Does The Crown show regal reality or made-up monarchy? From Prince Philip’s midlife crisis to Princess Margaret’s toyboy, we separate fact from fiction in the final episodes of series three
- Viewers worldwide are lapping up second installment of The Crown’s third series
- The highly-anticipated drama focus on British Royal Family between 1964-1977
- How much of episodes 6 to 10 are embellished with fantasy? Femail investigates
The first five episodes of the series three of the Crown have raised eyebrows over storylines that historians and royal commentators claim are wildly inaccurate.
Storylines such as the Queen’s affair with her racing manager Lord Porchester have been described as ‘distasteful and totally unfounded’ by Her Majesty’s former Press Secretary Dickie Arbiter.
But how does the second half of series three, which focuses on the Royal Family between the years of 1964 and 1977, stand up to scrutiny?
In the final four episodes viewers see Prince Charles rewriting his investiture speech to promote Welsh independence; the Queen and siding with Tony Armstrong-Jones in his divorce from Princess Margaret, and the monarch making a last-minute trip to visit her dying uncle the Duke of Windsor.
But how much of what’s presented in these episodes stays true to history, and where do they stray from the facts?
Here FEMAIL concludes our fact check on another epic series of The Crown.
The Crown’s claim: Prince Charles hid pro-Welsh sentiments in his investiture speech as Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969
Prince Charles, watched by his mother, places the gold coronet of The Prince of Wales on his head at his investiture on July 1, 1969 in Caernarvon, Wales
In The Crown, the young prince (played by Josh O’Connor), pictured at the investiture, is seen rewriting the piece to make it more ‘pro-Welsh’
In episode six, called Tywysog Cymru (Welsh for the Prince of Wales), Prince Charles (played by Josh O’Connor) is given a government-written speech for his investiture in 1969 at Caernarfon Castle.
In The Crown, the young prince is seen rewriting the piece to make it more ‘pro-Welsh’, and goes on to say that it is ‘completely understandable’ that Wales should want independence from the UK
This upsets the Queen, who tells him that the role of the monarch is to keep their personal opinions hidden, and that ‘no one wants to hear’ what he has to say.
The real prince’s speech was more about his admiration for Welsh culture and tradition, and certainly didn’t contain remarks supporting independence.
There’s also no suggestion that the prince had a secret handwritten speech ready, filled with endorsements for Welsh independence.
Prince Charles did go to the University of Aberystwyth to study Welsh History and Language to say part of his speech in the nation’s language.
And while he did add in some personal touches to his speech, it was all approved by George Thomas, the Secretary of State for Wales at the time.
The Crown’s claim: Prince Philip has a midlife crisis which manifested as an obsession with the moon landing in 1969 and the creation of St George’s House
The Duke of Edinburgh attending a polo match with the Queen in Windsor Park on August 6 1967
Tobias Menzies takes on the role of Prince Philip in the third season of the Netflix series, which claims the Duke of Edinburgh went through a mid-life crisis
In the episode entitled Moondust, a disillusioned Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) reflects on his achievements and admits to going through some kind of ‘crisis’.
This crisis is paralleled with a growing interest – bordering on obsession – for the July 16, 1969 Moon landing.
The Duke, who believes that being active is the best way to get over a slump in spirits, is shown over-exercising. He’s also riveted by the coverage of the moon landing, following every second of every report on the team of astronauts attempting the feat.
He barely talks of anything else, and likens Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to Gods.
In the show, Philip also meets the new Dean of Windsor, Robin Woods (Tim McMullan), who asks him whether he can use one of the palace’s empty rooms as a centre for burnt-out men of faith – an initiative that the Duke of Edinburgh initially ridicules in a moment of anger.
Robin Woods’ centre would become St George’s House Trust, an organisation based at Windsor Castle, committed to effecting change for the better by nurturing wisdom through dialogue.
The episode culminates with Philip privately meeting with Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins in a very awkward scene.
His fantasy is shattered when he realises that the three men he built up to be gods were ordinary humans who were all suffering from colds.
This is mostly fictitious. There’s no evidence that Prince Philip went through a midlife crisis, nor that he was obsessed with the moon landing.
The mid-life crisis claim was staunchly denied by the Royal Family historian and author of Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, Sally Bedell Smith, who told NBC News: ‘I don’t think he would’ve known a midlife crisis if it slapped him in the face.’
