The Crown’s Sir Jonathan Pryce has defended Prince Philip against claims that he was a racist, saying that instead he was a ‘product of his time.’
Taking over the role of the late Prince, who was played by Tobias Menzies and Matt Smith in the previous seasons, Sir Jonathan is front and centre alongside Imelda Staunton as the Queen in season five.
This time around, it will follow what would come to be an explosive period for the Royal family—the 1990s.
When researching his role, Sir Jonathan undertook his usual practice of trying to seek out the weaknesses and eccentricities of his character he was playing.
However, he said he didn’t find any in the Duke of Edinburgh.
‘The first thing young people say about him is that he was racist. Far from it. He was a product of a time when there was casual racism but I don’t think he was racist at all,’ Sir Jonathan told the Telegraph.
‘He was highly intelligent, curious, and in his time innovative.
‘He toured, lectured, spoke, encouraged. Though he felt hidebound by being part of the monarchy, he did what he could.’
While he once held a very different opinion of the Prince, Sir Jonathan said speaking those close to him was enlightening.
‘I had seen him as not very outgoing, quite aloof, but when I started to talk to people who knew him it was clear that he was a great person to spend time with, very funny, very full of life,’ he said.
‘No one I spoke to had a bad word to say.’
His defence comes after he also voiced his ‘disappointment’ at ‘fellow artistes’ over their reaction to the upcoming season.
After Dame Judi Dench and Sir John expressed their distaste for the series in recent weeks, Sir Jonathan said he understood Sir John expressing his ‘disquiet’, but was still saddened by the backlash.
‘I’m hugely disappointed by my fellow artistes,’ he told Deadline.
‘The vast majority of people know it’s a drama. They’ve been watching it for four seasons.’
The Crown season 5 premieres on Netflix on November 9.