Princess Diana’s Former Butler Paul Burrell Calls Scenes in ‘The Crown’ Depicting Her Fatal Car Accident “Grotesque”

“I’m surprised they’re actually including it.”

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Crown has many, many fans—but Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell is decidedly not one of them.

Part one of the sixth and final season of the Netflix series dropped on Thursday; it resumes in the summer of 1997 and ends with the deaths of Diana, Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul in a Parisian car accident and the immediate aftermath of the crash. (Part two will debut on December 14.) The Crown kept true to its promise that the actual crash itself would not be seen—but that doesn’t mean that other senses aren’t involved in the harrowing moment of impact. (Trying to keep spoilers to a minimum.)

“William and Harry do not want to witness that again,” Burrell said, per OK. “It’s a nightmare that keeps revolving and coming back to haunt them. So they don’t want to see it. I’m surprised they’re actually including it.” 

Princess Diana, Prince William, Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty)

He continued “It still feels macabre to show the vehicle in which she died. I find the whole scene of Diana’s death portrayed in a fictional TV show to be grotesque. I can’t watch that—it’s too graphic and too much. It’s going to upset a lot of people. I find this very difficult, this series. I don’t know if I can watch it. I am going to be critical. I do think the princess was misunderstood. The Diana I knew was a fighter, and she fought for her boys.”

Burrell also took offense to the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth, who is seen in this season being very critical of Diana—which seems out of character to those who knew her. “I knew the Queen very well, and I know she would not want to be portrayed like that,” Burrell said. “She was a warm, kind, loving Gran, and she was the beating heart of our nation.”

Queen Elizabeth

(Image credit: Getty)

Diana’s eldest son, Prince William, has reportedly never watched The Crown; her younger son, Prince Harry, has watched in the past, but Marie Claire reported yesterday that he refuses (understandably) to watch this season.

Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“If Prince William or Prince Harry were to comment on this, it would make headlines, and even more people would watch it than they intended to,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said. “Whether they would watch such a thing, I have no idea, of course. The King will make absolutely no comment at all. I think the royal family decided long ago what they think of The Crown—that it seems to have totally forsaken taste.”

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.