Prince Philip Once Considered Suing Netflix Over an Accusation About Him in "The Crown"

“He was human. He could be hurt like anybody else.”

Prince Philip
(Image credit: Getty)

The Crown—the hit Netflix series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II—released its fifth season earlier this week. But it was an episode in season two of the show that led Prince Philip, who died in 2021, to consider suing Netflix over a 2017 episode that implied he was to blame for his sister Princess Cecile’s death in a plane crash in 1937, Insider reports. He ultimately dropped the matter to not draw further attention to the episode.

Royal commentator and author Hugo Vickers tells The Sunday Times that Philip contacted his lawyers about his desire to seek legal retribution from Netflix, specifically surrounding the episode “Paterfamilias” in season two. “The dramatized retelling of the tragedy portrays a young Philip at his sister’s funeral getting told by his father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, that he was the reason for Cecile’s death,” Insider reports. At the time of Cecile’s death, Philip was only 16 years old.

“He was very upset about the way that was portrayed,” Vickers says. “He was human. He could be hurt like anybody else.”

The episode implies that Cecile, 26 at the time of her death, decided to fly to the U.K. to visit younger brother Philip in boarding school after he got in trouble and was subsequently punished by not being allowed to go to Germany for the holidays, Insider reports. Vickers previously said that the implication of Philip’s involvement in his sister’s death was the “worst assertion” the show has made by far.

“Prince Philip, I do know, was very upset about that episode and the way his family was treated,” Vickers said. 

Ultimately, Philip didn’t sue Netflix, which royal commentator and film critic Richard Fitzwilliams tells Insider wasn’t totally shocking. “The problem with the royal family, the moment they sue, if they decide to sue or if they decide to go to court, it means that there’s the most enormous amount of attention,” he says. “The reason he didn’t do it was because the whole world would’ve heard of this and perhaps some would’ve believed that it might have been true.” 

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.