The Crown Season 4: Separating Fact From Fiction

How did Diana and Prince Charles really meet? Did the future Princess of Wales actually roller skate in Buckingham Palace? And was the Queen ever rude to Margaret Thatcher? Let's find out the truth behind the events of The Crown Season 4! (Don't miss out! The end of the article includes all the reported reactions the royal family have had to the show!)

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II at the Guards Polo Club, Smiths Lawn


THE ‘MAD TREE’ EPISODE

Amazingly, Prince Charles really did date Diana’s older sister, Sarah! Their relationship was short-lived, with Sarah reportedly once claiming she wouldn't marry the Prince of Wales "if he were the dustman or the King of England." On the show, Charles first meets Diana when he arrives to take her sister out on a date.


But, in real life the meeting happened when he accompanied Sarah to a grouse hunt. So – no, sorry guys, it didn't go down as the meet-cute portrayed on-screen, and there was no ‘mad tree’ costume! That was totally an invention of the showrunner Peter Morgan. Still, Charles was impressed by Diana when they first met.

Image Credits: Getty Images


Speaking of their meeting, he recalled, “I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything.” Unfortunately for Diana, something was transferred to the screen correctly - Charles' awkward words of “whatever in love means” in their post-engagement interview.


DIANA’S KNOWLEDGE OF CHARLES’ AFFAIR

From the show we learn that Charles and Diana barely knew each other before they got married. And that is true. Diana reckoned that she met her future husband only about a dozen times before they walked down the aisle - and that includes official events!

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Prince Charles and Diana at Elysee Palace, French Tour, 1988


Also, throughout the couple’s courtship, there was evidence of Camilla’s closeness to the Prince of Wales. Diana and Charles would stay with Camilla and her husband Andrew Parker Bowles for the weekends. Moreover, Diana witnessed how her fiancé hurried to talk to Camilla the night before his departure to New Zealand.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Tim Graham / Charles and Camilla at their Royal Marriage Blessing At Windsor Castle, 2005


“I was in his study talking to him about his trip,” she recalled. According to Diana: In Her Own Words, “The telephone rang. It was Camilla. Just before he was going for five weeks. It just broke my heart.” And the story about a special bracelet being commissioned by the Prince for Camilla, which Diana finds is true.


Not only that, the cufflinks he wore from Camilla during his and Diana's honeymoon is also true. Woah! "Boy, did we have a row. Jealousy, total jealousy.” Diana shared. “And it was such a good idea the two C's, but it wasn't that clever." No wonder such painful moments made it into the series!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Diana and Charles during their wedding, Buckingham Palace


THE BALMORAL TEST

It’s common knowledge that the Queen loves her Scottish estate, Balmoral and uses it to test officials. A lot of ministers went there – but everybody wasn't thrilled by the opportunity. Margaret Thatcher definitely had no interest in posh country pursuits like hunting! And, according to her biographer Charles Moore, aspects of this visit depicted on the show are “surely wrong.”


But he does believe that the “broad impression has the ring of truth.” By the way, there actually was an incident with Queen Victoria’s chair, but it wasn’t the Prime Minister who violated the unwritten rule of sitting in it, but a girlfriend of Charles’. And Diana really did win the royal family over during her first visit to Balmoral.


THE ROYALS’ TRUE FEELINGS ABOUT DIANA

The 4th season makes it clear that Prince Philip took his son’s new girlfriend under his wing. Many people recalled how he came to her aid, sitting next to her at black-tie dinners and chatting to her while she learned to master the art of small talk. But Diana's relationship with the rest of the Royal Family wasn't as warm.


Years later, the Princess revealed that she always panicked when she had to go to Balmoral. “The first couple of days everything's wonderful," she recalled. "By the third day they're sapping me again. There are so many negative atmospheres. That house sucks one dry." Just as it was shown on the show, Charles’ sister and Diana didn’t get along.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mirrorpix / Charles and Prince Philip at the passing out parade in Cranwell


The documentary, The Real Princess Anne claims that Anne was "extremely annoyed when Diana became centre stage.” She thought that Diana lessened their stature. However, the Princess of Wales was reportedly close with Prince Andrew and found a sympathetic figure in Princess Margaret, whom she called "Margo." But there's no evidence that Margaret spoke up against Charles and Diana’s marriage.


