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Do Prince Harry, Prince William watch 'The Crown'? Why TV show's depiction of Princess Diana isn't 'easy for either of them.'

"The Crown" has become "the lens that many people have into what the royal family is, and the stories among it," author Omid Scobie says.

The royal brothers have agreed to always be on the same page when it comes to their mother, but one episode of The Crown changed all of that. (Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Prince William have agreed to always be on the same page when it comes to their mother, but one episode of The Crown changed all of that, says Endgame author Omid Scobie. (Getty Images)

Elizabeth Debicki's portrayal of Princess Diana in Netflix's The Crown might teeter between fact and fiction for some, but for the late princess's sons, Princes William and Harry, it's profoundly personal.

While Prince Harry has admitted to watching The Crown, Prince William has publicly denied watching it. But as Omid Scobie, author of the new royal tell-all Endgame, explains, that didn't stop reports about the future king feeling "totally sickened by it."

"While [The Crown] may not be pleasant for [the brothers] to watch, and it may not be fair, members of the royal household are publicly funded institutions. So there's a rightful public interest," Scobie tells Yahoo Entertainment in a new interview. "There's an acceptance on both sides that, ultimately, the whole world is interested in our family. The depiction of the scenes with their late mother would not be easy for either of them to watch. I can't imagine a world in which either of them have sat down to watch it together."

The brothers disagree on a lot of things, the author, ABC News royal expert and former Yahoo contributor writes in Endgame, out now. That includes how the popular series recounted their mom's infamous November 1995 Panorama interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir, Scobie says.

Elizbaeth Debecki as Princess Diana on Netflix's The Crown. (Netflix)
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana on Netflix's The Crown. (Netflix)

A May 2021 investigation concluded that Bashir was "devious and dishonest" with Princess Diana, forging documents as a way to convince the princess that members of her staff were spies, paid for by the royal family to share intelligence. None of Bashir's claims turned out to be true.

Though "Bashir confessed to this deceit" at the time, Scobie writes in Endgame, the BBC let him off with "a slap on the wrist." The story vanished for over two decades — until the investigation ultimately held the BBC accountable. As for Bashir, he "quit before he could get fired," the writer details in the book.

The show's depiction of the Panorama interview in Season 5, Scobie explains, was the beginning of the end for the royal family's adoration of the Netflix drama — a show he describes as "the number one pop culture reference" to the British monarchy.

'The show became their worst enemy'

"It began as kind of like the 'best of' the early years of the House of Windsor," Scobie says of The Crown's early seasons, which most of the royal family — including Queen Elizabeth II — were "very excited" to watch.

"Then enter that very difficult, challenging time of the arrival of Princess Diana [on The Crown], and all the events that followed," he adds. "The show became their worst enemy."

Whether they watch it or not is almost irrelevant at this point, says Scobie.

"It's the lens that many people have into what the royal family is, and the stories among it," he says. "A lot of what we see on The Crown is straight out of the writers' room, but at the same time, the who, what, where and when, and the history, that all happened. There's no covering that up."

The release of its fifth season in November 2022 showed the raw emotions and social isolation that led to Princess Diana's Panorama interview, wherein she said the famous line about Camilla Parker Bowles and King Charles III: "There were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Twenty-three million people watched the 1995 interview when it aired, which shined a light on the realities of royal family relations. The May 2021 investigation pulled back that curtain further, as did Prince Harry and Prince William's public statements on the matter, which "couldn't have been more different," he says.

As Scobie writes in Endgame, the Duke of Sussex's "written statement issued from California reminded the public that his mother was 'an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service' and someone who was also 'resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest.'"

Harry went on to share his concern that the "ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices" that ultimately took his mom's life still exists. "Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. Let's remember who she was and what she stood for," he wrote.

By comparison, Scobie says the Prince of Wales's statement was "guarded" and appeared to sympathize more with the palace than with his mother's lived experience.

(L to R): Peter Phillips, Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales and Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, follow the pallbearers carrying of Queen Elizabeth II into Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster in London on September 14, 2022, to Lie in State following a procession from Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II will lie in state in Westminster Hall inside the Palace of Westminster, from Wednesday until a few hours before her funeral on Monday, with huge queues expected to file past her coffin to pay their respects. (Photo by Jacob King / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JACOB KING/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry and Prince William, center, carrying Queen Elizabeth II's casket into Westminster Hall at her funeral on Sept. 14, 2022. (Jacob King/AFP via Getty Images)

"It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said," Prince William said in his May 2021 statement. He claimed that Bashir and the BBC "played on her fears and fueled paranoia." Those actions "contributed significantly to her fear, paranoid and isolation that I remember from those final years with her," concluding that the interview "established a false narrative" and "should never be aired again."

"Prince William personally contacted BBC executives to take over whatever steps were necessary to ensure that the interview never again sees the light of day," Scobie writes in Endgame. The network ultimately agreed.

A tale of two brothers

Scobie elaborates further on the stark differences in the brothers' statements in his book.

"William reinforced the counternarrative that his mother was paranoid at the time," he writes, adding that the royal "turned to a number of aides within the royal household" to write the statement. One source close to Prince Harry told the author they believe Prince William "may have felt some pressure" to word it the way he did.

Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince William (Rufus Kampa) as depicted in Season 6 of The Crown. (Netflix)
Prince Harry (Fflyn Edwards), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince William (Rufus Kampa) as depicted in Season 6 of The Crown. (Netflix)

“While there is no doubt that William's rebuke came from a place of love," Scobie continues, "by disparaging Bashir's trick, and by extension the entire interview, William ended up discrediting a large part of his mother's own story. To make his points, he did not remind the public that his mother was candid and truthful, despite Bashir's dirty work, but instead, maintained the royal version that she was emotionally fragile and thus easily manipulated, and therefore her claims are not to be trusted."

The differing statements from the brothers marked the first time the public saw the "very different opinions" Prince Harry and Prince William had with regard to their mother, Scobie explains.

“It was the first time that we saw very different opinions and feelings from William and Harry, two men who were very much on the same page when they were younger," the author says. "It's been really interesting to watch how they've dealt with it."

Their views, he says, "showed two men with very different opinions on it. I would imagine that must be exactly the same with [their interpretations of] The Crown today, too."

Endgame is available to buy in bookstores now.