Prince Harry and Prince William had a “pure, very easy, beautiful, extremely nurturing relationship” with Princess Diana, in which they “needed each other so equally,” The Crown star Elizabeth Debicki told Newsweek.
The sixth and final season of the hit Netflix show takes the royal brothers through Diana’s death and into the grief and mourning of the aftermath. Among the more moving moments in Season 6, which drops its first four episodes on Thursday, November 16, Debicki’s Diana has a final telephone call with her children—a conversation that real-life William has said he remembers but will never reveal.
“I think the most important thing,” Debicki told Newsweek, “One of the areas that I have always focused on and found a huge amount of joy and creative joy and personal joy is the relationship with her children.
“That to me was always the centre—that’s the tent poll—it’s also the times that I feel the happiest on set. I feel the most connected to the scene. I feel the most supported,” Debicki said.
“You know, I quite literally, when the kids aren’t on set, I feel quite bereft. I’ve always felt quite bereft, and sometimes you have a half-day where you know they’re coming in the afternoon and I always just thought ‘When are the kids here?'” Debicki added.
“I just wanted to be with them, and they made me feel whole in a way, and they make me feel more ‘her’. They’re glorious to work opposite and I’ve been so blessed that all the kids who have been cast in this have been the most sublime actors, little actors.
“That to me is the kind of key I think, and it’s also the place that I’ve been happiest playing her,” the 33-year-old Australian actress said.
Debicki felt the same about Diana’s real-life relationship with William and Harry after hours spent trawling archive footage. She said that the need was maybe mutual between all three.
“I would watch hours and hours of footage of them together, and what I would see there was just this pure, very easy, beautiful, extremely nurturing relationship that seemed that they needed each other so equally,” Debicki said.
“That was the information that I used. There’re ample amounts of that, and I really watched a lot of it,” she added.
The two brothers have given different accounts of their mother, with Harry opting for the more traditional, entirely positive version.
William, by contrast, described Diana’s bombshell 1995 Panorama interview on British TV—depicted in the previous season of The Crown—as a “false narrative” and acknowledged the “fear, paranoia and isolation” she felt in her final years.
And Harry has risked stirring an argument with his brother by writing in his book Spare about William’s “famous resemblance to Mummy, which was fading with time.”
Show creator Peter Morgan appears to lean more toward the traditional take on Diana, showing few signs in Season 6 of the paranoia William referenced.
Either way, Debicki was sure to put William and Harry’s more recent public conflicts out of her mind, focusing instead purely on the era in which the show was set.
“When I play the character, the children are getting along very well, the way the actors play them in my interactions with them,” Debicki said. “They play them beautifully like brothers who are fighting over this and that.
“I hope what comes across in Season 6, too, is that there’s this little trio of love between them. I think, from what I picked up from my research, too, it was so incredibly important for the real Diana to really kind of make what was an extremely unusual set of circumstances, duties responsibilities for children to endure… to try and make them feel at times just as regular as possible and do things that kids want to do—go to the cinema, go to the store, go on vacation.
“And I think there’s also a lot of evidence and footage for us to know that the attention that they received was difficult for her to stomach that that was part and parcel for them.
“The famous skiing footage where she goes right up to the paparazzi, and she sort of says, ‘Would you leave us alone, and could you give us some time?'” Debicki added.
“I think we all know, there’s enough documentation of the fact that there was a trying to engage in a relationship with the media that was respectful where a sort of organized photograph was taken and then privacy was given.
“But that was obviously very difficult for the media to sort of keep their word and that we know is difficult for her,” Debicki said.
Diana’s experiences with the media have, however, influenced Debicki’s attitude to her private life in the present: “I’ve been very fortunate, in a way, doing this job. I’ve worked really hard and I’ve loved it. It’s been an enormous challenge, but if anything, it’s probably made me protect my privacy more, maybe, and really value my ‘non-acting normal life.’
“I think maybe it’s helped me make that distinction even clearer,” the actress added.