This weekend The Crown series 4 landed on Netflix, and it's almost a good job we're in lockdown in England, really, because it gave us ample time to binge watch it. Households across the country will have become gripped as they watched Prince Charles and Diana Spencer's relationship unfold - and then unravel - with the backdrop of various other dramatic royal goings on.
But considering the main storyline throughout season 4, which spans 1979 - 1990, was the evolution of Charles and Diana's relationship, you might be surprised to learn that their wedding is hardly shown in the Netflix drama. In episode 3, Fairytale, we see the build up to the royal wedding, with crowds gathering outside Buckingham Palace and St Paul's Cathedral.
There's a montage of all the key royals getting ready for the occasion - with a particular focus on Diana in her dress, which is displayed in a full length shot from the back. But then, just as you're getting ready to see the bride, played by Emma Corrin, walk up the aisle - the episode cuts to black. I don't know about you, but I almost yelped out in pain at the realisation that was all we were going to see of the wedding of the century.
But it seems there could be a clever reason behind Peter Morgan's decision not to depict the wedding in full in The Crown. Actually, a couple of reasons. The first of which I deduced from an interesting interview with the show's Executive Producer, Suzanne Mackie.
From what she says, it seems the consensus among the show's creators is that there was far more dramatic impact in only showing a snippet, rather than the whole thing. "There is something brilliant about seeing the back of [Diana] and the back of that dress that is more powerful weirdly than seeing the front," she commented. "It is as if she is walking away from us, you know, it’s quite haunting."
Director Ben Caron also hinted at a similar line of thought, when he described the moment Emma Corrin first showed up on set in her wedding day costume. Considering the power of this moment, it's understandable that the show makers wanted to translate the same impact with subtlety when it came to editing the final scenes.
"It was right at the very end and we had about an hour left to shoot a very simple scene, and that was Diana standing in the wedding dress and then walking away from the camera," said Caron, recalling the day. "The crew were all really busy setting up and there was a ripple that you could feel coming from the corridor that then very quickly came into the room as Emma walked in the wedding dress. It was like a chill going through the room and everyone just went silent."
Ben Caron also alluded to show creator Peter Morgan's typical style being another reason for keeping the wedding scene short and sharp. "When I read Peter’s scripts, there’s always a sense of, 'oh, I know what’s coming up'. And of course, there are the big moments in the season. There is the wedding, which everyone’s going to be excited about," said Caron.
"But there are also the brilliant unknown stories that Peter gets his magnifying glass out and scratches beneath the surface of. Peter has this amazing ability to be able to bring something to the audience and show them a different understanding of maybe how these things played out."
It could be that Peter Morgan made the decision that - considering how public Charles and Diana's wedding day was, and how well documented it was at the time - there'd be more effect just skimming the surface with that, and focussing instead on covering the lesser-known royal dynamics in greater detail.
One final possible reason why Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding day is hardly shown in series 4 of The Crown could be the sheer resource it would have required. We know Netflix aren't shy about spending out on The Crown - the show has a rumoured £50 million budget per season - but to create a realistic depiction of the 1981 royal wedding could arguably have blown that out of the water.
In her official interview ahead of The Crown's release, Emma Corrin described the major effort required just to film that one wedding dress scene. "The wedding dress was a huge huge thing. It went on very gradually, so they had to put it all together and there were so many fittings for hours," she said, adding that she had "ten people trying to put me in this dress".
Whatever the real reason was that we don't see Charles and Diana exchange their vows, one thing is certain: the scene definitely has dramatic effect. Thanks, Peter Morgan and co, for spoiling us with yet another excellent season of The Crown.
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