If there is one rule in media and entertainment, it is don’t disrespect Princess Diana, the beloved and tragic figure whose death in a 1997 car accident shocked the world.
However, telling, retelling, dramatizing and scrutinizing every aspect of Diana’s life can be very lucrative.
The popular Netflix series “The Crown” has drawn large audiences over the last several years, but there are reports that the upcoming season does not reflect well on Diana, who is played by Elizabeth Debicki.
Jemima Khan, a close confidant of Diana’s, quit her advisory role on the show and told The Sunday Times that the princess’ story was not being told “as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped.”
“It was really important to me that the final years of my friend’s life be portrayed accurately and with compassion, as has not always happened in the past,” Khan said.
Interestingly, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have had nothing to say about the controversy.
Why the conspicuous silence, particularly since this concerns Harry’s own mother?
One possible reason has been offered: The prince and the duchess of Sussex signed a multiyear deal with Netflix reportedly worth more than $100 million. The couple are working with the streaming giant on a number of projects, which could include a documentary about their lives, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.
Royal experts are criticizing Harry over his apparent unwillingness to defend his mother’s legacy.
The Sun reported that royal biographer Angela Levin chided the prince for not “finding his voice” over Netflix’s unflattering portrayal of Diana.
“He should tear the deal up and make a stand for his mother,” Levin said.
“What’s more important? Money or defending his mum?” she said. “It’s astonishing he can’t find his voice on this.”
But millions of dollars can be a strong motivator.
Charles Rae, the former royal editor of The Sun, also harshly spoke out against the couple’s silence, according to Express.
“You know, a £112million can buy an awful lot of principles, to be perfectly honest,” he said.
Rae pointed out that until now, Harry has defended Diana.
“He’s also been very keen in protecting his mother, quite rightly so, but in this case he’s strangely silent,” Raw said. “He’s not saying one word of criticism about Netflix because they are his paymasters.”
This kind of scrutiny should not be surprising after all the media attention given to Harry and Meghan’s relationship and controversial split from the royal family.
Accusations, exaggerations, theories and rumors abounded, and lots of finger-pointing was stirred up by the media.
When abdicating their royal duties, the couple said they wanted to live a life away from the intrusive media, Reuters reported. Yet, they turned around and almost immediately sought as much media attention as they could get.
Their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March especially ignited drama. Markle opened up about how she struggled with depression and said she experienced racist comments about the couple’s baby, Archie.
“In those months when I was pregnant, all around the same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of, he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title. And also, concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Markle said in the interview.
Claims about racism from the royal family made great headline fodder and kept the spotlight on Harry and Meghan for a while. The interview with Oprah drew 17.1 million viewers.
Now, the deal with Netflix seems to just be the most recent way for them to remain in the spotlight.
However, regardless of all the other controversies surrounding the couple, their silence on Netflix’s handling of Diana is off-putting.
The former princess was a cultural phenomenon. She was the darling of the media, the fashion icon of a generation and, eventually, a tragic heroine. She was the most beloved princess when she married Prince Charles, and then she became even more loved and pitied when she and the prince split.
Her life was constantly put in sensational headlines, but after her death, her memory was surrounded by reverence and respect. The media began to handle her legacy with kid gloves, most particularly as it brought her children into scrutiny.
“It made the media as a whole change — it was a call to arms, oh my god, we’ve really got to change how we see [celebrities in general] and be more sensitive when children are involved,” CNN royals contributor Victoria Arbiter told USA Today in 2017.
In light of all this, the silence now from the prince and the duchess of Sussex is deafening. The seeming unwillingness to defend a most beloved mother’s legacy seems out of character. But perhaps this is another tactic for them to have the spotlight put on them.
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