DIANA’S HONEST STRUGGLE 

Amazingly, it was the actress who portrayed Diana, Emma Corrin, who asked the show's writers to highlight the late Princess’ ongoing battle with an eating issue. "We were trying to depict [the eating issues] in an honest way," she explained to People. "Otherwise it's a disservice to anyone who has been through that."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jacopo Raule / Emma Corrin at the 77th Venice Film Festival


Diana herself revealed that it started the week after she got engaged to Charles. "My husband put his hand on my waistline and said, 'Oh, a bit chubby here, aren't we?' and that triggered off something in me." Tragically, her "secret disease" became an "escape mechanism" from what was going on in her marriage.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Diana and Charles after announcing their engagement, London


BUCKINGHAM PALACE BREAK-IN

Surprisingly, it’s true that there was an intruder in the Queen’s bedroom. However, the story was slightly exaggerated. The culprit, Michael Fagan and the Queen did not have a long conversation about Thatcher as was shown in the series. The police reports state that he was too nervous to say anything and just sat there until he was taken away.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Chris Jackson / The Queen at the State Banquet at the Philharmonic Hall, Slovakia


According to Fagan, The Crown “used a lot of artistic licence.” He still maintains he can’t explain the reasons why he broke in, although he was frustrated by joblessness and the break-up of his marriage. So, the writers thought his character could be a perfect vessel through which to represent a lot of people of that period.

Image Credits: YouTube / Popcorn Talk / Tom Brooke Interview at the Preacher Season 1 Premiere


ROLLER SKATING IN THE PALACE

It was one of the most charming moments of the show when the future Princess of Wales roller skated through Buckingham Palace while listening to Duran Duran on her Walkman. Corrin likes to think that she could have done that because Diana was known to be a roller-skating, pop-music fan.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Anwar Hussein / Diana during the Tour of Australia, 1988


The show’s producer, Oona O’Beirn, also revealed that, according to the team’s research, Diana actually rode her bicycle inside the palace the night before she got married! So, the writers thought that it would be a nice touch to remind the viewers that Diana was only 19 at that time.

Image Credits: YouTube / Netflix / The Crown Season 4 Trailer


CHARLES’ JEALOUSY OF DIANA’S POPULARITY

An entire episode is dedicated to Charles and Diana's first major tour through Australia and New Zealand. It was a turning point in their marriage. During her BBC1 interview in 1995, Diana said she and Charles were "very much" in love during that six-week tour, but the pressure on them both as a couple with the media was “phenomenal.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Charles and Diana at the Australian tour, 1983


AN ACT

According to the book, The Diana Chronicles, the Princess was aware of the public's preference for her at the time, but "felt very uncomfortable with it.” However, insiders say that she enjoyed upstaging her husband and knew it got on his nerves. With Camilla and Charles flaunting their affair, we really can’t blame Diana.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Diana and Charles at the Royal Tour of Canada, 1983


“As professional royal performers they were unbeatable," revealed Diana’s former press secretary, Patrick Jephson. "But behind the scenes it was quite different.” Turns out the couple really didn't talk to each other much. There was minimal eye contact between them and they were short tempered with each other. Oh no!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Princess Diana


BREAKING ROYAL PROTOCOLS

When Diana was first introduced to the royal family, it was impossible to predict that she would become a rule-breaker. The Crown Season 4 depicted one of the first and finest examples of it, as the Princess of Wales insisted her infant son accompany the couple on their Commonwealth tour.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Diana and Prince William during the Australian tour, New Zealand


However, some sources say that it was Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who actually suggested that the Prince and Princess of Wales should bring little William along with them. And, despite the way it was depicted on the show, Charles also agreed ahead of time that it was a good idea.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Diana, Harry, William and Charles during the Tour of Italy, 1985


THE HIDDEN ROYAL COUSINS

One of the major shockers of season 4 is the story of the Queen’s cousins. It was devastating to learn that Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon were secretly placed in a mental health institution and listed as dead, while in fact they were still alive!


