In Netflix’s ‘The Crown,’ the audience gets a peek inside the royal family, seeing a more intimate side of the people who are otherwise always at a distance from the general public. The show aims to give the viewers an idea of what it’s like to be a royal, what perks and challenges come with this position, and how powerful or powerless they can be in certain situations. But more importantly, it makes us privy to their emotional side, which comes to the fore in the fourth episode of Season 6 with the death of Princess Diana. Everyone grieves this loss in their own way, but it becomes a cause for concern when Prince William goes AWOL for more than half a day. How much truth is in that scene?
Prince William Being Lost in Balmoral Grounds is Fictional
Even though the creators of ‘The Crown’ rely on thorough research, they don’t exactly have access to any member of the royal family, especially the core members, who would help them get an accurate picture of how someone reacted in a certain situation. A lot of things, especially ones that happen behind closed doors, away from the media scrutiny, or haven’t been talked about by anyone outside of the royal family, have to be imagined. In filling those gaps, the writers often look for something real; even a sliver is enough, which can then be exaggerated to serve the story’s plot and narrative. The same was probably done with Prince William’s arc in the fourth episode of the show.
Prince William was only fifteen years old when his mother passed away. It was an unimaginable loss, made complicated by Diana’s popularity among the masses and her complex standing in the family following her divorce from Charles. The princes, especially William, rarely, if ever, talked about their emotions following Diana’s death, which makes it quite a task for the writers to imagine his reaction in the days that followed the terrible news.
In one of the rare instances that William has spoken of that time, he mentioned that the Scottish outdoors became his haven in that difficult time. “I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died. Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning, and in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors. As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep,” he said. He also talked about feeling “completely numb, disorientated, dizzy” and “very, very confused” in those days while appearing in the documentary ‘Diana, 7 Days.’ He also talked about finding it very difficult “to communicate or understand your feelings,” citing it as a “very complicated” time.
Putting together William’s words, the writers of ‘The Crown’ would have wanted to present this feeling on the screen. It would have been difficult to present someone like William, who isn’t just a boy grieving his mother but a public figure, to process that grief with a family that doesn’t have the history to show emotions, at least not publicly. It must have been isolating and frustrating, and that’s where, perhaps, the idea to show William just walking away from his family for a good fourteen hours and processing his grief in solitude must have come from.
There is no evidence to suggest that William went missing in the days after the news of Diana’s death broke. But it’s not inconceivable either. It’s possible that ‘The Crown’ writers picked up on William finding comfort in the Scottish outdoors that they gave him those fourteen hours in the show roaming Balmoral grounds while his family searched for him. The Balmoral estate is quite huge, and it’s possible that having spent quite some time there his entire life, William would know great hiding spots.
Prior to the scene, we find him overhearing the conversation between the Queen and his father, which makes him angry with Charles as well. This is when perhaps he started to feel the pressure of being a royal and wanted to get away from all of that for a little while, to give some time to his feelings and his grief, rather than thinking about the royal protocol to lay his mother to rest. Considering all this, William getting lost in the woods for a while, even though fictional, appears to be a good way to show his state of mind at the time.