Dominic West says kiss scandal with Lily James helped with understanding of Prince Charles role

West was still married to Catherine Fitzgerald when he was photographed embracing Lily James passionately in 2020.

Pop Culture & Art April 23, 2024

Actor Dominic West has shed light on the aftermath of his headline-grabbing kiss with co-star Lily James in 2020, detailing the "deeply stressful" impact it had on his wife Catherine FitzGerald and how the experience surprisingly informed his portrayal of Prince Charles in Netflix's The Crown.

Dominic West and Lily James pictured on vacation in 2020 (Courtesy: @MailOnline on X)

Speaking to The Sunday Times' Culture Magazine, West acknowledged the sensitivity of the situation: "I hesitate to speak on my wife's behalf because it was obviously horrible, particularly for her."

He continued with a touch of humor, reflecting, "But we do joke about it sometimes... It was an absurd situation. It was deeply stressful for my wife and my kids, but there were lighter moments. That was the best that came out of it, really."

While Fitzgerald has largely remained silent, West revealed that the incident helped him understand his role as Prince Charles, “I'd had a very acute understanding of what it's like to feel the horror of your name or your photo in the newspapers,” he shared.

Princess Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) from “The Crown” (Courtesy: Netflix)

“There is that dreadful freezing moment when something is revealed about you. I think anyone can understand how that feels. But I'd been through it and it must have informed how I approached [playing Prince Charles]. That gut feeling of horror isn't something you get inured to.”

West went on to describe the public scrutiny he faced mirroring the experience of Prince Charles, whose relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles was constantly covered in tabloids.

In October 2020, photos surfaced of West embracing James passionately during a romantic getaway in Rome. According to the Daily Mail, the pair spent two days together at Hotel De La Ville.

West and James on vacation in 2020 (Courtesy: The Daily Mail)

The images, taken shortly after international travel restrictions were lifted due to the pandemic, prompted a social media frenzy.

West, still married to Fitzgerald at the time, was not wearing his wedding ring in the photos, fueling speculation of a marital breakdown. Reports even claimed Fitzgerald had banned him from speaking to James.

Allegedly in an attempt to quell the rumors, the couple were later photographed, embracing each other outside their Cotswolds home as well.

West and Fitzgerald outside their Cotswalds home (Courtesy: Vanity Fair)

In one of the pictures, they displayed a handwritten message for waiting reporters: “Our marriage is strong and we're very much still together. Thank you.”

West and Fitzgerald’s handwritten message (Courtesy: E! News)

James, for her part, has chosen to address the situation obliquely. During a 2022 interview promoting her role in Hulu's Pam & Tommy, she expressed empathy for Pamela Anderson, who dealt with relentless media scrutiny throughout her career.

Lily James as Pamela Anderson in “Pam & Tommy” (Courtesy: Hulu)

“Women in the public eye at some point experience some sort of difficult situation in their relationship between privacy and your life being in the tabloids,” James shared. “It was a lot. It's a story as old as time.”

While James hasn't directly referenced the Rome incident, her comments hint at the toll the media frenzy took.


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