode is that it was one of the most sympathetic episodes for Charles – Peter Morgan really captured how much Charles hated Gordonstoun, how it was the wrong school for a sensitive, book-loving child, and that Philip bullied the f–k out of Charles from a young age.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid, The Windsors.

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32 Responses to “Prince Philip consulted lawyers & considered suing ‘The Crown’ over one episode”

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  1. kelleybelle says:

    Why? Did they get too close to the truth?

  2. what's inside says:

    “really harsh and hurtful”?????!!!!! This sums up that family’s history perfectly.

  3. Lauren42 says:

    I mean, of course it’s damaging to the Royal Family. The RF has done damaging things and now people are going to hear about it. I’ve finished the season and I thought it was FAR MORE sympathetic to the RF than it needed to be. They should be breathing a sigh of relief right now, not… whatever this is.

  4. Becks1 says:

    I thought the Paterfamilias episode was one of the best ones in the whole series. Yes, it showed how bad a fit Gordonstoun was for Charles, but it also showed what a good fit it was for Philip and why. It gave context to so much of Philip’s actions and life IMO.

    I thought if anything, it put Philip’s treatment of Charles into context – Philip insisted on Charles going to Gordonstoun because of what Gordonstoun had meant to him and how it had positively impacted his life. It wasn’t some dark ploy to torture Charles.

    BUT it also showed how little Philip understood his son or how little he cared about what was actually best for Charles. Just because something is good for a parent doesn’t mean it will be good for their child. And I think it shows that Philip had disdain for Charles because he thought Gordonstoun would change him and make him more like Philip.

    Anyway glad to see that cooler heads prevailed and Philip did not sue. Lordy this family. My guess is the Crown is hitting closer to the mark than some of us realize and that’s why the royal family is reacting the way it is.

    • Amy Bee says:

      That episode had me feeling sorry for Charles.

      • Becks1 says:

        It really did. Even with what I said above how it put Philip into context, it still made me feel sorry for Charles because he had parents who did not “see” him and did not understand him.

        Plus, Gordonstoun looked freaking miserable.

  5. Lurker25 says:

    It just hit me that Phillip bullied Charles out of jealousy.
    S1 and S2 repeatedly show how emasculated Phillip felt that Elizabeth was Queen but he couldn’t be king. The kids wouldn’t have his name, etc.

    Then comes along his son, the “wet” sad sack whiner, who WOULD get the crown, the power, the top dog status. His son would get by birthright all the things he wanted but couldn’t have.

    Some parents feel proud when their kids get what they couldn’t. Some parents feel jealous.

    [And suddenly, Charlie’s petty jealousy if his own sons shifts into place]

    This family. Harry really speaks only the truth. Inherited generational trauma.

    • GirlMonday says:

      Comment of the week right here.
      Too bad CB doesn’t have DM or I’d be messaging you for therapy, lol. You’d have my bu11$h!t sorted in 3 visits!

  6. ML says:

    Spielberg has a movie, The Fabelmans, coming out. Weird Al has a fictitious movie based on “facts” out as well. The Kennedy family had both JFK and Jackie. Instead of having a hissy fit, why not put out a “royal” fake-real version of events? Then they control the story. Good grief these people are whiny!

    • Penguin says:

      Speilberg is directing The Fablemans so it’s entirely from his perspective. The Weird Al movie is working with Al on the script and he even produced some music for it. And Jacke and JFK are both long dead. They don’t owe the narrative of their private family dynamics to anyone for the sake of entertainment.

    • SomeChick says:

      that Weird Al movie is fantastic! not sure if it was covered here and I missed it, but while we’re on the subject… they did an amazing job and it is hilarious. Daniel Radcliffe and Evan Rachel Woods both knocked it out of the park. it’s tight and poppy and well styled. and free to watch!

  7. Rocky says:

    I thought in the current season that the Queen and Charles are coming off far more sympathetically than they could have been. The crown is doing them a favor if anything

  8. HandforthParish says:

    He specifically complained about the fact that in the episode he was shown to have indirectly caused the death of his favourite sister- she flies to the UK to visit him after he’s misbehaved at school and ends up dying in a plane crash (apparently having given birth mid-flight- she was found dead with her infant child in her arms).
    Philip never really got over the death of his sister apparently, and making up a plot about him being the cause of her visit was his issue.

    Nothing to do with his treatment of Charles in the episode, or the series.

    • Eurydice says:

      I thought she was flying to the UK for her brother-in-law’s wedding. Her whole family was on the plane, too – don’t see where Philip comes into this.

    • Jaded says:

      She and her family were flying to the UK for her brother-in-law Prince Louis’ wedding when their plane clipped a chimney trying to land in thick fog. Everyone on board was killed. She didn’t have the baby on the plane, she was 8 months pregnant when the crash happened.

      • Emmi says:

        She didn’t? I just googled it and it’s all over a variety of sources.

        Paterfamilias was a great episode and showed why Philipp was such a terrible snob, constantly needing to stress the RF is better than everyone.

