The Way Ahead
In episode 5 of The Crown Season 5, Charles – who is aware that he will one day become king – is particularly frustrated with the nobility across the board. Everything he does, from requesting a divorce with Diana to breaking a move with the youngsters, demonstrates his determination to endure abuse from a new beginning and a new structure.
At a dinner party, his guests are at a loss for how to react to Charles’ self-pitying monologue until one of them brings up the good services he accomplishes through his non-profit organization, The Prince’s Trust, which provides Community Centres and scholarships to underprivileged kids. Charles is understandably proud of it because it’s another wonderful thing he can call his own.
This episode demonstrates that Camilla Parker-Bowles, who is portrayed by Olivia Williams, seems to be the only person who has stood by Charles throughout all of his hardships. Charles has been openly complaining all season over how underutilized he is among the royals. Williams finally has her opportunity to speak through this episode, while her first significant interaction with Charles takes place over the phone during the holidays in 1989 when he calls to get her advice about a speech he’s written to give at Oxford.
Camilla serves as both his copy editor and mental comforter. Next, a person with some sort of radio interception equipment is seen modifying the frequency and listening in on a bunch of conversations until he stumbles into Charles and Camilla’s discussion, which ultimately derails into phone sex. When he recognizes the prince’s voice, this person understands how lucky he is and starts his tape player.
The man takes the chat to the Daily Mirror newspaper, who acknowledges that it is a jackpot but decides against making it public just yet.
In 1989, there was an understanding that if the Daily Mirror published the tape recordings, they would be held responsible for the collapse of Charles and Diana’s relationship. As a result, they decided to keep their options open and hang onto the audio until the right moment to release them. Once Diana and Charles’ separation news was made public about three years later, that window of opportunity emerged and they grabbed it with both hands.
Diana only appears throughout this episode’s reaction sequences during Charles’s major public demonstrations so that the audience can see that, despite their split, she is still affected by what he speaks and does. Conversely, Charles appears unshackled by the split, as per his mother, the queen, and as a consequence, he begins ridiculing the task force that his parents put together and called “The Way Ahead”, which has been established to aid in modernizing the monarchy’s practices. According to Charles, it scarcely addresses the genuine and significant concerns that the monarchy is frequently condemned for overlooking.
His sudden boldness appears precisely when the Mirror prepares to share the audio of Charles and Camilla declaring their “need” for each other on a regular basis, along with the specific quote from him expressing his need to reside within Camilla’s trousers. Above everything else, the exchange is absurd and silly, and when everybody in England wakes up the following morning, notably his separated wife, she is far from feeling vindicated by this evidence of Charles’ infidelity; rather, it only serves to reinforce her belief that he had never truly loved her.
Although she confesses to being somewhat repulsed by the entire situation, Princess Anne informs her brother once she visits to comfort him regarding the transcripts of the recording that it carried the feel of “two teenagers of a certain age being so gloriously human and in love”.
In retaliation to the negative media coverage, Charles decides to generate some positive press by participating in a television documentary concerning his life.
The documentary Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role, which was filmed over the course of 18 months from 1992 to 1994, included conversations between Charles and renowned TV host Jonathan Dimbleby. Charles was somewhat upfront concerning his extramarital affair, informing Dimbleby that he had been faithful until it became evident that the union just could not be saved, during which point he revived his relationship with Camilla.
Despite earning some appreciation for his liberal beliefs, Charles was not completely honest about his sexual promiscuity. Furthermore, the royal family is not pleased with any of his statements, but he appears unconcerned with their criticisms.
Diana is furious as she sees the interview, fully aware that Charles is making things up. After the episode aired, she’s spotted leaving a fundraiser in what would later be labelled her “revenge dress”. Factually, Diana donned the outfit the very same evening that the documentary premiered at the Serpentine Gallery gala.
Anne, who had backed her brother throughout the aftermath of the telephone sex scandal, appears to be less of a supporter now that his conversation has been aired. Charles still believes that the reason people are interested in him is because of his cutting-edge viewpoints on the arts, academia, and the environment.
On seeing Charles, Anne returns home to tell her folks about his actions. She reveals to the elder royals that although he may be as crazy as everyone believes, he is not as frail. She goes on to tell them that he not only possesses the necessary skills for the job but in some ways, he has already begun which throws the royals off the edge.
Charles addresses the kids whose schooling he has aided through The Prince’s Trust when the episode almost wraps up. A bunch of students are seen dancing on the floor as the scene starts to fade and then pops up. Charles joins in after being encouraged to do so by everyone there.
The Episode Review
The Crown Season 5 is set in the early 1990’s, a time when the people’s opinion of the nobility was declining. The episode blatantly exemplifies long-standing issues with relationship dynamics, marriage, and propriety within the system because those in authority fear that if the general populace learns about divorce, it would severely damage Britain itself.
Throughout this episode, Morgan makes us feel deeper empathy toward Charles. Charles’ image is partially restored after this chapter as a result. As the successor to the throne for so many years, he is depicted as enthusiastic, brimming with ideas, and reasonably frustrated.
As per The Crown’s timeframe, Charles was compelled into the Jonathan Dimbleby interview wherein he admitted to infidelity because of the Tampongate controversy showcased in this episode brilliantly with a hint of emotions.
Up until now, Camilla seems to have been a minor character but starting with this chapter, she certainly takes on more weight.