The Crown producers sought to mitigate controversy around Claire Foy and Matt Smith’s pay, but what of the stars themselves? Foy has finally issued a queenly response, while co-star Jared Harris wants Left Bank Pictures to cut a check for the “embarrassment.”

It started a few weeks ago when Left Bank producer Suzanne Mackie revealed that Doctor Who alum Smith was paid more for his role as Prince Philip than Foy as Queen Elizabeth, despite Season 2 – either actor’s last – putting their star-power on even keel. Mackie promised that “going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” though the backlash was significant enough that Left Bank publicly apologized for putting the actors in an awkward position. The stars kept silent, though Foy now tells Entertainment Weekly she finds the controversy odder than the disparity:

I’m surprised because I’m at the center of it, and anything that I’m at the center of like that is very very odd, and feels very very out of ordinary. But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’ But I know that Matt feels the same that I do, that it’s odd to find yourself at the center [of a story] that you didn’t particularly ask for.

Some have even called for Smith to donate part of his salary, though others counter that the actor is not to blame for contract negotiations. Crown co-star and Foy’s onscreen father Jared Harris insisted as much in his own statement to Digital Spy, adding “it’s an embarrassment” that Left Bank has not corrected Foy’s takeaway:

It’s got nothing to do with Matt Smith. That’s got to do with Left Bank Pictures. It’s probably nothing to do with Netflix either … That’s a function of the fact that, at the time when they made the deal, Matt Smith would have had a larger profile around the world [than Foy]. But they could’ve, at that point, paid her as much as him. That was their choice. And, right now, they’re probably wishing they did. I think it’s an embarrassment for Left Bank Pictures.

Specifically, Harris notes that Foy worked longer hours than Smith, and is largely responsible for the series’ continued success:

I understand they made an apology but, you know, an apology and a cheque would be more welcome. She deserves to be paid as much as [Smith] was, she worked longer hours. Her performance is a huge reason why this thing is going to have a season 3, 4, 5 and 6. She’s a massive part of it. They should write a cheque, it wouldn’t be that much either what they’re talking about, I’m sure. She wouldn’t have been that far off what he got paid. Send her a pay cheque and, in retrospect, bring her pay up to parity.

Foy is nonetheless excited to see Olivia Colman take the role in Season 3, though Left Bank has not confirmed who will succeed Smith as Philip, after Paul Bettany passed. Stay tuned to see if The Crown heeds Harris’ advice.

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