This particular storyline is true. But, as shown on the show, it wasn’t Princess Margaret who discovered the whole thing. Actually, it was uncovered by the media after Nerissa’s demise in the mid-1980s. The Queen never commented on the revelation, with the palace citing it as a private matter for the Bowes-Lyon family.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Tim Graham Photo Library / Margaret at A Pony Day At Ascot


THE IRON LADY VS THE QUEEN

One of the storylines of The Crown’s season 4 addresses tensions between the monarch and her first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Their relationship was seen as frigid. The two outstanding ladies reportedly often held conflicting views, including sanctions against South Africa.

Image Credits: Youtube/Netflix


Newspapers everywhere claimed to reveal the Queen’s opinion about her PM as “uncaring, confrontational and socially divisive.” According to the show, the press secretary, Michael Shea was blamed for the article and had to quit his long-time job. However, in reality, he denied being the source of the leak and left the palace only the following year.

Image Credits: YouTube / Netflix / The Crown Season 4 Trailer


Meanwhile the Queen and Thatcher reportedly had a "very amicable conversation” over the misunderstanding. By the way, the story about Margaret Thatcher's missing son is based on real-life events. He did go missing in the desert. However, the show’s timing of it happening “just as the Falklands were invaded” is not true.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jean Guichard / Margaret Thatcher for L'Express


DIANA DANCING TO “UPTOWN GIRL”

As we already know from the roller-skating episode, Diana loved pop music. She also did ballet and took lessons at Kensington Palace. But it was a surprise for the majority of The Crown’s audience to see her on the stage of the Royal Opera House! Diana and ballet star, Wayne Sleep did actually perform a surprise dance for her husband.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Levenson / Charles and Diana at their honeymoon in Balmoral


The viewers were delighted! But unfortunately, the Prince was upset with how Diana pushed the boundaries of royal propriety. “It was a present which slightly backfired," recalled royal expert Richard Kay. “Charles wasn’t terribly impressed. He thought she was showing off.” And what about Diana’s other present – a video of her singing a song from The Phantom of the Opera?

Image Credits: YouTube / Netflix / The Crown Season 4 Trailer


Actually, here the show creators took some artistic licence. According to The Crown’s head of research, Diana did visit The Phantom of the Opera’s West End set with the author of the musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, it is unclear whether she sang or danced, or whether such a video ever existed.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jayne Fincher / Diana and Charles at Chelsea Flower Shower


DIANA’S AFFAIRS

On the show, we are quickly debriefed on all of Diana's alleged affairs thanks to Anne's chat with the Queen. We even see Captain James Hewitt sneak in and out of Kensington Palace. Diana actually confirmed their affair during a BBC program in 1995, saying, "I adored him. I was in love with him, but I was very let down."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Tim Graham Photo Library / Diana and Princess Anne at the Derby in Epsom


Reportedly, their romance lasted for five years. Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, revealed that, "Hewitt, a natural womanizer, gave her the attention and affection she relished, and then the passion she yearned for." There were even rumors that Captain Hewitt was Prince Harry's real father! But he firmly denied the allegations when asked the question point-blank.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Diana and Prince Harry


Apart from Captain Hewitt, Princess Anne also informed the Queen of Diana's dalliance with one of her bodyguards. This could very well be Barry Mannakee. He served as The Princess of Wales’ bodyguard in the mid-eighties, but, in Diana’s own words, was "chucked out" after rumors of an affair reached the palace.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Anwar Hussein / John Travolta and Diana in the White House


On the tape, recorded by her voice coach in 1992, Diana shared she was "deeply in love" with a man in the palace "environment." And although she never mentioned him by name, the Princess revealed that his death was "the biggest blow of her life." In 1987, Mannakee was fatally wounded in a motorcycle accident, which Diana found suspicious.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Princess Diana


WHAT THE ROYALS SAY ABOUT THE SHOW

Why did Prince William call the depiction of his parents' relationship in Season 4 of The Crown false? Does the Queen actually watch The Crown? And how Harry and Meghan’s deal with Netflix will affect their relationship with the senior royal members? Here are all the reported reactions the royal family have had to the show.

