Dominic West has admitted that he “agonised” over taking on the role of King Charles III in The Crown as it would mean “forgoing” any chance of being knighted.
The British actor starred as the royal – then a prince – in the fifth and sixth seasons of Netflix’s historical royal drama. The final run of episodes, which sees The Crown enter the 21st century and concludes with Charles’s marriage to Camilla (Olivia Williams), arrived on the streamer last week.
While speaking to BBC radio about the final season, West, who had previously met the real Charles through his work with the Prince’s Trust. was asked if he had to consider any potential negatives that could come from playing the part.
“I suppose having to forgo the British Empire Medal that I might have got for services to acting,” he said. “It was alright for [Prince Philip actor Jonathan Pryce], who had already been knighted.”
Pryce was knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth in 2021. His co-stars Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville have both received CBEs.
West explained that he’d met Charles before being cast as the royal, saying: “I have. I’ve done a bit of stuff for the Prince’s Trust so I’ve stood in line and shook his hand a couple of times, so not particularly intimate.”
However, West said that after taking on the role, “those invitations dried up”.
Despite this, the Wire star said that he was drawn to the role of Charles because it was such a challenge.
“Someone like me can’t turn down a part like Charles. He’s so interesting. He’s so complex,” he said. “I did agonise for a while about it, but my wife tells me the result was always inevitable.”
While most members of the royal family have not commented on The Crown, palace officials released a statement in 2019 clear that the royal family has nothing to do with how its members are portrayed in the series.
In an interview, Olivia Colman – who portrayed the Queen before Staunton – recalled an encounter with Prince William where he said that he did not watch the show.
“I met Prince William at a dinner and he asked what I was doing at the moment before he quickly added, ‘Actually, I know what you’re doing,’” she said. “I was so excited and asked, ‘Have you watched it?’ His answer was a firm, ‘No.’ But he was very charming and very lovely.”
Last week, Staunton opened up about her experience of filming the final season of The Crown when the late Queen died.
“Weirdly in the schedule I had 10 days off, which was the 10 days of mourning,” she said. “I was inconsolable that night. Obviously, I would have been sad, but I think it was fueled by living with her for so long. I think when I went back to work people found it hard looking at me.”
The Crown is on Netflix now.