Elizabeth Debicki of “The Crown” Says the Paparazzi’s Pursuit of Princess Diana That Final Summer Was “Completely Unbearable”

Several cast and crew members on the show became emotional during filming.

Elizabeth Debicki
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We are just eight days out from “That One Day Every Couple of Years Where All of Your Friends That Are Fans of the Royal Family Are Unreachable”—also known as the day the sixth and final season of The Crown premieres on Netflix. Part one drops on November 16 and, in a changeup from past seasons, part two debuts on December 14.

We left off at the end of season five with Princess Diana entering the summer of 1997—not knowing, of course, that this would be her final summer, as she would close the season in Paris with Dodi Fayed, who would die alongside her in a car accident that August 31. Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Diana on the show, said that this season’s material was so emotional that some cast members were reduced to tears while filming, The Daily Mail reports. 

Elizabeth Debicki attending an event to promote "The Crown" in a black gown, posing with her hand on her hip

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Debicki characterized the scenes shot in the runup to Diana’s death—while being chased by paparazzi—as “heavy and very manic, and incredibly invasive,” she said. “It was difficult to recreate. At times it’s almost like an animalistic response to being pursued by that many actors playing the press, because there’s nowhere you can go and you only have to be in a situation like that for about a minute before you realize this is completely unbearable.”

Elizabeth Debicki sitting in a director's chair with her legs crossed and her hands together

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Yet, it’s how Diana lived most of her life as the most famous woman in the world for 16 years, from the moment her engagement to then-Prince Charles was announced in 1981 until her death in 1997.

Debicki said filming Diana’s last 24 hours of life was “very demanding”: “I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how people respond to the show,” she said.

Princess Diana in a sleeveless red dress, walking

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Crown is famous for its attention to detail, and Debicki said that the costume designers went to painstaking steps to recreate, in particular, the iconic turquoise swimsuit that Diana wore in one of the most famous photos of her in existence—a photo from that summer, where she sits, alone, at the end of a diving board.

“There was just something about that swimsuit and recreating that moment that felt very sacred, and it was very important we got it right,” Debicki said.

Princess Diana sitting at the end of a diving board in a turquoise swimsuit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Her co-star Khalid Abdalla, who plays Fayed, said that he even walked the route taken by the car the night of the accident to better understand what happened. “There are all sorts of things that I have understood about the geography of what happened on that day that I didn’t understand before doing this, or until doing what I did as I walked the entire trajectory of the car down to the Alma tunnel, back and forward, to understand it,” he said. “It’s a huge responsibility, and I hope audiences, when they see it, feel that we have done it right and honored how sensitive it is.”

The Crown has been fastidious about handling the crash tastefully, and the moment of the accident will not be shown.

Dodi Fayed walking towards the camera in a black blazer, blue shirt, jeans, and boots

Dodi Fayed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonathan Pryce, who plays Prince Philip, said he “could not stop crying” when director Christian Schwochow pieced together clips from the show for the cast to watch about Diana’s death. “Neither could the cameraman who’d filmed it or the director who’d shot it,” Pryce said. “It was an extraordinary moment. It was reliving waking up and listening to the radio.”

Princess Diana's coffin is in front of Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Charles Spencer, Prince William, and Prince Philip on the day of her funeral, September 6, 1997

Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Charles Spencer, Prince William, and Prince Philip on the day of Princess Diana's funeral

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In another scene, Fflyn Edwards, who plays a young Prince Harry, brought Schwochow to tears: “For me in my directing career, it was seeing this 12-year-old actor surrounded by a hundred extras, a hundred shooting crew, and all these star actors, and he just on the first take showed an emotion that just made us all stop breathing,” he said.

Eight days to go.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.