The truth behind The Crown's claims in series 611/16/2023
Is new series of The Crown any more accurate than the rest? Decoding fact from fiction in season 6 – from Tony Blair lobbying the Queen on behalf of Diana to the late royal’s ‘engagement’ to Dodi Fayed before their deaths
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As The Crown returns for its final series on Netflix, it will cover royal events that took place in the not-too-distant memory – but how closely will art imitate life?
Series five of the drama prompted controversy from several prominent figures who disputed its depictions of them – including former Prime Minister Sir John Major, who wrote a letter to the Telegraph in which he blasted the series as ‘not good enough’ because it did not offer a disclaimer that some events had been dramatised.
Sir John Major’s successor, Tony Blair, also slammed the production as ‘complete and utter rubbish’ as it depicted a storyline suggesting he and the then-Prince Charles conspired against the late Queen.
The Daily Mail’s experts told Palace Confidential last month that the royals would likely be ‘dreading’ the new series of The Crown as it replays some painful memories including Princess Diana’s death, while amping up some scenes for dramatic effect.
But how true will the final series be to the real-life events that took place? FEMAIL has analysed the first four episodes of the sixth series of The Crown, to separate fact and fiction…
Episode 1: Tony Blair lobbies for Diana to have a greater role
In the opening scenes of the final series of The Crown, Princess Diana visits Tony Blair in Chequers
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In the dramatisation of Princess Diana’s final days in the Netflix original production, Tony Blair is depicted at Chequers with his wife Cherie where they discuss the royal.
Cherie asks her husband: ‘Remind me, why is Diana coming to visit?’
The scene then cuts to a meeting between the then-prime minister and the Queen, in which she enquires about Diana’s visit to Chequers.
He tells the Queen he and Diana played five-a-side football, had lunch and went for a walk.
Blair says: ‘[Diana] feels strongly that she still has a lot to offer the country as a public servant and a lot of energy.’
He also brings up her recent work on landmines and how 100 countries have now signed a treaty outlawing them. He adds, ‘When Diana talks the world listens.’
The Queen nods in response and says ‘yes’ followed by a long awkward silence.
Blair continues: ‘She wanted to know if the government could find a way to harness her gifts on a more formal basis and that any official basis they might offer her would be enormously appreciated’.
While Tony Blair has revealed he did meet Princess Diana at Chequers in 1997, he did not disclose anything about the royal asking him to lobby the Queen for a bigger role
Princess Diana and Tony Blair certainly had a working relationship, something he detailed in his 2010 memoir.
She also did visit Chequers in 1997, which he described in the memoir.
The former Labour prime minister revealed the late royal came to Chequers with Prince William, who played with the Blair children while they walked around the gardens.
However, whereas The Crown suggests the pair discussed Blair lobbying the Queen for a bigger role for Diana, Blair revealed in the memoir that the royal had been ‘annoyed’ by the conversation they had at Chequers, which suggests they were not on the same page about the discussion they had.
Blair did not go into detail about what he and Diana discussed, but he did reveal in the memoir that he expressed concerns about her relationship with Dodi Fayed.
Episode 1: Queen’s assertion that ‘you’re either in or you’re out’ of the royal family’
As the Queen meets with the prime minister following his meeting with Diana at Chequers, she says that ‘you’re either in or you’re out’ of the royal family
Following Diana’s visit to Chequers, he meets the Queen and presents to her the idea that the Princess might be able to take on a bigger public role.
The Queen, in response, seems unconvinced by his proposition.
She replies: ‘I always say it’s hard to be half in anything. You’re either in or out. You yourself would know the difference between being in government or out.
‘While she’s mother of the boys and, in that respect, always welcome at the palace.
‘As a divorced woman and no longer a HRH, Diana is now learning the difference between being officially IN the royal family – and out.’
