Peter Morgan hasn’t read Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ but ‘I’ve got a lot of sympathy with him’

Peter Morgan covers the latest issue of Variety, all to preview the final season of The Crown, the first part of which comes out in just a few weeks. While most of The Crown’s actors are British and therefore not taking part in the SAG-AFTRA strike, I do think most of the actors are refusing to do promotion in solidarity with their SAG sisters and brothers. Thus, Peter Morgan has to shoulder much of the promotion. Honestly, I’m fine with it – he answers questions about why he approached various royal stories in certain ways, and he even has some interesting stuff to say about Netflix and Prince Harry. Some highlights:

Putting “Diana’s ghost” into The Crown: For the record, the princess’s posthumous appearance is not meant to be supernatural. “I never imagined it as Diana’s ‘ghost’ in the traditional sense. It was her continuing to live vividly in the minds of those she has left behind. Diana was unique, and I suppose that’s what inspired me to find a unique way of representing her. She deserved special treatment narratively.”

He hasn’t covered Prince Andrew at all: “Haven’t gone anywhere near him,” admits Morgan, who says his focus has always been on the direct line of succession: Elizabeth, Charles, William. “I do little bits of dramatization of Harry but mainly only in relationship to William.”

On Prince Harry’s Spare: “I’ve not read a word of it. Not that I wouldn’t be interested. But I didn’t want his voice to inhabit my thinking too much. I’ve got a lot of sympathy with him, a lot of sympathy. But I didn’t want to read his book.”

Morgan says he’s never discussed the series with Harry: “I haven’t heard it from his lips. And I’ve never had the conversation with him about it.” (Ted Sarandos, too, has never discussed the show with Harry. “We keep a wall around this topic when we talk,” he says, “for obvious reasons.”)

The Crown leaves out a lot: “We once wrote down all the things that we hadn’t put in ‘The Crown. Speculation about paternity, affairs, this, that. It’s unbelievable, all we could have written.”

Prime ministers’ obsessions with QEII is a mother thing: “Yes. In part, it is. My mother was born in exactly the same year as the queen. So there were things that they had in common: a stoicism, a sort of uncomplainingness, a toughness. But no question.”

On the “tampon” call between Charles & Camilla: “My story was the story of privacy being shattered. My story was not the story of exploitation. You look at those two, you listen to what they’re saying, and you think, ‘Oh, my gosh. How sweet that people of that age … .’ Somehow, it’s only the sexual declarations of people in their early 20s that we find palatable. When people in their 50s express sexual love for one another, we all think it should be hidden away.”

On the criticism from real-life figures: “All the criticism about ‘The Crown’s’ attitude to the royals comes in anticipation of the show coming out. The minute it’s out and people look at it — whether it’s Judi Dench or John Major — they instantly fall silent. And I think they probably feel rather stupid.”

Stopping the show at 2005: “It was the cutoff to keep it historical, not journalistic,” he says. His rule of thumb is to leave a 10-year gap between past and present, but he doubled that for “The Crown.” “I think by stopping almost 20 years before the present day, it’s dignified.”

Whether he’s a republican or a monarchist: “I probably am a monarchist, but out of appreciation for what they do when they do it well. I think if we’re all adults, we would say that the system makes no sense and is unjust in the modern democracy. But I’m not sure Britain would be Britain without a monarchy. And in our agony of not being able to work out what we really think of them, we end up buying endless newspapers that treat them in the way that they do, none of which is helpful.”

He would consider a prequel: “I do have an idea. But first, I need to do some other things. Second, it would need a unique set of circumstances to come together.” Does it predate Elizabeth II? “Yes. If I were to go back into ‘The Crown,’ it would definitely be to go back in time.”

[From Variety]

A prequel? Queen Victoria’s reign has been dramatized in various ways, but I could totally see a “Crown”-like treatment towards George V, Edward VIII and George VI. I also understand his decision to cut off the story at 2005, honestly – even though so much happened past that year, the history hasn’t been written and we don’t have all of the facts in evidence. I think he would enjoy Spare – maybe he’ll read it now that he’s done with The Crown. Also: it’s clear that he has some bizarre sympathy for Charles and Camilla in general, which is why he toes the line when it comes to Charles’s infidelities and makes it sound like Charles and Camilla were each other’s true loves, when really he was screwing around with multiple women for decades. Speaking of, you know what we haven’t heard anything about? Tiggy Legge-Bourke. Is Tiggy in the final season? Because there was absolutely a plot to convince Charles to marry Tiggy.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, cover courtesy of Variety.

