Why the Queen Could Be Upset About Dominic West Playing Prince Charles

Diane Clehane

Despite thinking some of The Crown is "a bit over the top," Queen Elizabeth has historically enjoyed watching the Netflix series about the monarchy in the past. But that might be about to change. The news that actor Dominic West is in talks to play the next Prince Charles on The Crown could be very upsetting for several members of the royal family, particularly Her Majesty. British-born West has surprisingly close ties to the royals, which could make for some uncomfortable moments the next time he visits Buckingham Palace—especially considering the show is about to focus on a very prickly era: the implosion of Charles' marriage to Princess Diana. "If Mr. West plays an unfaithful Prince Charles, neither the Queen or Charles will be pleased," said one Palace insider. Read on to find more, and for the many onscreen depictions of Diana, check out The Definitive Ranking of Every Actor Who's Played Princess Diana.

As reported by Variety, West is in late-stage discussions for the role of the Prince of Wales, but it isn't a done deal just yet. If cast, the actor would play Charles at the height of his affair with then Camilla Parker-Bowles on the final two seasons of the Netflix drama, starring opposite Elizabeth Debicki as Diana. Seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown will be focused on the dissolution of Charles and Diana's marriage in the early '90s, as well as her shocking and tragic death in 1997.

But West is a good friend of Prince Harry and he also has ties to Charles himself. "The Queen will likely not watch [The Crown], but news that someone who is a friend of the family playing such an important role in the series may not sit well with her," said the insider. "The Duke of Sussex may give a look out of curiosity, but that would be a bit awkward."

Dominic West who may play Prince Charles on The Crown
Dominic West who may play Prince Charles on The Crown

West, who is best known for his roles on The Wire and The Affair, accompanied Harry to the South Pole in 2013 to raise money for the London-based charity Walking With the Wounded. At a reception held at Buckingham Palace in November 0f that year for his team of trekkers, Harry introduced Granny to West, who charmed Her Majesty with some playful remarks. According to ITV, the actor asked the Queen if she had been to Antarctica, to which she replied: "Of course not! I can't think of any reason why I'd want to!" West said afterwards, "I thought, Neither can I."

West is also an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, a charity started by Charles in 1967 to help vulnerable and at-risk youth succeed through education and work programs.

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However, the Queen's opinion may not be West's biggest concern right now. He's recently made headlines after he was spotted kissing actor Lily James in Rome, who costars with him on the upcoming BBC Ones series The Pursuit of Love, where he plays James' character's father. After the scandalous photos were published, West and his wife of 10 years, Catherine FitzGerald, put on a show of PDA for the cameras and posted a handwritten note saying their marriage was strong. Since then, more photos of James and West have emerged, and FitzGerald has reported fled for Ireland.

The connection between West's real-life drama and the one he may portray on The Crown is hard not to notice. "The irony isn't lost on anyone," said my source. And for more on Netflix's take on the royals, check out Here's Our First Look at Princess Diana's Wedding in The Crown.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.