The Crown: Mistakes That Are Hard To Ignore
The Crown Season 3 just premiered and everyone is discussing it! So if you hope to watch the series without spoilers, hurry up. For those who already have watched the show, we’re ready to break down the latest episodes. While we’re waiting for Season 4 of The Crown, let’s find out how accurate its creators have been with the historical facts!
Did it really happen? Is something you must have asked after watching Princess Margaret party hard with US President? Is it true that Prince Charles was forced to leave Camilla or was that totally made up? And what shocking fact from the 1970s about Princess Anne was left on the cutting room floor by showrunners? We’re going to dispel your doubts abouе the Crown!
An unusual long dinner
It's not a secret that Princess Margaret was really fond of the decadent lifestyle. Although the part where she kisses Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House sounds a little far-fetched. So is there any truth to the story behind that sparkling party we saw on Netflix?
Well, Princess Margaret did meet the President. And the dinner went longer than usual. What we know for sure is that The New York Times reported on this occasion back in 1965. In fact, Margaret and her husband did not leave until 1:35 in the morning. But there wasn’t even the hint of a rumor that the dinner turned into anything similar to the wild shindig shown in the Crown.
Did she really insult Kennedy or any other American official? It's not likely... however she DID have a sharp tongue. One light-hearted example just how cutting she could be was when she described Elizabeth Taylor's engagement ring as being... vulgar. And we’re sorry to disappoint you but Princess Margaret did not get a bailout of a thousand million dollars that night.
Historical data shows that the bailout issues and awkward relationship between the Johnson administration and Wilson’s tenure as Prime Minister continued for years after Margaret's visit. Harold Wilson met President Johnson a handful of times. Although one thing was exactly as the series depicted it: Lyndon Baines Johnson remains the only U.S. President who never met Queen Elizabeth II during her reign. Why? Well, this remains a mystery. The leaders did correspond on official matters but neither of them invited the other for an actual meeting, not once.
The Russian spy in Buckingham Palace
Ok, moving on from American mysteries to the Russian ones... What’s the deal with the "KGB"? It is difficult to believe but there was indeed a Russian spy in Buckingham Palace. And it was none other than... Prime Minister Harold Wilson! No, of course. Though it is true that numerous conspiracy theories and investigations about Wilson and Russian intelligence really took place at the time. The truth is that Harold Wilson was quite open towards the Soviet Union, especially in the early days of his political career and, as a matter of fact, the KGB really did consider him as a potential target for recruitment. But it really went no further than that.
Mr. Anthony Blunt, on the other hand, really was a Russian spy… According to the archives, Blunt provided the Soviets with more than a thousand secret documents during World War II. After the War, he decided to change his career and left the world of espionage to work as the Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures. And boy, was he successful at that. Moreover, he would eventually be given a knighthood.
But the spy was detected by the government. And the showrunners of the Crown accurately depicted what happened next. The royals' hands were naturally tied because of the fear of exposing Blunt as a spy. So, to keep the secret, Blunt was offered immunity in exchange for a confession and cooperation in ongoing investigations. Sounds surreal, doesn’t it? But there’s no fiction to this particular true tale.
The weird documentary
Enough with the spies, let's focus on the Royal family itself and see what exactly went wrong with that weird documentary in the Bubbikins episode. One summer night in 1969, the BBC broadcast a documentary simply titled Royal Family and even the Queen couldn’t have foreseen anything bad about it... In reality, it was Lord Brabourne who suggested the idea of filming a documentary. Lord Brabourne is the son-in-law of the royal cousin Lord Mountbatten...if that does not make your life easier, let's just say the man is Prince Philip's Uncle. Apparently, to simplify all of that, the directors of the Crown decided to make Prince Philip the main initiator of the filming, which sounds wise to us.
The documentary was meant to help remind the British people about the special relevance of the Royal Family. As you know, it did not. If you aren't one of the lucky ones who saw the film on-air, or one of those who got the chance to catch up with the 105 minute film in recent years, well, then all that's left for you are short clips that were specially made for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 7 years ago... Most of the original documentary remains locked away from public use.
In one of the short clips, you can see that unfortunate scene with the family enjoying a barbecue at Balmoral Castle in Scotland: ah, Prince Philip looks so happy flipping his steaks. By the way, Princess Anne predicted that this event would be “an absolute total guaranteed failure” but no one listened to her back then. Actually, the Palace seemed to have been delighted with the documentary... at first. It showed them as a real, modern family with a very busy and responsible Queen. But that was before the Royals heard the audience response. No wonder, then, that the Queen has forbidden to show the film after that.
