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The Crown Season 5 has gotten in some hot water for its portrayal of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Queen Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) in the ‘90s. Former Prime Minister John Major and Dame Judi Dench objected to the show’s suggestion that Charles tried to hasten Elizabeth’s abdication of the throne. In an interview released after the season 5 premiere, The Crown creator Peter Morgan said West’s portrayal of Charles emphasized his threat to the crown. 

'The Crown' Season 5: Prince Charles (Dominic West) waves as he exits a car
Dominic West | Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Morgan appeared on The Crown: The Official Podcast episode released Nov. 9, though recorded months before Queen Elizabeth’s death in September. Discussing the new cast for The Crown Season 5, Morgan described West’s threatening qualities that influenced the season. 

Dominic West brought new energy to Prince Charles in ‘The Crown’ Season 5

Josh O’Connor played Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4. When Morgan hired West for The Crown Season 5, he discovered a new dynamic between Charles and Elizabeth.

“Dominic West won’t stop being Dominic West just because he’s Prince Charles,” Morgan said on The Crown podcast. “The minute Dominic started reading the part of Charles, it was like oh okay, this is a very powerful character now. This is not where we left off with Charles, with Josh. Josh O’Connor there’s a certain delicacy, a vulnerability and a fragility to him all of which was riveting for a young Charles in that period, becoming Prince of Wales. Dominic has none of that. He’s a baritone confident man in his prime.”

Dominic West increased the threat to Queen Elizabeth’s reign

The Crown Season 5 also marks the transition from Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth to Imelda Staunton. Morgan felt Staunton took Elizabeth in the opposite direction.

“Combine that with Imelda being a naturally more vulnerable person I think,” Morgan said. “I’m not suggesting more fragile. I’m just suggesting that there’s a difference between her and Olivia and there’s a difference between Josh and Dominic that suddenly left you with a completely different power balance between Queen and Prince of Wales. Suddenly he felt like a very significant threat.”

Peter Morgan added more conflict between Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth 

The Crown is a drama and includes scenes invented by Morgan. Morgan explained that the new dynamic between West and Staunton encouraged him to pursue their energy.


‘The Crown’ Season 5 ‘Darker,’ ‘More Critical’ of Royal Family, Says EP

“All the scenes between them in the read through, I recognize what’s happened here and I can’t write against this,” Morgan said. “I have to write with this. So I did go away and write more about I suppose the threat that the Prince of Wales poses or his frustrations. Suddenly he was a King in waiting and suddenly he’s looking at his watch going, ‘when is it my turn?’”

In the season premiere, Charles meets with Major to suggest hastening the queen’s abdication, something Major states never happened. The season also finds Elizabeth having her physical and navigating the troubled marriages of her children.

“She has a different energy to Olivia Colman,” Morgan said. “When you do that particular baton pass, Olivia of course can do anything. But she is strong. Imelda can do anything but she is more naturally vulnerable I think.”