In the Sussexes’ bombshell documentary Harry & Meghan, released last year, the Duke discussed The Firm’s attitude to the royal family in that people are either ‘in or out’
While we do not know the truth behind this meeting between Blair and the Queen (or indeed, whether it went ahead at all), Her late Majesty’s attitude towards being in the Firm has been well-documented in recent years.
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attempted to carve out a new role for themselves within the royal family, Harry’s grandmother is said not to have been keen on the idea.
In the Sussexes’ bombshell documentary Harry & Meghan, which was released on Netflix last year, Harry recalled how he attended a summit in Sandringham with the Queen, King Charles and Prince William and proposed new roles for himself and his wife within the royal family that was, in his words, ‘half in, half out’.
The Duke was promptly told by the Firm that his suggestion would not be accommodated.
According to Harry, the loudest voices against his suggestion were William and Charles, who allegedly began ‘screaming and shouting’ at him.
However, it is likely this view was shared by the Queen, who was the monarch and in charge of the Firm.
Episode 1: Princess Margaret plays a key role in encouraging the Queen to accept Camilla
In the sixth series of the royal drama, Princess Margaret acts as a peacekeeper and a supporter of Charles and Camilla’s relationship
The episode depicts Camilla’s 50th birthday party, held at Highgrove House and organised by Charles.
Despite the future king’s desperate pleas to get his mother to attend the party, the Queen refuses and instead says she will visit a Rolls Royce factory in Derbyshire that day.
She tells her son: ‘How can I possibly give my approval when I don’t approve? It’s nothing personal.
‘I’m sure she’s very nice. Its a matter of principle. Two perfectly good marriages, two perfectly happy families have been broken up by this.’
Charles protests but the Queen tells him she wants to hear no more on the subject and again states her position.
As the party gets underway, Princess Margaret is one of the most senior members of the royal family pictured at the event.
From Highgrove House, she calls her older sister and tries to persuade her that Charles and Camilla’s relationship is legitimate.
There is no documented evvidence that Princess Margaret (pictured) acted as a peacekeeper and encouraged the Queen to accept Camilla
It is true that King Charles organised a 50th birthday party for Camilla at Highgrove House in July 1997.
Although Her late Majesty the Queen was not present at the party, it has never been documented that Princess Margaret went to the event and tried to talk round her sister.
Princess Margaret had a well documented relationship with Princess Diana, but her thoughts on Charles and Camilla’s relationship were never widely reported.
Episode 2: Queen’s private secretary discusses ‘concerns’ regarding Diana and Dodi’s relationship
During a summit at the Palace in episode 2, royal aides gather with the family to discuss their concerns over Diana and Dodi’s relationship
As members of the royal family and officials gather for a meeting at Buckingham Palace, they discuss Princess Diana’s relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed.
During the discussion, the Queen’s secretary says: ‘If one were to imagine a friendship between the princess of wales and Dodi Fayed becoming a committed relationship, there’s not just the potential damage to the royal family from a public relations point of view but also a fear that his father might use the association with the princess of Wales as leverage and leave the authorities in an uncomfortable position.’
Princess Anne goes on to say: ‘Because if the Fayed family is seen good enough for the former wife of the next king and the mother of the king after that, how can the government reasonably deny him the British citizenship he is so actively seeking?’
Princess Diana’s butler and confidant Paul Burrell (pictured with the royal in 1994) told an inquest into her death in 2008 that there had been ‘concerns’ within the royal family about her relationship with Dodi Fayed
It has been reported in the past that the royal family had concerns about Princess Diana’s relationship with Dodi Fayed – however the claim from a fictionalised version of Princess Anne that the concern related to their immigration status has never been substantiated.
In 2008, Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler and confidant, spoke at an inquest into Diana and Dodi’s deaths in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
When questioned about Queen Elizabeth’s thoughts on the relationship between the pair, Burrell told the court: ‘Her Majesty was concerned about the future.’
Tony Blair, too, revealed in his memoir that he shared the Palace’s concerns about Diana’s relationship with Dodi.