Image Credits: Youtube/Netflix


PRINCE WILLIAM IS NONE TOO PLEASED

Season 4 of The Crown is undeniably the most controversial yet. And while the Netflix hit is garnering positive reviews from critics and viewers, not all the members of the royal family are happy with it. Given that it must be extremely weird to see your family's supposed life dramatized on a popular show, it's no wonder that Prince William didn’t want to watch The Crown. 

Image Credits: Getty Images


Last year, Olivia Colman revealed on The Graham Norton Show that she actually asked the Duke of Cambridge about it – and his answer was a firm ‘No’. However, this February in his role as President of the BAFTAs, Prince William gave a speech, where he referenced the actors and creators of the series. 

Image Credits: Getty Images


He said that although he’s been proud to serve as BAFTA’s President for the last 10 years, he is not that certain about his feelings anymore. And that was before Season 4 aired! So, what does Prince William think about the depiction of the turbulent relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana? 

Image Credits: Getty Images


It's unclear if he has seen the new season, but, according to The Express, the Duke of Cambridge is “none too pleased with it”. A source said that he “feels that both his parents are being exploited and being presented in a false, simplistic way to make money”! And recently Prince William issued a rare statement addressing an investigation of Princess Diana’s bombshell interview that she gave in 1995.

Image Credits: Getty Images


AN INVESTIGATION ON PRINCESS DIANA’S INTERVIEW

Let us remind you that, in her talk with the reporter Martin Bashir, Diana confirmed rumors of her husband’s infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles. She said that as there were three of them in the marriage, “it was a bit crowded".

Image Credits: Getty Images / Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles


She also spoke openly about her own five-year affair with Captain James Hewitt and revealed her past struggles. Shockingly, this month the BBC announced it is conducting an independent investigation into an allegation that Bashir asked a graphic designer to create fake bank statements to coerce the royal into talking on camera!

Image Credits: Getty Images


The documents are alleged to have been used to falsely show payments were made to members of the royal staff in exchange for information about the Princess. So it’s no wonder that Prince William "tentatively" welcomed the investigation, that “should help establish the truth” behind the actions that led to this extremely controversial interview.

Image Credits: Getty Images


PRINCE CHARLES’ FRIENDS ACCUSE NETFLIX OF TWISTING THE EVENTS

Two years ago, Camilla Parker Bowles' nephew, Ben Elliot, shared with Vanity Fair that his aunt privately confessed to having enjoyed The Crown. However, she “wasn’t looking forward to the bits to come”. And that’s not surprising, as the show is not only an uncomfortable viewing for both her and Prince Charles, but it also resurrected the hostility towards them from two decades ago.

Image Credits: Getty Images


Twitter exploded with reactions from The Crown fans - and we should note that, for many of them, it was the first time learning the story of Charles and Diana's marriage. For example, one user wrote: "Prince Charles is trending because Gen Z and Millennials are (re)learning about the abuse Princess Diana was subject to."

Image Credits: Getty Images


Another puts the blame on the entire royal family, stating that the show makes you think that if only they had "let Charles and Camilla marry in the first place young Diana would have been saved from so much heartache". They also indicate that the Duchess of Cornwall's reputation, that she’s spent decades rebuilding, "was once again torn apart by season 4 of The Crown".

Image Credits: Youtube/Netflix


The newest season became such a bitter reminder of the past events, that the future king’s friends launched a blistering attack on the show. They accused its producers of “trolling on a Hollywood budget” and presenting fiction as facts in a twisted version of events. 

Image Credits: Youtube/Netflix


“It's dragging up things that happened during very difficult times 25 or 30 years ago without a thought for anyone's feelings. That isn't right or fair, particularly when so many of the things being depicted don't represent the truth,” they said. 

Image Credits: Getty Images


So we might safely assume that the palace really is not happy with the entire situation. But, we can’t help wondering – did the Queen ever watch The Crown?

Image Credits: Getty Images


THE SENIOR ROYALS HAVE NO TIME FOR NONSENSE

While some royal insiders complain that the show was made for profit and entertainment, with no regard to the actual people involved, others note that Queen Elizabeth actually enjoyed the first season of The Crown. As reported by The Sunday Express, her youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife organized Saturday night viewings for Her Majesty.

Image Credits: Getty Images