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34 Responses to “Peter Morgan hasn’t read Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ but ‘I’ve got a lot of sympathy with him’”

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  1. equality says:

    “When people in their 50s express sexual love for one another, we all think it should be hidden away.” No. When people in their 50’s who are married to other people and are making someone else’s life miserable, express a desire to be a tampon people think it is disgusting. He hasn’t read Spare because he doesn’t want the facts to interfere with his sympathy for C&C.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      Charles and Camilla were not in their fifties during the tampon phone conversation if my memory serves. Most people were put off not by their ages but because it’s such a weird thing to say to express “sexual love” as he calls it.

      • equality says:

        They were in the 40’s at that time. I would have thought the tampon comment an odd thing to wish, but wouldn’t have given it much more thought (since many people are odd), except for the circumstances with Di.

    • Chloe says:

      And just for the record I wouldn’t want to hear a 20 something year old talk about his desire to be a tampax either.

  2. Bettyrose says:

    Well, one can always turn to Lifetime to fill in the years after 2005. Hardly the same level of writing but those movies are a rollicking good time. Start with the William & Kate film and proceed from there.

    • Nubia says:

      Lol the lifetime movies are such a guilty pleasure. But i hate how they change the cast. I watched the Harry and Meghan trilogy and its like the casting got worse as it proceeded.

      • Bettyrose says:

        It’s true although the third Meghan captures her voice really well, and kudos to Lifetime for modifying their syrupy formula to drop some truth bombs in movie 3.

      • AC says:

        I remembered the first Lifetime movie that portrayed HM(when they first met etc). And in a way they made K a bit of a mean girl there. I guess they weren’t too far off lolZ..

  3. Eurydice says:

    I had heard some talk about the possible prequel starting with Victoria’s funeral, but the Byline stuff begs a sequel. Maybe he can start by reading Spare.

    • aquarius64 says:

      So Andrew is not going to be addressed? Read whitewash. Somebody wants a knighthood.

    • WaterDragon says:

      Ir never ceases to amaze me that so many Brit’s make a point of claiming that they haven’t read Spare, as though this were a badge of honor or something. It was a f*cking best seller there, so obviously some people are reading it. Duh! I make it a point to re-watch the Oprah interview at least one a month (thank god I DVRed it). I pick up new info and impressions each time, No wonder the RF and Rota Rats went ape shit over it! Ditto for the Harry and Megan Netflix series. I am proud to say I have read Spare at least 5 times. I also bought copies for my daughter-in-law and other friends.

  4. Maxine Branch says:

    Never watched The Crown and do not plan to start now. Not a monarchist. See zero value in a modern day society for these sort of birth order clans. Far too much damage has been done by monarchies in order for them to remain in control and far too much stolen generational wealth maintains them.

    • WaterDragon says:

      All the more reason to watch The Crown. Ir would make an anti-monarchist of any sentient being.

  5. Amy Bee says:

    He truly believes in the Charles and Camilla love story. Yuck!

  6. Brassy Rebel says:

    “I’m not sure Britain would be Britain without a monarchy.” Well, I’m not sure Britain still is Britain even with a monarchy. It began it’s slide into obscurity with Brexit. And the slide continues since the death of QE II.

  7. Mads says:

    Of course he’s a monarchist! Charles and Camilla must be thrilled with Morgan promoting the “star crossed lovers” nonsense and omitting the other women in his life during his marriage to Diana, noticeably Dale “Kanga” Tryon. If he made mention of Diana’s lovers he shouldn’t have ignored Charles’ paramours either. I suspect he’s going to gloss over Kate stalking William and him cheating on her while they dated.

    • Nic919 says:

      Just the brief photos suggest that the kate and William university years will be pure fiction. Why he is even covering them at all just shows his monarchist bent.

      This series skipped Anne being kidnapped which could have been interesting. Instead they make up events that never happened and no one needs to see a pretend version of two people who had a dysfunctional relationship from day one.

  8. Becks1 says:

    He doesn’t completely focus on the heirs though. there are whole episodes devoted to Margaret, even in the later seasons.