And what about the storyline with Princess Alice in the very same episode, was that true? Hardly... We're sad to say but Princess Alice did not give an interview to anyone called “John Armstrong” of The Guardian... The elderly Princess Alice really did live at Buckingham Palace, though. But she moved in the year before filming started and, yeah, it seems like she got really close with her son at the end of her life, as is sympathetically shown at the end of the episode.
Did the Queen cry?
Talking of sympathy. Many fans were furious with the series because it showed The Queen faking tears at the Aberfan coal-tip tragedy. In the series, the Queen is shown with a napkin near her eye after talking to the bereaved but later confesses to the Prime Minister that she dabbed a bone-dry eye and by some miracle no one noticed. Some even dug through the archives to try and find proof that the Queen actually cried.
Talking about Aberfan, Sir William Heseltine, who served in the royal press office at the time, revealed in a documentary about the Queen that Aberfan was one of the few occasions in which Her Highness shed tears in public. Another witness of the tragedy Sir Mansel Aylward stated: “The one thing I recall about the Aberfan disaster was the arrival of the Queen and how it made her cry.”
And on the day of the Season 3 release, Harold Wilson's then-press secretary Joe Haines called the idea of the fake tears "absolute nonsense." The Crown often delivers valuable historical issues in a really convincing fashion but sometimes, unfortunately, the show fails to include some crucial details.
Charles and Camilla’s love story
And that’s what happened with Charles and Camilla’s love story. "Never turn your back on true love" says the Duchess of Windsor to Prince Charles at the beginning of episode 9. And Charles seemed to take her advice and tries to do everything to save his relationship with Camilla. But the Royal Family seemed to puppeteer the couple for the sake of the Crown. Well, that's what we see in the series.
How dare they separate those sweethearts?! - some of the fans might say.... though, hm... if these two weren’t separated, we wouldn’t have Diana… or William, or Harry... And that’s very hard to imagine. This story is probably the most confusing one and it's all before we even meet Princess Diana...
So what do the history books say about Charles and Camilla's relationship? The Crown is correct in showing that Camilla Shand dated Andrew Parker-Bowles before she met Prince Charles. And yes, Parker-Bowles dated Princess Anne for a short period of time. But stating that the Queen Mother and Lord Mountbatten would organize such a manipulative plan isn’t that likely.
One strike against it is that the Queen Mother didn't really like Uncle Dickie all that much, so watching them plot anything together is already out of the ordinary. Another strike is that Prince Charles broke up with Camilla before his imminent assignment abroad since he knew it was on the horizon.
We think you’d probably agree with us when we say that the Crown found a rather novel point of view regarding the infamous love triangle and that such a turn of events definitely has us hooked for season 4 where Princess Diana finally appears! However, most of the relationships on the show don't really mirror reality and this one was NO exception. Neither was the one portrayed between Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon. But let's unpack why...
The timelines problems
Timelines! Here is where things get seriously confusing. For instance, the mutual trip we see Roddy and Margaret take in the episode Cri de Coeur, actually took place 4 years later than it depicted on the Crown. We know that for sure thanks to all those paparazzi photos that were published in 1976.
But we get it... the series should follow all the drama and move us as an audience, so the chronology is less important but the mixed-up timeline does leave us confused about the motives behind Princess Margaret's depression. It’s not true to say that Princess Margaret's incident with the pills happened because of her final quarrel with husband. In fact, the two separated back in 1973 before Margaret even started her romance with Roddy.
Margaret's incident happened after private photos of Roddy and Margaret caused a scandal in the press and Roddy broke off the relationship by traveling to Turkey without his Princess. To make matters worse, the tabloids of the time portrayed the Princess as a predatory older woman cheating on her poor husband.
By 1972, it was Tony who had already begun an affair with his production assistant Lucy. What we can say is that the whole story is rather depressing... but at least Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon's divorce granted some freedom to the members of the Royal Family as it was previously almost a total taboo to divorce a Royal.
And there’s one more thing that bothers us about the episode finale. If the showrunners decided to show at least 4 years of the Royal Family's lives in the ‘70s How did they miss one of the most important events in Queen Elizabeth's life during that period? We’re talking, of course, about the accident that happened to Princess Anne.
In 1974, Anne was the victim of a failed kidnapping attempt - something that became a huge scandal and was incredibly stressful for the main character of the series. Still, we hear absolutely nothing about it. Is that fair? What are your thoughts about the writers leaving out this incident?
Are you a fan of The Crown? If so, let's see what we know about the personal lives of the show's cast. Why does Olivia Colman call her role in the Crown the worst job in the world? What special romantic addiction does Helena Bonham Carter have in common with Princess Margaret? We'll tell you!