Season 4 of The Crown gifted us with Emma Corrin’s Diana Spencer, a warm and welcome presence in the otherwise frosty Buckingham Palace. Where the fictional royal family was icy and emotionally stunted, Corrin’s Princess Di was open-hearted and vulnerable. She was easy to latch onto and even easier to fall in love with, especially as her marriage went down a path of tragedy.
In its most hopeful moments, her whirlwind romance with Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) seemed to have some potential, but it was always poisoned by Charles’ infatuation with the married Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennel). Even worse was his jealousy. Diana was immediately embraced by the people of Britain, and just as quickly by the rest of the world. Just like the audience, the public latched onto her warmth, which none of the other family members could ever muster to offer. All the attention she received soured any chance for her relationship with Charles, who could never see past his own envy. And despite the many factors dooming their relationship, Diana continued to try.
In the penultimate episode of the season, titled “Avalanche,” Diana surprised the Prince with a VHS recording of herself singing Phantom of the Opera‘s “All I Ask of You.” In the episode, only a brief clip is shown, but Netflix has unlocked the vault to throw us a bone — the full video of Corrin’s performance as Diana. Check it out below.
All I Ask of You
In the clip, Diana sits down to watch the performance. We’re transported into the dazzling, intimate performance along with her and blissfully swept away until reality returns with the harsh TV static. The noise serves as an abrupt reminder of the fact that, ultimately, the gift doesn’t work.
It may be delivered through an elaborate performance, onstage and in costume, but Diana’s plea isn’t especially veiled. As clearly as it can, the song begs Charles to let her be his beloved. Diana sings, “Let me be your freedom / Let daylight dry your tears / I’m here, with you, beside you / To guard you and to guide you” in an effort to get his attention, but it’s to no avail.
In fact, the scene in the show ends with Charles speaking to his sister on the phone, complaining about having to endure Diana’s gift. He declared, “It was monstrous! A video of Diana singing some dreadful song in some dreadful musical.”
His response was fairly predictable, given how similarly he reacted to Diana’s prior stage debut. In an earlier episode, she performed Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” onstage as a gift to her husband and he responded with rage, citing the public nature of it and complaining that she simply wanted attention. In turn, she made her second performance private, a video just for them. And Charles’ response says it all: his issue wasn’t with the spectacle, but with her. Charles has already given up on the marriage — and barely believed in it, to begin with — so winning him over is out of the question.
But it’s Charles’ loss, because Diana’s performance showcases the very best of Corrin’s tenure as the Princess — captivating, compassionate, and remarkably talented.
The Story Behind The Song
The scene was mentioned to Corrin during her audition and she surprised the producers by revealing “All I Want” as one of her favorite songs. They responded by pulling up a YouTube karaoke track and asking her to sing on the spot. Her performance blew them away.
As for performing the song for the show, Corrin has since described it as a stressful experience. She told Vulture:
“I had a complete panic attack, which was actually not very fun on the day. I trained as a singer, but it was weird because I had to sing like Diana and also worse than I can, which was very strange, because she wasn’t trained. I did about two [takes] and I had a complete panic attack, I had a nosebleed. I had a proper, like, a proper breakdown. I went downstairs and they were so sweet. They were like, ‘You don’t have to do it. You can do it tomorrow.’ And I was like, ‘You can’t do it tomorrow! We’ve hired a theater!’ They were very lovely, but I did it. I did it a lot of times.”
In addition to just being a lovely watch, the release of the full performance doubles as a beautiful send-off to Corrin’s performance as Princess Diana. In the upcoming season 5, Elizabeth Debecki will fill the role of the slightly older Princess, along with Dominic West as Prince Charles and Imelda Staunton as The Queen.
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