Princess’s close friend says story was not handled ‘as respectfully and compassionately’ as she had hoped
Jemima Khan said she had asked for all her contributions to be removed from the series. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/Rex/Shutterstock
The Guardian-Mark Brown
Jemima Khan, a close friend of Princess Diana, pulled out of helping to script Netflix’s The Crown because the story was not being handled “as respectfully or compassionately” as she had hoped, she has said.
Khan said she was brought in to help the show’s creator, Peter Morgan, write the script of the fifth series, which includes the years leading up to Diana’s death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
Khan, a well-connected film and television producer, was part of Diana’s social circle at the time. She has never spoken publicly about their friendship but, she told the Sunday Times: “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.”
Those years include Diana’s romances with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan and Dodi Fayed, the son of the billionaire owner of Harrods, Mohamed Al Fayed. There was also the Panorama interview with Martin Bashir when, referencing Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana said: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Khan said once she had realised that the stories were going in a direction she did not agree with she requested that all her contributions be removed and asked not to have a writing credit.
“In 2019, Peter Morgan asked me to co-write on the fifth series of The Crown, particularly those episodes which concerned Princess Diana’s last years before she died,” she said. “After a great deal of thought, having never spoken publicly about any of this before, I decided to contribute.
“We worked together on the outline and scripts from September 2020 until February 2021. When our co-writing agreement was not honoured, and when I realised 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.”
The next series is expected in November 2022. The Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki, who came to prominence after her portrayal of Jordan Baker in Baz Luhrmann’s film The Great Gatsby and later The Night Manager and Tenet, will play Diana, taking over from Emma Corrin.
Filming for the series began in July, with Dominic West taking over from Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles. Imelda Staunton succeeded Olivia Colman as the Queen, Jonathan Pryce replaced Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Lesley Manville took over from Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. Also in the cast are Jonny Lee Miller as John Major and Bertie Carvel as Tony Blair.
Khan is the daughter of the late Eurosceptic financier Sir James Goldsmith, the sister of the former minister Zac Goldsmith and ex-wife of Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan.
In a statement to the Sunday Times, a spokesperson for The Crown said: “Jemima Khan has been a friend, fan and a vocal public supporter of The Crown since season one. 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 tea, providing context for the drama that is The Crown. She has never been contracted as a writer on the series.”