Smith went on to say that the idea Prince Philip would be so engrossed in the moon landing that he would have gone through a mid-life crisis was ‘preposterous’, adding: ‘He wouldn’t have been sitting around brooding about not being an astronaut.’
As for the creation of what would become St George’s House, the dates do not match, because it was co-founded by Robin Woods and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1966 – three years prior to the Moon landing.
The Crown’s claim: The Queen had a change of heart and decided to meet with the Duke of Windsor on May 18, 1972 before he died
The Queen visited the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson for 40 minutes on May 18, 1972. The Queen wanted to visit her uncle before he died
Geraldine Chaplin as Wallis Simpson and Olivia Colman as the Queen shake hands during the series’ eighth episode
In episode eight, the Queen is urged by the Prime Minister to visit her uncle the Duke of Windsor, whose health has taken a turn for the worse.
The Duke, who was shunned by the royal family for abdicating in 1936 and marrying divorcee Wallis Simpson, was living in exile near the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris.
The Queen is reticent at first, and Prince Philip is completely against the request.
However the monarch, who is already in France at the time for a state visit, changes her mind and decides to go to visit him when she is told he’s ‘at the end’.
There she shakes hands with the former King’s wife Wallis Simpson (Geraldine Chaplin), whom she has not seen since her childhood.
VERDICT: SOMEWHAT TRUE
While the Queen did not have a sudden ‘change of heart’, but she did visit her uncle before his death.
The Queen visited the Duke of Windsor in France in his last days, however this visit had been carefully planned for months by the establishment.
The real life visit happened on May 18, 1972. Not only did the Queen visit, she was accompanied by her son Prince Charles and husband Prince Philip.
The pair had a 15 minute private exchange in his upstairs bedroom, however he was not well enough to attend tea with his wife Wallis Simpson and the other guests.
It’s believed the royals spent most of the visit in the company of Wallis Simpson.
The Crown’s claim: Andrew Parker Bowles cheated on Camilla often with different women before their wedding in 1973
The third season of The Crown follows events from 1964 to 1977. This includes Prince Charles’ first meeting with both of his future wives. Pictured, Charles and Camilla in 1975, two years after her marriage to Andrew Parker Bowles and two years before Charles met Diana
The third season of the Netflix show shows Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell), the future Duchess of Cornwall, striking up a relationship after meeting at a polo match in the early 1970s. Pictured, O’Connor and Fennell on the set of the show
In the eighth episode of the show, we’re introduced for the first time to Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell) and Andrew Parker-Bowles who frequently argue about the cracks in their relationship.
It is suggested that Camilla, tired of his repeated indiscretions with other women, breaks it off with Andrew and starts dating Charles instead.
In one of this season’s most exiting turn of events, Andrew chases after another woman – who turns out to be none other than Charles’ sister, Princess Anne.
Andrew Parker-Bowles did indeed cheat on Camilla a few times before their marriage in 1973.
Major Parker-Bowles was known for having a roving eye during his on-off relationship with the current Duchess of Cornwall.
One of Andrew’s conquests during this time, Countess Pierre de Cabarrus, said in 2010: ‘When I was with him, I discovered he was also having an affair with a married woman. But Camilla was still desperate to marry him.’
Camilla’s biographer, Penny Junor, also said that Andrew was a ‘cad’ and ‘bonking other people, some of them her friends’.
The Crown’s claim: Princess Anne dated Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1970
Andrew Parker Bowles and Princess Anne did have a fling when she was 20 and he 31. It fizzled out when he was posted to Germany
Erin Doherty as a young Princess Anne. The show suggests that Anne wanted to have ‘fun’ and enjoyed a fling with Andrew Parker-Bowles
One of the most talked about nuggets from episode eight is when Princess Anne (Erin Doherty), starts up an affair with Andrew Parker-Bowles (Andrew Buchan) while he’s on a break from Camilla.
The pair, who’ve known each other since childhood, get re-introduced at an event where Andrew is struck by Anne’s charms.
They can later be seen lounging in the Princess’ room at Buckingham Palace after spending the night together.
Princess Margaret did have a fling with Andrew Parker-Bowles during one of his break-ups with Camilla.
In real life, the pair had a chance encounter at Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother’s home, when Anne was 20 and Parker-Bowles was 31.
According to Richard Kay, the two dated for a short period while Andrew was reportedly still seeing Camilla.