    • HandforthParish says:

      Plane crashed because she went into labour unexpectedly- plane did a detour and crashed- when they found the bodies she was holding the baby so clearly gave birth prior to crash.

  9. Jessamine says:

    Haven’t watched it in a couple years, so my recollection could be hazy, but how exactly does that episode infer Phillip caused the death of his sister? I mean, the takeaway was that it was a horrific, coincidental accident. His father’s blame shows his father is a monster not that Phillip was culpable.

    • Kelley says:

      Allegedly, in the episode Phillip was supposed to go to her in Germany but because he misbehaved, she instead got on the plan to go to the wedding.

  10. Penguin says:

    If anyone should sue it ought to be Diana’s family as she came off absolutely awful in the last season. They portrayed her as completely unhinged and winey.

  11. Cq says:

    Maybe I’m being too optimistic (or pessimistic lol) for thinking that The Crown is not going to portray Will and Kate negatively. I think it may “wink” at some moments that have been reported constantly, like Kate in that fashion show or Will chasing other women first, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything they should worry about. I don’t think it’s anything royal watchers should be excited about, if they’re expecting the couple to be embarrassed. They’re already pretty sympathetic to Charles and there’s a lot said about him-I’ve a feeling they’re going to play a sympathetic angle to the young Will and Kate story. Especially since she’s not upper class and TC loves delving into class issues.

  12. Bookie says:

    I’m only into the fifth episode, but I feel they’ve gone out of their way to make Charles more sympathetic and Diana more unhinged. Charles actually comes across as decent in several episodes and I am NOT a fan of Charles.

  13. sparrow says:

    I’ve only watched series 4 in readiness for 5, and I binged it across two days. I’ve never paid any attention to The Crown, but all the hoohah that’s gone on recently MADE me watch it. I’m not alone amongst my friends, who’ve never bothered with The Crown before. And of course it has brought back all the memories of Charles and Camilla and their behaviour towards Diana. This is the last thing the new king and queen consort wanted, hence their anger, but they’ve driven lots of people right back into the past.

  14. one of the marys says:

    off topic but I’m so impressed with the acting throughout the series. When Boris Yeltsin is trash talking the Palace the look on his wife’s face is perfect. She’s shown for 10 seconds but she nails it. At some event John Major and spouse pass each other in the crowd and share a look. I could totally believe those two are married and share their own language. It’s the great acting in every role that’s elevating this series for me

  15. sparrow says:

    That family photo is weird. Kate looks like she’s been added later, so does William a bit. She is so photoshopped and bright that she looks like a cardboard cut out.

    • SarahCS says:

      Agree and I was reflecting that I barely recognised her against how she looks today! We all age but there’s more than that here.

      If you told me that was Davina McCall I’d believe you.

      • Pam says:

        I know! I didn’t recognize her at first. I thought she was some other relative with a baby. 🤣🤣🤣

    • BeanieBean says:

      I like that photo! The Queen and baby Charlotte are sharing a look! I think it’s sweet. And Kate & William seem to have natural unforced smiles.

  16. CourtneyB says:

    Cecile was Philip’s favorite sister. He didn’t just lose her in the crash, her two boys were with her as well. They were going to be pages in their paternal uncle’s wedding in London. She also either gave birth or there was a ‘coffin birth’—either way it was awful. All the bodies were burned beyond recognition. It was terribly cruel to infer it was Philip’s fault when he had 100% nothing to do with it. I don’t blame him for considering suing. Eleven people died in that crash. Cecile’s only surviving child, toddler Johanna, was adopted by her paternal uncle Ludwig and his new wife Peg. She died of meningitis just a few years later. Ludwig and peg had no children and that line of the ancient Hesse family became extinct.

    As for Gordonstoun—it was founded by German Jew Kurt Hahn. As Philip bounced around relations as a boy, he spent a lot of time in Baden with his sister Theodora and her husband Berthold. Haha founded a school at their home, Schloss Salem. Philip attended briefly, I think. When the nazis began persecuting Jews, the badens helped Hahn leave. He then founded Gordonstoun in Scotland. Philip had a deep connection to the place for a variety of reasons. Berthold and Theodora hid Jews in Salem during the war.

    • SomeChick says:

      Thanks for the detailed info, CourtneyB, especially on Gordonstoun. Makes it seem a bit less like a relentless hellhole, haha. I can’t blame Philip for being upset about the fictionalization here. Some of those strokes are pretty broad, and that particular invention seems unnecessary and cruel. Philip mostly comes across pretty well I think, but that part was unfortunate.

      I think the entire series has totally gone easy on Charles. Disappointing! Also it has presented some of the Diana gaslighting as fact, altho not all of it. But it does feel a bit both-sidesey.

      tbh I think I’m going to go back and rewatch S3 just for the delightful Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret. All of the acting is so good but she’s absolute perfection in that role.

      • CourtneyB says:

        Salem School and then Gordonstoun were seen as pretty progressive in their day. It was just a bad fit for Charles and Philip was unable or unwilling to see it. It was one of the very few areas of stability for him growing up and he’d flourished there. Even sending Charles was seen as a radical departure in educating the heir.