Widow criticises The Crown over avalanche episode

The wife of Hugh Lindsay, who was killed while skiing with Prince Charles, had asked show not to feature the disaster

The widow of a British army major who died in an avalanche while skiing with Prince Charles has criticised the producers of The Crown as “unkind” for dramatising the disaster against her wishes.

Major Hugh Lindsay, a former Queen’s equerry, was skiing off-piste at the Swiss resort of Klosters in 1988 with a group including senior royals when disaster struck, with his friend the Prince of Wales and others reported to have dug snow with their hands in a vain attempt to save his life.

After the Crown episode entitled Avalanche was made available for streaming last week, Lindsay’s widow, Sarah Horsley, has revealed she had asked Netflix not to adapt the disaster for television.

“I was horrified when I was told [the episode] was happening and was very concerned about the impact on my daughter,” she told the Sunday Telegraph.

“I’m very upset by it and I’m dreading people seeing it. I wrote to them asking them not to do it, not to use the accident. I suppose members of the royal family have to grin and bear it, but for me it’s a very private tragedy.”

She added that the producers replied with “a very kind letter”, saying “that they understood my concerns, but they hope I will feel that they deal with difficult subject matters with integrity and great sensitivity”.

However, Horsley said: “I think it’s very unkind to many members of the family [to dramatise the accident].”

Netflix’s description of the episode reads: “Charles is caught in a deadly avalanche, and he and Diana are prompted to reevaluate their commitment to their troubled marriage.”

At the time of the disaster, Horsley was pregnant with their daughter Alice and still working at her job in the press office at Buckingham Palace. She did not go on the ski trip and stayed at their south London home.

Charles, who went on to become a godfather to Alice, later wrote: “I still find it hard to understand why I survived and he didn’t.”

Patti Palmer-Tomkinson, another friend of the Prince, received severe injuries to both of her legs and her lungs. Princess Diana, who was also on the holiday, was not on the slopes when the avalanche hit and had stayed at their chalet in Davos, along with Sarah, Duchess of York.

The group then flew back to London, where a guard of honour from Major Lindsay’s regiment met his coffin.

Netflix has also faced criticism over the historical accuracy of its script, with calls for it to be accompanied by a disclaimer explicitly stating that some events have been embellished. The scriptwriter, Peter Morgan, has said: “Sometimes you have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”

The Times reported this week that friends of the Prince of Wales had described the show as exploitative and inaccurate. “This is trolling with a Hollywood budget,” a source said.

Netflix was contacted for comment.


Mattha Busby

The GuardianTramp

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