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HomenewsHow "The Crown" actor's description of King Charles compares to Harry's

How "The Crown" actor’s description of King Charles compares to Harry’s

The Crown star Dominic West gave a hint about how he will portray King Charles in the show’s final season as he said the royal has a “real sadness to him.”

The sixth and final installment of the drama is due to hit Netflix in two parts, with the first dropping on November 16.

Those four episodes will look at Princess Diana‘s death and the events leading up to it while Part II, in December, will focus on the aftermath of the tragedy.

West’s view of Charles has some similarities with the portrait Harry paints of his father though the pair appear to disagree on the king’s emotional literacy.

During an April interview released by Netflix on October 16, Dominic West said: “I think he’s got real sadness to him and real compassion, and what’s great about The Crown is that you see these public figures in private.

“I suspect in private he’s quite emotional; well, that’s the way I played him anyway…I think, hopefully, what comes out is compassionate but relatively well-balanced.

“I talked to a lot of people who have met him because he’s met a lot of people, he’s met probably more than anyone except the Queen and Prince Philip. Almost everyone has extremely warm, kind things to say about him.”

How Prince Harry Describes Charles in Spare

The picture painted of Charles in Harry’s memoir is at times warm and sympathetic, like when the king attends Harry’s school play and laughs in all the wrong places.

However, a recurring theme in Spare is the king’s struggle to find emotional connection in person, including when Charles tells him that his mother, Princess Diana died.

“None of what I said to him then remains in my memory,” Harry said. “It’s possible that I didn’t say anything. What I do remember with startling clarity is that I didn’tcry. Not one tear.

“Pa didn’t hug me. He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis?

“But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: ‘It’s going to be OK.’That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue.

“He stood and left. I don’t recall how I knew that he’d already been in the other room, that he’d already told Willy, but I knew.”

That is not the only example and the book twice suggests Charles preferred to express himself in letters than in person.

“He had trouble communicating,” Harry wrote, “trouble listening, trouble being intimate face-to-face. On occasion, after a long multi-course dinner, I’d walk upstairs and find a letter on my pillow. The letter would say how proud he was of me for something I’d done or accomplished.

“I’d smile, place it under my pillow, but also wonder why he hadn’t said this moments ago, while seated directly across from me.”

Even after leaving home to fight in Afghanistan, Harry still described finding his father difficult to connect with during telephone calls from the warzone: “‘How are you, darling boy?’ ‘Not bad. You know.’ But he asked me to write rather than call. He loved my letters. He said he’d much prefer a letter.”

Filming for Season 6 of The Crown began in 2022 before Harry’s book came out in January 2023, and it may be that the script had already been finalized by the time Spare hit shelves.

Either way, Harry’s characterization of his father may also simply never have lent itself to TV drama where viewers expect to see the emotional landscape of characters writ large on the screen in front of them.

So perhaps West and The Crown‘s scriptwriters would have felt the need to indulge in some artistic license regardless—the show is, of course, a fictional depiction that is only based on fact.

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on X, formerly Twitter, at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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