Season five of The Crown was met with even more scepticism and backlash from royal enthusiasts after its release on Netflix last year. In the midst of the breakdown of Prince Charles’ (played by Dominic West) and Lady Diana Spencer’s (Elizabeth Decki) marriage, the series also explored the friendship between Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce) and Penelope Knatchbull (Natascha McElhone).
TV and film star McElhone opened up Philip and Penny’s bond while maintaining their friendship shouldn’t be misconstrued as romantic.
The British aristocrat known as Countess Mountbatten was introduced in the fifth season of The Crown as a new friend for Queen Elizabeth II’s (Imelda Staunton) husband.
While the series suggests the friendship may have caused a strain on the Queen’s marriage, McElhone believes they kept things completely platonic.
“Forget the real-life story because we were making fiction,” she explained.
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“I was really curious about putting a deep, loving friendship on screen – the kind of friendship that wasn’t predicated on romantic feelings.
“Prince Philip and Penny would do anything for each other.”
Although both were fiercely loyal to each other, The Crown’s writers made sure not to imply any overt romantic feelings between the pair.
In reality, Philip and Penelope became close friends during the 1990s when they started taking part in carriage driving competitions.
In the Radio Times, she said of her lead character Bella Ainsworth: “[She’s] still stuck in a kind of Emily Dickinson poetic world.
“Had she been born in another era, she would have had more confidence and might have run a terrific nightclub, like Ronnie Scott’s.
“I don’t take roles where I feel the female characters are particularly objectified and although Bella isn’t a feminist, she’s very, very strong.”
Outside of her period roles, she also took on a very different performance as Dr Catherine Halsey in last year’s sci-fi series Halo, based on the video game franchise.