He revealed that, during their conversation at Chequers, which is also depicted in series six of The Crown, he told her that her relationship with the Egyptian film producer ‘was a problem’.
Verdict: Partly true
Episode 2: Mohamed Al-Fayed pushes Dodi and Diana together
In The Crown, Mohamed Al-Fated is a meddling character who wants to know in detail that his son and the royal are getting along well
While Dodi and Diana enjoy champagne and sunbathe on Mohamed’s Jonikal super yacht, the billionaire calls in a staff member on the yacht to ask how things are going between his son and the royal.
‘Is it a success?’ he asks.
When the staff member responds to tell Al-Fayed that the pair appear to be getting along very well, his questions become more probing.
He asks: ‘Are they sleeping together?’ to which the staff member replies he is unsure.
The billionaire then calls the maid to ask if his son and Princess Diana are intimate with one another.
She replies: ‘I don’t know – but they sleep in one room with one bed.’
Mohamed Al-Fayed befriended Princess Diana several years before he invited her to spend the summer on his Jonikal yacht
The extent to which Mohamed Al-Fayed engineered Diana and Dodi’s relationship is not known.
However, he certainly encouraged closeness between the pair and invited Diana onto his multi-million pound super yacht in the summer of 1997.
Princess Diana and Mohamed Al-Fayed had been friends for several years by the time the royal became romantically linked with Dodi.
Michael Cole, former director of public affairs at Harrods, said in 1995: ‘Diana is so easygoing with Mohamed… Mohamed is not one of those who’s overwhelmed by her. They spark off each other very well.’
After the billionaire Harrods owner invited Diana to spend the summer on his yacht, he directed his son Dodi to come and join them – despite the fact Dodi was engaged to American model Kelly Fisher at the time.
At his father’s request, Dodi dropped Fisher and travelled to St Tropez to spend time with Diana – and from there, the relationship blossomed.
Episode 2: Prince William says Dodi Fayed is ‘weird’
In the final season of The Crown, as Dodi and Diana get closer, Prince William gives his verdict that Dodi is ‘weird’
As she leaves them in the custody of their father and other royals at Balmoral, she tells them she is going away again.
She replies to say she is going to Bosnia (which echoes Princess Diana’s 1997 trip to Sarajevo) but William presses her on where she will go after this.
Diana tells her eldest son she might go to France for a few days, and William replies: ‘With Dodi?’
He pulls a face, looks disapproving, and adds: ‘He’s weird.’
Prince Harry and Prince William have largely remained silent on Princess Diana’s relationship with Dodi after they spent a week with him on the Jonikal yacht in St Tropez – however Harry said in his memoir that he and his older brother thought the Egyptian film producer was ‘a pretty nice guy’
Prince William and Prince Harry remained largely tight-lipped about their late mother’s relationship with Dodi Fayed for most of their lives, but in Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, released in January this year, he revealed some details.
Harry recalls seeing his mother light up in Dodi’s presence as he described the filmmaker as ‘cheeky’ – nonetheless, he seemed ‘nice’.
He reflects on a conversation he had with William about their mother’s new partner – and how they both agreed that, as long as she was happy, then they were happy for her.
Episode 3: Dodi buys an engagement ring for Princess Diana
During a trip to Monte Carlo, Dodi and Diana are seen in a jewellery shop where she jokes she likes the look of a ring
During a quick trip to Monte Carlo, Dodi and Diana take shelter in a jewellery shop after being chased by fans and photographers. Dodi asks if there’s anything Diana likes in the store and she laughingly points at big diamond engagement ring called ‘Dis-moi Oui!’ (say yes to me!) and says ‘well that’s quite nice’.
She then says she was just joking and doesn’t want anything from the store.
But later, Dodi and his father discuss the trip and tells him Diana liked the ring. He explains the ring was no longer available in Monte Carlo, but the store had it in stock in its Paris branch.
Al-Fayed tells his son: ‘Take her to Paris and put the ring on her finger. This is the greatest day of my life. I knew you would do it.’
