The passing of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has thrown plans for the next James Bond movie into confusion and laid the groundwork for a rift between the now US-based Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Buckingham Palace and film industry sources tell us that Prince Philip had been picked and signed to fill the role as the next James Bond after undergoing a series of secret auditions prior to his hospitalisation just weeks before his death. (main picture)
The British film company Eon Productions has for many months been quietly searching among royal ranks for a new actor to play secret agent 007 in the next Bond film, tentatively titled Casino Royal, following the decision by Daniel Craig not to continue in the role.
They turned to members of the royal family following the huge success of Her Majesty the Queen’s appearance with “James Bond” in the short video made for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
Industry sources say the Duke of Edinburgh was considered by producers at Eon to be potentially ideal in attracting a larger slice of the baby-boomer market as well as even older audiences.
“He was well known for not being politically correct on numerous occasions, but still retained a huge degree of public affection,” one insider said. “So he would have been the perfect person to play James Bond in the way Sean Connery first made him famous – as a blunt-talking, womanising alpha-male.”
But the 99-year-old Duke’s death sent producers scrambling for a replacement.
We are told they have turned their attention to Meghan Markle who was an actor in her pre-royal and now semi-royal life.
“Meghan she did a fantastic job in her screen test when Eon was making its shortlist,” our industry source said. (pictured)
“But this has created tensions within the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex because Prince Harry had also auditioned and believed the role was his. (pictured)
“Harry was happy for his grandfather to play Bond for the next film in the franchise because he believed it would likely be for just one movie and that he would then fill the role for the following films.
“But now producers have decided that maybe they should take a different tack, especially in light of the Me Too and Black Lives Matter campaigns, so they turned their attention to Meghan and will soon ask her to sign a multi-movie contract.”
Buckingham Palace sources say this has caused enormous strains between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who clearly both want the role.
“Complicating matters is the fact that Her Majesty the Queen – who fondly recalls her 2012 video vignette with Daniel Craig – is herself interested in playing James Bond, or Jamie Bond as the character is likely to be renamed if producers run with a female lead,” one royal source said.