Diana's Friend Quits "The Crown" Over Portrayal of Princess' Final Years
Jemima Khan says she was a cowriter on the new season until this major disagreement.
Across four seasons so far, The Crown has dramatized the life of Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the lives of her fellow royal family members. Season 4 of the Netflix series, which premiered last fall, brought in a character many fans had been waiting for: Princess Diana, who was played by Emmy nominee Emma Corrin. The show's upcoming fifth season, due to stream in 2022, catches up with the British royals further down the line and features Elizabeth Debicki as an older Diana. And while The Crown has taken various liberties with history, showrunner Peter Morgan did reach out to a real-life friend of the late princess to provide some insight for these episodes about Diana's final years. But in a new interview, Diana's friend, Jemima Khan (nee Goldsmith), announced that she had quit The Crown over how it intended to portray the royal. To learn more about her relationship with Diana and what she objected to in the series, read on.
Khan and Diana were old family friends.
According to Khan, she wasn't just brought onto The Crown as a consultant who knew Diana in real life. She's also a screenwriter and producer by trade, and has worked on The Case Against Adnan Syed and this season of American Crime Story, among other projects.
But she was also a longtime friend of the princess. Diana was close with Khan's parents, as reported by CNN, and often brought Prince Harry and Prince William to visit their family home. The outlet even says that Khan's mother Annabel Goldsmith "was something of a mother-figure to Diana." In 1995, Khan married cricket player and future Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (They divorced in 2004.), and Diana visited them in Pakistan many times. She also championed causes the Khans were passionate about. As reported by the Daily Mail, a documentary claimed that Diana even thought seriously about moving to Pakistan—and spoke with Khan about it—when she was in a relationship with Pakistani doctor Hasnat Khan.
Khan felt compelled to open up about Diana for the first time.
"In 2019, Peter Morgan asked me to cowrite on the fifth series of The Crown, particularly those episodes which concerned Princess Diana's last years before she died," Khan told The Sunday Times in an interview published Nov. 6. "After a great deal of thought, having never spoken publicly about any of this before, I decided to contribute."
In fact, Khan has not spoken out much about Diana or their relationship in the past. She looked at The Crown as a unique opportunity.
"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," she said.
She pulled out of the production and doesn't even want to be credited.
Khan explained to The Sunday Times that she assisted in the writing process for The Crown from September 2020 to February 2021. And while she did not elaborate on the particular storyline or details that she found offensive and/or inaccurate, she did say that it was the handling of her friend's life story that prompted her to back out.
"When our cowriting agreement was not honored," she said, "and when I realized that particular storyline would not necessarily be told as respectfully or compassionately as I had hoped, I requested that all my contributions be removed from the series and I declined a credit."
She also did not explain how her agreement with the production was violated.
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Netflix claims she was never a writer on the show.
In response to Khan's accusations, Netflix issued an official statement to The Sunday Times.
"Jemima Khan has been a friend, fan and a vocal public supporter of The Crown since Season 1," it reads. "She has been part of a wide network of well-informed and varied sources who have provided extensive background information to our writers and research team—providing context for the drama that is The Crown. She has never been contracted as a writer on the series."