Elizabeth Debicki, who portrays Princess Diana in Seasons 5 and 6 of Netflix’s The Crown, was a nine-year girl in Australia when Diana died tragically in 1997 in a Paris car crash. She carried that childhood memory with her as she recreated the Princess’ final days on the Netflix drama.
“I remember my mother’s reaction very, very strongly; I remember sitting on the floor of our living room and my mother was watching the funeral procession and she was weeping,” Debicki told Deadline on the red carpet for the Season 6 premiere of The Crown. “I didn’t understand what was going on, and she explained to me who this person was. It’s actually quite a strong core memory in a way, so I learnt a lot and I did a lot of research when I was approaching this role, but I suppose knowing that this woman influenced my mother, a woman in Australia in the suburbs, so deeply is something that was already embedded into my understanding of the story.”
The first four episodes of Season 6 chronicle the events leading to Diana’s death and its immediate aftermath, which includes visions of the late Princess that engage in conversations with the Queen and Prince Charles.
These scenes have gotten a lot of attention, getting referenced as featuring Diana’s “ghost.”
The Crown creator Peter Morgan has an issue with that.
“The word ghosts is unhelpful, I was never writing anything from a supernatural perspective, not at all,” he told Deadline. “It was more an indication that, when someone has just passed, they’re still vivid in the minds of all those close to them and love them. And sometimes it’s impossible to keep them out of the minds. It felt to me more like an extension of her in real life, rather than a ghost.”
“I’ve always been very intrigued by Peter’s brain, and I think that it’s an interesting, beautiful way to have a conversation about the experience of grief,” she said of the scenes with Diana after her death. “I think that that is how we approached it as well. It’s such a slippery, human, crashing, impossible thing to reckon with, the loss of somebody, and I think that his way of imagining that was very beautiful to me, and it made sense.”