In season 2 of the show, we see flashbacks to the Duke of Edinburgh’s childhood, specifically around the death of his sister, Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, in 1937. She died in a plane accident at the age of 26. Prince Philip was 16 at the time.
The Crown suggests that Prince Philip was blamed for his elder sister’s death by their father, and that his sister planned to skip the wedding for which she took a plane, suggesting that she was only making the journey because Philip was banned from visiting her in Germany due to poor behaviour at school.
At the funeral, The Crown‘s Prince Andrew, Philip’s father, states: “You are the reason we are all here, burying my favourite child.”
According to royal experts, the Duke of Edinburgh was deeply hurt by this on-screen portrayal of his childhood. Royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith told the Daily Mail: ‘[Philip] had nothing to do with his sister’s death… Cecilie did die in an air crash but that’s the only thing that was true. Everything else was invented in a shockingly malicious way.’
‘The whole thing about Cecilie, which he did learn about, was terribly upsetting to him,’ she added. ‘They [Netflix] should emphatically apologise and I think a disclaimer is necessary more than ever. Now that he is gone, what they have done to his reputation is in even sharper relief.’
So far in The Crown‘s four seasons, Prince Philip has been played by former Doctor Who star Matt Smith and more recently Tobias Menzies. Both actors paid tribute to the Duke following his recent death and producers of The Crown said they were ‘deeply saddened’ by his passing. Netflix and Peter Morgan, the show’s creator, have yet to respond to suggestions that they should apologise for the portrayal of Philip.
Jonathan Pryce will portray the Duke of Edinburgh for the show’s final two seasons.