Is Duncan Muir Based on a Real British Photographer in The Crown?

Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ follows the story of the British Royal Family, focusing on the trials and tribulations that fall on the person whose head wears the crown. While the show relies on extensive research and accounts from people who have worked closely with Buckingham Palace, there are times when the show has to resort to fictional things to enhance the story. Sometimes, real-life people are morphed into a single character, while other times, an entirely new character is concocted to get the point across. Duncan Muir is one of them. SPOILERS AHEAD

Duncan Muir is a Fictional Addition to The Crown’s Realistic Tale

Duncan Muir is introduced in the second episode of ‘The Crown’ Season 6. The episode, titled ‘Two Photographs,’ presents two sides of the story, one that follows Diana and the other that follows Charles and the rest of the royal family. The primary conflict lies in the presentation of the two pictures and what they represent, one of which is taken by Duncan Muir.

Muir is presented as a Scottish photographer who mainly does portraits for a living. However, he has a deep sense of love and loyalty to the British crown, and he likes to click pictures of the royal family. He doesn’t do it for money, unlike other photographers like Mario Brenna, who make millions out of controversial pictures, often clicked by invading the privacy of their subjects. Muir’s photos are supposed to be for his own collection, and the photos always present the royal family in a flattering light. He is particularly fixated on the Queen and has been such a regular at her appearances that she recognizes him by name.

57-year-old Duncan Muir is in stark contrast to Mario Brenna, who is ready to go to whatever lengths to get the picture that will make him a lot of money. From Brenna’s perspective, it’s just another part of the job, and it’s nothing to fret about too much. He only cares about how famous his subject is and how controversial their picture is. Following the story from Brenna’s point of view, the audience sees the dark side of the paparazzi, which sets the ground for the next episode, where tragedy strikes Diana.

The pictures taken from his perspective show the audience how the world already sees the royal family and other celebrities through a biased lens. To balance this narrative, the show presents us with Muir, who is also biased, in a way, but it counterbalances Brenna’s bias (and of photographers like him) towards Diana and the royals. Muir’s dedication to the royal family becomes the reason behind his getting the job when Charles decides to get some pictures of his own.

Image Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix

In real life, Charles, William, and Harry did do a photoshoot, but it was most likely not some return attack or Charles’ move to spite Diana. Around the same time that Diana and Dodi’s pictures did the rounds in newspapers, Prince Charles and his sons did a photoshoot by the River Dee at Balmoral with their two dogs, William’s Widgeon and Charles’s Tigga. However, the pictures were not taken by someone named Duncan Muir. Considering all this, it’s fair to say that the writers of ‘The Crown’ created the fictional character of Muir to balance the aspects of the episode and give the audience something to think about with respect to celebrity culture.

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