Five things The Crown got wrong about Prince Harry

By making William the main character in the second part of the final season, Harry was reduced to nothing more than the Half-Baked Prince

Emma Clarke
Friday 15 December 2023 18:54 GMT
The Crown recreates Prince Harry Nazi costume scandal

As has been the case with many prestige dramas before it, the final outing of The Crown was a bit of a damp squib compared to seasons past.

Instead of going out with a bang, it not only glossed over many of the historical events that occurred between 1997-2005 (surely 9/11 and the Iraq war deserved more than a two-second mention?); it also (ironically) fell victim to the central question it posed to the British monarchy: is this still relevant?

In a bid to stay popular and hip, the series this time focused on Wills and Kate meeting at St Andrews – but by making William the main character in the second part of the final season, the show completely overlooked Harry, who was reduced to nothing more than the Half-Baked Prince.

1. The casting was all wrong

In an interview with Tudum, actor Luther Ford stated himself that his mother didn’t think he’d get the role, as he doesn’t bear any resemblance to Harry. And, well, she was right. Beyond the bright red hair, there really are no physical parallels between the two.

It’s actually quite jarring as a viewer, as ordinarily the show is spot on with casting – one only has to look at the actress who played young Queen Elizabeth in episode eight, titled “The Ritz”, who looks more like Claire Foy than Claire Foy does.

But it’s not just about looks; Ford’s version of Harry is a skulking, angry teen with a perpetual pout and furrowed brow. There’s a lack of depth to his character, which is intensified by his lack of storyline. Whenever he is on screen, he utters menacing lines and a few crude jokes, then he scurries off again into some dark corner.

Not only is Harry’s turmoil during this period told secondhand via William, the fact that the British public were enamoured with him at that time is only ever mentioned by Bertie Carvel’s Tony Blair. It’s a disservice to say the least.

2. He, too, had a girlfriend at the time

Another quite obvious oversight in season six is the absence of Chelsy Davy, Harry’s years-long girlfriend, who he started dating in early 2004.

Instead, Harry is depicted as the jealous, immature brother, first equipping William with a condom as he heads off to uni – in front of the whole family, of course – then making digs at his older brother’s new relationship with Kate.

By excluding Chelsy from the narrative, it makes Harry seem like a loveless rogue who has absolutely nothing going for him.

3. He also struggled to come to terms with his mother’s death

By this point, “Willsmania” went beyond letters from obsessive teenage girls and contaminated the entire show. Peter Morgan daringly included some risque scenes involving our future king (perhaps he was trying to even the playing field). Regardless, it did feel to me that the whole season was verging on overt pro-William propaganda.

If it wasn’t already clear that Harry was but a footnote in this season, his involvement in the Met Police’s inquiry over Princess Diana’s death was all but omitted. We saw Charles give verbal answers to Mohamed Fayed’s various claims about the royal family’s involvement in the crash, as a forlorn William listened in and wrote his responses to the probe on a sheet of paper in the adjacent room.

By not showing Harry’s struggle, the show erases his experience and leads viewers to believe that William bore the brunt alone. In reality, Prince Harry battled with the stories and conspiracy theories surrounding his mother’s death – to the point he once believed she faked the fatal accident to avoid the press. He’s spoken countless times about the mental toll it had on him, in addition to the way his family dealt with it.

4. The Nazi costume debacle

The only thing more tone deaf and obnoxious than a “natives and colonials” party is wearing a swastika armband to a “natives and colonials” party. But that is indeed what Harry did back in 2005, as he attended a bash thrown by his Olympian friend, Richard Meade.

Now, it’s not that the Netflix show was wrong to include this storyline – it was quite a defining moment in young Harry’s life, after all. But it does feel shoe-horned in considering we haven’t seen anything else of him all season.

What’s more is the lack of punishment from the royal family’s side. We see the paper headlines berating the young prince and we hear of Charles sending Harry out to the pigsty to clean up their mess, but other than that, the whole ordeal is simply laughed off and dismissed as a minor error of judgement – boys will be boys, etc.

At one point, Prince Philip is heard making a call to the fancy dress shop located in the Cotswolds, where Harry picked up the apparel in the first place – not to condemn them for having such a costume to rent, but to give them a talking to about the factual inaccuracies of the get up.

Not that it absolves him of his clear wrongdoing, but Harry also visited a Holocaust survivor and the chief rabbi in London – neither of which were covered in the show.

5. Wills and Kate ‘egging him on’

Just as the real Duke of Sussex wrote about the incident in his memoir, Spare, and spoke about it in his and Meghan’s six-part Netflix documentary earlier this year, The Crown seems to underplay the infamous costume calamity and place blame on the heir to the throne and his now-wife.

While Harry considers the move one the “biggest mistakes” of his life, he also believes his brother willed him on, stating in the book that he “phoned Willy and Kate, asked what they thought”. Not only does he purport that they directed him to wear the Nazi uniform, he also claims that they both “howled” over the decision.

This is echoed in the show, with a feeble attempt from Kate to get Harry to ditch the swastika, and William replying: “Oh, come on. Wearing the outfit doesn’t make him a Nazi. Isn’t that the joke?”

But Prince Harry was 20 at the time – old enough to know right from wrong, and old enough to be aware of the insensitivity of his actions. It’s about time he took accountability and stopped trying to shift the blame, even if in fictional form.

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