Prince Harry is refusing to comment on a new Netflix musical that utterly traduces the life of his mother.
Ignoring shows, books, and newspaper articles that dishonor and distort his mother’s story is an entirely sensible response from Prince Harry under normal circumstances. But having signed a reported $100-million deal with Netflix, which is airing Diana: The Musical, his silence on this production is less straightforward.
The prince’s spokesperson did not respond to queries from The Daily Beast asking if he felt there was any tension between his own deal with Netflix and the company’s decision to stream a filmed version of the widely pilloried Broadway musical.
The show is made up of entirely fictional scenes, including an opening sequence in which Diana, played by Jeanna de Waal, is encouraged to come and meet Prince Charles for the first time by his girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles.
The show ran for just a few days of previews on Broadway last year before having to close down after theaters went dark owing to the coronavirus pandemic. It is scheduled to re-open to a live audience in early November at the Longacre Theater on Broadway. The score is by Tony winners Joe DiPietro and David Bryan.
The show whizzes viewers through Charles and Diana’s engagement when she is chased through the streets of London by a pack of cockney paparazzi photographers who chant, rather bizarrely, “Better than a Guinness, better than a wank / Snap a few pics, it’s money in the bank / Honey, you are money in the bank.”
After they get married, with Diana reminding herself, “Time to get a grip, just hold your head up high and don’t trip,” Diana swiftly declares she is pregnant.
Charles' reaction is to say, “It would be rather helpful if it was a boy.”
Charles later sings to her as he holds William, “Darling, I am holding my son, so let me say jolly well done.”
When Harry arrives he gets a similarly joyful serenade from his proud parents, with Diana, singing to him, “Harry, my ginger-haired son / You’ll always be second to none.”
But Charles’s jealousy soon gets the better of him, and he sings: “You’ve never once obeyed me, Diana, goddamn it, it’s all your fault.”
The royal family then rounds on Diana, with the queen ordering her son, “Don’t blame her, Charles, tame her, Charles, she’s embarrassing the throne.”
A showdown in a London basement between Camilla and Diana ensues, with Camilla telling her rival, “I love Charles for who he is / For his strength and the noble life he lives / You love Charles for who he’s not / Some fantasy prince in a storybook plot.”
James Hewitt arrives in the story and declares, “They’ll call me the randy stable boy.”
The production continues in similarly melodramatic style for almost two hours until it culminates, of course, with the decidedly grim reality of Diana’s death in a Paris tunnel.
Harry has previously tried to avoid the conflict between his Netflix payday and the streaming giant’s profiteering off his family with The Crown.
“I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife or myself, because it’s the difference between fiction—take it how you will—and being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that,” he told his friend James Corden.
Whatever you think of The Crown’s approach to historical accuracy, it is, overall, an affectionate portrayal of a much misunderstood family. Diana: The Musical, on the other hand, is a crass attempt to cash in on the death of Harry’s mother. It’s hard to believe he really has nothing to say.