- The fourth season of “The Crown” dropped on Netflix on Sunday, and the new episodes have left some royal fans Googling what actually happened in real life and what didn’t.
- The latest season follows the strained relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and newly-elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the love triangle between Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and Camilla Parker-Bowles.
- Insider spoke to Hugo Vickers, royal historian and author of “The Crown Dissected,” who believes the way these relationships were portrayed were not accurate to real life.
- Vickers pointed out seven moments in season four that didn’t actually happen to the royals.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
1. The Queen and Margaret Thatcher weren’t rivals like the show portrays
The relationship between former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) is a major plot point in the show’s fourth season.
It was the first time in history that the UK had both a female sovereign and prime minister simultaneously when Thatcher was elected in 1979, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
Despite the women being of a similar age and dealing with similar issues – balancing leadership positions with motherhood and married life – the show portrays their relationship as strained.
In the second episode, Thatcher is made to feel so unwelcome by the royal family when visiting their holiday home, Balmoral Castle, that she leaves early.
Hugo Vickers said the show gets the Queen and Thatcher’s relationship all wrong.
“As far as the Queen and Mrs. Thatcher are concerned, I can assure you that the Queen goes out of her way to get along with all of her elected prime ministers,” Vickers told Insider. “Maybe they weren’t the closest of friends, but they had a close working relationship.”
2. There is no such thing as “The Balmoral Test”
The second episode of season four, titled “The Balmoral Test,” is based on the idea that members of the royal family lay social traps for their guests at Balmoral Castle to see if they are deemed worthy of being part of the group – a test that Vickers says is entirely made up by the show.
Thatcher seems to fail this test when she shows up for dinner in evening attire, as instructed on her list of protocol rules provided by staff – only to find the royals relaxing in the lounge in casual wear, who tell her she is far too early.
Later in the episode, Lady Diana (Emma Corrin) is invited to Balmoral by Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), and she seems to pass the test with flying colours.
“If you watch the Balmoral episode, where they invite Mrs. Thatcher and absolutely persecute her, absolutely no way would that have happened. It was a disgraceful episode, and wrong in every detail from beginning to end,” Vickers told Insider.
“Of course The Balmoral Test doesn’t exist,” he added. “The royal family is very well aware that guests are going to be nervous in their presence, and go out of their way to make them welcome.”
3. Prince Charles is introduced to Lady Diana Spencer for the first time in the show’s fourth season, but Vickers says that he would have already known who she was
Diana is introduced to viewers – and to Charles – in the first episode of season four, when he is casually dating her sister, Lady Sarah.
Diana tries to pass Charles unnoticed, even though she is in an elaborate tree costume for a school production. However, they soon get into a conversation, and it’s implied that Charles would have had no idea that Diana was Lady Sarah’s sister if she hadn’t introduced herself.
“Diana was brought up in Sandringham at Park House, so they were very close by. He would have known who she was,” Vickers told Insider.
4. The series gets royal etiquette wrong, according to Vickers
Vickers said that when the real Charles meets the Queen, he kisses her on both cheeks, then he kisses her hand.
In the series, however, “he stands back and does this little bow from the neck,” Vickers said.
The third episode shows Diana having trouble with royal etiquette when she arrives at Buckingham Palace. In particular, she struggles to remember the correct order in which to curtsy to members of the royal family, and how to formally address them.
Vickers added that it’s hard to believe Diana would have struggled with his, considering the fact that she was brought up in royal circles.
5. Thatcher didn’t actually ask the Queen to dissolve parliament
Hugo said that the show’s “suggestion that Mrs. Thatcher wants to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament to save her skin” is false.
“The Queen says no,” Vickers told Insider, “on the grounds that there is no power without authority: ‘The country is against you.’ Why do they cook up such nonsense? The country was not against her, although her ministers were.”
6. The love triangle between Charles, Diana, and Camilla is portrayed from a “one-sided” perspective
Vickers said the series tries to portray Diana as a victim, and only shows Charles from a negative perspective as the audience is shown his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowels (Emerald Fennell).
“The way this series portrays their relationship, you have Charles as a kind of wimp, and evil and unpleasant, shouting at his wife and things like that. We never get her massive tantrums, and the things that she did that he had to put up with. It’s entirely one-sided,” he said.
He added: “Charles really did make a huge effort in the early days to accommodate her.”
7. A scene between Princess Diana and Princess Philip in the season finale alludes to the conspiracy theory that the royals had her killed, according to Vickers
By the time of the season four finale, Charles and Diana’s relationship appears at a breaking point.
There’s a scene towards the end of the episode, where Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) visits Diana in her room at Sandringham and urges her not to break away from the marriage, suggesting that it would lead to negative consequences for her.
“If this family can’t give me the love and security that I feel I deserve, then I feel I have no option but to break away officially, and to find it myself,” Diana tells Philip.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Philip responds.
When Diana asks him why not, he says: “Let’s just say I don’t see it ending well for you.”
“I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir,” Diana says.
Vickers believes this scene is meant to allude to the conspiracy theory that the royal family were somehow involved in Diana’s death.
“I imagine we’re going to get an episode where he is seen conspiring to have her killed in the tunnel,” Vickers told Insider.
The princess was killed when the vehicle she was travelling in crashed after being chased by paparazzi in Paris in 1997, one year after her divorce from Charles.
Some theories that emerged after the princess’ death claim her death was orchestrated by Philip, in an attempt to prevent her from marrying her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, a Muslim, and giving birth to his child. However, there was no evidence to suggest that the princess was pregnant or that she was contemplating marriage, as Business Insider’s Michael Kranz previously reported.
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