According to The Crown’s version of events, an engagement ring is the reason Dodi and Diana visited Paris, where they died in a car crash.
As the episode progresses, Dodi even gets down on one knee at the Ritz (owned by his father), plays Julio Iglesias and presents Diana with the ring.
She declines his proposal and the pair agree to be friends.
After Diana and Dodi’s deaths, there were conflicting claims about the status of their relationship.
While Mohamed Al-Fayed claimed the pair had been engaged at the time of their deaths, some friends of Diana suggested otherwise.
Pals close to the Princess claimed that the Princess had never wanted to marry again following her acrimonious split from Charles.
There has never been any mention of Dodi being in possession of an engagement ring when he and Diana died in the car accident in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, nor was there a ring found in his possessions that was made public.
Verdict: Likely false
Episode 3: Diana tells her sons she needs to ‘make some changes’ in her life in their final phone call
Throughout the fourth episode Diana is eager to speak to her sons on the phone, who are staying at Balmoral with their father
After a long day in Paris, a frustrated Diana finally gets to speak to Prince William and Prince Harry, who are holidaying with their father in Balmoral.
During the phone call, William asks his mother if she’s going to marry Dodi Fayed, to which Diana says she is not.
He then explains all the newspapers in the UK are reporting that the pair are engaged.
Diana replies: ‘I am emphatically not going to marry Dodi. To be honest, I cant wait to come home.’
William then asks his mother if she is ok. She nods and says: ‘I’m ok. Its just a bit mad here. I don’t really understand how I ended up here. Mummy just needs to make some changes to her life, thats all. But that’s not your problem – thats mine.’
In a tender moment, she tells her sons she loves them and they reply to say they love her too. She promises to return home the following evening to see them.
In 2017 documentary Diana: Our Mother, the royal brothers addressed their final call with Princess Diana and expressed their regret that it was so brief
Prince William and Prince Harry have only ever addressed their final phone call with their mother once.
Speaking in 2017, 20 years after Diana’s death, they discussed their last discussion with Diana while she was in Paris and they were in Balmoral with their cousins.
Recalling the chat, they expressed their regret that they were desperate to go back outside and play.
Speaking in the documentary Diana: Our Mother, Harry said: ‘I can’t really, necessarily, remember what I said. But all I do remember is probably, you know, regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.
‘And if I’d known that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother – the things I would have said to her.’
The fact that Harry, who was 12 at the time of his mother’s death, cannot remember the details of his final conversation with Diana suggests it was not a chat where deep feelings were expressed – rather, an ordinary chat because neither Diana nor the princes knew it would be their final conversation.
Episode 4: William is present when Harry is told of his mother’s death
After Diana’s death, Prince Charles tells his sons, who are staying at Balmoral, the terrible news. As Harry is told, William stands at the foot of his bed
After news of Diana’s death makes its way to Balmoral in the early hours of 31 August 1997, Charles wonders how on earth he will tell his sons.
There are no words spoken as an aide delivers the news to the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles.
Charles then says to Camilla on the phone: ‘One has questions. Why did she change her plans? What was a she doing in Paris? What caused the accident?’
Camilla, who is watching the news unfold on TV at Highgrove, asks when Charles will tell the boys their mother has died and he tells her he wants to wait for as long as possible.
‘While they’re sleeping, they still have a mother,’ he says tearfully. ‘This is going to be enormous. People have no idea. This is going to be the biggest thing that any of us has ever seen.’
Eventually, Charles goes to tell the boys, and the audio falls silent again while he breaks the news to William. We then see him telling Harry, while William looks on.
Prince Harry recalled in his memoir Spare how he learnt his mother had passed away while he was staying in Balmoral
Prince Harry revealed in his memoir, Spare, his memory of being told his mother had passed away.
In the memoir, he recalled sitting in his room in Balmoral while Charles told him the news.
He stressed that, rather than being with William, he was alone in his room.
‘What I do remember with stunning clarity is that I did not cry. Not a tear. My father did not hug me,’ he said.