    Honestly I still think ending with the QM’s funeral or QE’s silver jubilee would have been a better ending than making it about Charles and Camilla’s wedding.

    • Eurydice says:

      Definitely better – Charles and Camilla’s wedding means nothing to the succession. He’d still be king without her. And there’s no way to turn Charles/Camilla into star crossed lovers who finally found each other after years of adversity – the true history is out there.

    • sevenblue says:

      I am confused about that statement too. A lot of the episodes focused on Margaret and both her love life and her misery living within the institution. Charles’s spares weren’t got so much scenes because Diana was so big at that time, I thought. But, he is claiming that the reason is that he is spare, so not important, which I don’t buy. The last season was written in a way not to piss off RF. So, I think he is avoiding Andrew because it is not a good look for RF.

    • Campbell says:

      Margaret was a major storyline. If we’re honest, he probably did that to stay in the current era’s good graces, which appears important to him. His comment about whether Britain would be Britain without the monarchy, to a degree, that is true. I always found the British monarchy fun, watched Will’s and Harry’s weddings, etc. I loved Diana and Harry completely reminds me of Diana. Watching Charles, Will and the firm turn on Harry has affected my opinion of Britain.

  9. Jais says:

    Eh, I still think it’s an interesting choice not to read Spare. It’s primary source material. It gives a lot of info about Camilla. But no, he’s choosing to immortalize Charles and Camilla’s romance. He’s essentially helping the monarchy while claiming not to be a monarchist.

    • Eurydice says:

      Morgan’s a filmmaker, not an historian. Once he’s got his themes and storyline together, that becomes the basis for the whole production. In Morgan’s plan Harry’s just wallpaper, so no need to read about his point of view.

      • Nic919 says:

        I will buy that he did not want any influence as he was finishing up the series. But at this point just ignoring a book written by a senior member of the family after having profited from that family’s image for years just seems obtuse. He is siding with the establishment at this point, which many older Britons in the arts tend to do because they want their knighthood or damehood.

  10. Campbell says:

    I find it interesting how so many still sympathize with Harry even with all the machinations the BRF have done.

  11. L4Frimaire says:

    I was not impressed with this interview.

  12. kirk says:

    “Diana was unique, and I suppose that’s what inspired me to find a unique way of representing her. She deserved special treatment narratively.” Oh really Peter? Aren’t you trying to appease the critics who downgraded Crown last season?

    Loved S1-S2, gave it 5 stars on Netflix. By the time I finally finished S5, my rating fell to 3-stars. Hated Imelda Staunton as QEII. Hated the glow-up of Chuck. Hated the portrayal of Camela as innocent naif who didn’t mastermind her own kween PR. Hated the wasting of beautiful Elizabeth Debicki in the diminution of Diana. Top highlights of S5 involved the Spares: Anne telling Betty she’s “marrying Tim” (not asking), and Margaret reconnecting with Townsend, but best of all was watching Windsor burn.

    The Crown cannot improve, regardless of Spare – Morgan is bucking for a Holy Royal Promotion. Meanwhile its viewers, who were previously oblivious, have done our homework since homegirl Meghan was abused by BRFCo. From the 2009-2013 Kenya survivors’ lawsuit, we learned about the discovery of “300 boxes of previously unreleased files” and “new evidence illuminating the document destruction process…revealed how British officials had culled and burned files on the eve of decolonization” (Caroline Elkins, ‘Legacy of Violence’). From multiple sources we’ve learned about royals’ penchant for hiding documents thereby frustrating historians and other truth seekers. From Norman Baker we’ve learned the queen requested funds to pay for the heating of Buckingham Palace from an account established to assist the poor in paying for their rent or heat. From multiple sources we’ve learned about monarch consent laws that exempt BRFCo from laws that apply to everyone else. From watching the Neverending Funeral coverage we’ve learned that BRFCo controls BBC, demanding private edits of publicly financed content. Etc., etc., etc., etc. Genie’s out of the bottle dude.

  13. bisynaptic says:

    So, Morgan is working out his mother issues… that makes sense. It’s also not true that The Crown focuses exclusively on the monarch and heirs: Prince Philip got an oversized amount of screen time.

  14. yellowy says:

    Morgan identified as a republican during The Queen era, and later said he wrote himself into being a monarchist.