Away with the fairies – The Crown: season six, part one review

Of the four new episodes arriving today on Netflix, the first three take us up to the early hours of August 31, 1997, to the fatal Paris car crash that claimed the lives of Princess Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed. The fourth is where Diana and Dodi come back as ghosts.

Yes, quite.

We start with an apparition of Diana, materialising in the aircraft seat opposite her ex-husband Prince Charles as he’s flying back from the French capital, still in a state of shock.

“Ta-da!” this ghost of Diana actually exclaims as she takes human form as if to show him she hasn’t lost her famously playful nature.

She then thanks Charles for his show of grief at the hospital (“So raw. Broken. And handsome. I’ll take that with me…”), before tearfully reflecting on their time together. “You know, I loved you so much,” she tells him. “So deeply. But so painfully, too. Well, it’s over now. Be easier for everyone with me gone…”

A few minutes later, back in London, it’s Dodi’s ghost that appears before his father, businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed.

Al-Fayed is a broken man, in stark contrast to the heartless manipulator he’s been until his son’s untimely death, desperate to engineer a marriage between Diana and this boy of his (whom he’s treated as a waste of space), convinced it would finally gain him a place at society’s top table.

“You were perfect,” he sobs to Dodi’s ghost.

Dodi’s ghost puts him straight, standing up to his father in a way he hadn’t dared whilst alive. And then he swiftly vanishes again. “Don’t leave me!” Al-Fayed wails.

But it’s the second appearance of Diana’s ghostly incarnation that’s presented as the real gamechanger. This one happens at Balmoral, where she materialises on the sofa alongside the Queen.

It’s a few days after the accident and Her Majesty remains adamant that her place is up here with her grieving grandsons, William and Harry. Charles, on the other hand, has urged her to travel down to London, to be a mother to a nation whose display of grief is unprecedented. People aren’t best pleased, he points out, by the Royals’ lack of response to Diana’s death. He fears there’s “a real chance that things might turn ugly”.

In reality, of course, the Queen reflected on the situation, drew on her years of experience and wisdom and ultimately came to the right decision.

In The Crown, it’s Diana’s ghost that steers her towards it.

“For as long as anyone can remember,” she tells Her Majesty, “you’ve taught us what it is to be British. Maybe it’s time to show you’re ready to learn, too…?”

It’s a pity Prince Philip isn’t in the room to hear Diana’s ghost suggesting this. I’ve a pretty good idea of how he’d react.

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