After his father left, he recalled sitting by himself while his brother William, whom he affectionately calls ‘Willy’, sat in a separate room.
Harry claimed his memory has undergone ‘decades of effort to reconstruct that morning’, but after all this time he has come to an ‘inescapable conclusion’ – that he stayed alone in the room until 9am the following morning when the piper began to play outside.
Episode 4: The Queen and Prince Philip argue Princess Diana should not have a state funeral, but Charles insists upon it
Following Diana’s death, the royal family discusses her funeral and the Queen and Prince Philip suggest the affair is a matter for the Spencer family
After Charles returns from Paris, where he had travelled to retrieve Diana’s body, he discusses her funeral with his parents.
An argument ensues about whether Diana should be laid to rest in a private Spencer funeral, or whether she should have a state funeral.
Prince Philip declares the funeral is a ‘Spencer family matter’.
Charles hits back and says: ‘The prime minister believes in a public funeral, a state occasion in all but name – and I agree with him.’
The Queen says: ‘That would mean leaving Scotland and participating in some huge spectacle in London.
Phili adds: ‘Do you really want to out the boys through that? They’d have to walk behind the coffin in front of all those cameras.’
After Princess Diana died, amid reports the royal family had argued about whether to have a state funeral, Buckingham Palace issued a furious denial
In 1997, reports emerged that Buckingham Palace had argued against a state funeral for the late Diana, amid growing discontent with the Royal Family in the wake of her death.
Howver, the palace strenuously denied such allegations and suggested there was no truth at all to them.
A detailed statement issued at the time completely rejected the assertion that the Queen had been at odds with Charles over the prospect of a state funeral for Diana.
The statement read: ‘In the aftermath of the tragic death of the Princess of Wales, there has been a wave of speculation and inaccurate stories about the events leading up to, and subsequent to, the funeral. These stories need to be corrected.’
Although the palace admitted there had been ‘some minor differences over points of detail’, it added they had been ‘swiftly and amicably resolved’.
Addressing reports that the Queen and Charles had argued over a state funeral for Diana, the statement said they were ‘the direct opposite of the truth’.
Episode 4: Queen’s decision to come down to London after Diana’s death was cemented by seeing her ghost
In the fourth episode of the new series of The Crown, the Queen bows to mounting pressure to come to London after Diana’s death when she sees the late royal’s ghost
Amid mounting pressure from members of the public, the Queen is battling with whether or not she should travel down to London and make a statement following Diana’s death.
She insists, ‘The crown rises above impulse’ when Charles suggests she should go to London.
After she holds firm on her position, Charles leaves the room. At this point, Diana’s ghost appears and takes hold of the Queen’s hand.
The monarch tells Diana she has started ‘a revolution’.
Diana’s ghost replies: ‘It didn’t need to be. By making an enemy of me – not of me personally – but of what I stand for, then it starts to look like one.’
The spirit then encourages the Queen to show the public she is ‘willing to learn’.
In the next scene, the Queen tells Prince Philip they will travel down to London the following day.
Following pressure from the British press, the public, and even reportedly Tony Blair, the Queen came down to Buckingham Palace and addressed the nation
Following the death of Princess Diana, the Queen was under mounting pressure to come down to London, where thousands of people were lining the streets in grief and visiting Buckingham Palace with flowers.
As the days passed and the Queen remained in Balmoral, public anger grew as people thought the monarch should return to London.
The British press, too, piled pressure on the Royal Family to abandon its stoicism and express its grief publicly.
Ross Benson, for the Evening Standard, wrote in his column: ‘[The Royal Family] used to tell us what to do. Now we tell them.’
It was also reported that Tony Blair lent his voice to the crowd and privately urged the Queen to come back to London.
Given the enormous public pressure the Queen was under, which very clearly influenced her decision to return to London and address the nation, it is an exaggeration to suggest a premonition of Diana’s spirit triggered the monarch’s decision.
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