Entertainment TV The Crown left out one key detail from Charles and Diana’s Uluru climb
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The Crown left out one key detail from Charles and Diana’s Uluru climb

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Netflix’s The Crown recreated Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s infamous tour Down Under, but deliberately reimagined one of their most memorable activities.

Back in 1983, their climb up Uluru made the front pages of newspapers and put the world’s focus on outback Australia.

But times have changed.

These days, headlines would be very different should a young royal disrespect the wishes of traditional owners by setting foot on the sacred rock.

Even without the restrictions and danger coronavirus has brought with it this year, producers weren’t keen to risk taking crews to the Northern Territory.

Filming for the royals’ Australia tour instead took place in Almeria and Malaga, located in Spain, Netflix confirmed on Monday.

Visual effects were used to superimpose Uluru – then known as Ayers Rock – on to the backdrop of the Spanish desert. 

Richard Roxburgh, who plays former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in The Crown (and also in the 2010 telemovie, Hawke), said the location was a perfect alternative to filming in Australia. 

“It’s where they shot the vast majority of the spaghetti westerns, so it has this very particular kind of light,” Roxburgh told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

“A desert kind of light, so it worked in that way.”

Netflix said traditional custodian of the land, Reggie Uluru, appeared in archival footage that was approved by Parks Australia, with the streaming giant making a donation to the Mutitjulu community. 

Until recently, visitors had flocked to Alice Springs to climb the world’s largest monolith since the 1960s when a handrail was installed for easy access – much to the disappointment of locals and Indigenous Australians.

After decades of protests leading to a decline in visitors hiking up the rock, Parks Australia finally banned the climbing of Uluru in October 2019, citing its significance as a spiritual place.

The Crown’s depiction of the royal climb, and producers’ commitment to avoid filming at the sacred site, highlights just how far we have come.

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle followed in their parents’ footsteps and chose Australia as the destination for their first international royal tour in 2018, they left Alice Springs off the itinerary entirely.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, who came in 2014, visited Uluru but respectfully left the climb out of their scheduled activities.

This follows a trend in recent years that has seen many of the next generation of royals taking an interest in activism.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been notably vocal about social issues, including feminism, racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.