But it all fizzled out when Parker Bowles, a man described by one ex as ‘the greatest lover in London’, was posted to Germany.
The Crown’s claim: Lord Mountbatten and the Queen Mother conspired to break Camilla and Charles up and pushed her to marry Andrew Parker-Bowles in 1973
It is unlikely that the Queen Mother (pictured in 1969) and Lord Mountbatten (pictured in 1965) would have interfered in the love life of Prince Charles in reality
In the show, the Queen Mother, played by Marion Bailey, and Lord Mountbatten, played by Charles Dance, conspire to separate Charles from Camilla Shand
Episode nine show Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) and the Queen Mother (Marion Bailey) conspiring to break up the budding romance between a young Prince Charles and Camilla Shand, by sending Charles overseas and pushing for her marriage to Andrew Parker-Bowles.
The show suggests that the Queen Mother and Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, went behind the Queen and Prince Charles’ back to dispose of a match they felt didn’t serve the Royal Family.
The Queen Mother and Lord Mountbatten did not interfere in the Prince of Wales’ love life.
This scandalous turn of events has been criticised by royal experts, who told the Daily Telegraph there was no ‘plot’ that led to the end of Charles and Camilla’s relationship.
Royal biographer Penny Junor insisted that, in reality, Camilla was already deeply in love with Parker Bowles, whom she had known for several years, when she met the young prince. Camilla and Andrew tied the knot in 1973.
Meanwhile royal expert and author Christopher Wilson, author of A Greater Love – Charles and Camilla, said it was unlikely the Queen Mother and Lord Mountbatten would have schemed together because she was ‘never a great fan of his’.
‘She always treated him with suspicion, always,’ Mr Wilson told the newspaper.
‘I don’t know why (creator) Peter Morgan has taken this line. The story is good enough without embellishing it.’
The Crown’s claim: The Queen, the Queen Mother and Prince Philip sided with Lord Snowdon during his split from Princess Margaret in 1973
Princess Anne, the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Abercorn, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon in 1969
In The Crown, Princess Margaret accuses her family, including the Queen mother, of repeatedly taking the side of her husband, Lord Snowdon (Ben Daniels, right)
A pivotal scene in the penultimate episode of the series, entitled ‘Coup du Coeur’, takes place at Princess Margaret’s birthday party, where she announces to her family that her husband Tony Armstrong-Jones (Ben Daniels) is cheating on her.
As the Queen Mother, the Queen and Prince Philip start singing the praises of Lord Snowdon, Margaret (Helena Bonham-Carter) explodes into a fit of rage and claims they always take his side.
She then pleads with them to ‘punish’ Snowdon for his infidelity by shunning him from Royal Family business. She is ignored and storms off to meet her lady in waiting Anne Glenconner.
The Queen Mother and the Queen were indeed very keen on Lord Snowdon, and Princess Margaret was blamed for their divorce.
Princess Margaret’s biographer Christopher Warwick explained in Anne de Courcy’s Snowdon: The biography: ‘People did tend to blame Margaret for the break-up of the marriage.
‘This was because, as Margaret put it to me, “Tony was very oily – with my sister and with my mother and the family.”‘
The Crown’s claim: Princess Margaret had an affair with a much younger man in 1973
Princess Margaret and her companion Roddy Llewellyn on their way to Heathrow Airport before departing for a holiday in the Caribbean in the 1970’s
The Crown claims that Princess Margaret’s affair with Roddy (Harry Treadaway) caused the breakdown of her marriage to Lord Snowdon
In the last episode of season three, we follow Margaret as she enacts revenge on her husband Lord Snowdon by taking a much younger lover.
She falls for Roderick ‘Roddy’ Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway), then a 25-year-old landscaper while visiting her lady-in-waiting Anne Glenconner.
In the show, the affair is depicted as a sex-infused fling. The fallout following her adultery is blamed as the main reason for Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret’s divorce.
VERDICT: PARTLY TRUE
Princess Margaret did date Roddy Llewellyn, however, their relationship was quite different to the one depicted in The Crown.
In reality, the pair’s affair lasted several years after they met in Edinburgh in 1973. He was then 17 years younger than the royal.
Their relationship went on after her divorce from Armstrong-Jones, and lasted until the dawn of the 1980s.
As for the breakdown of Snowdon and Princess Margaret’s marriage, it is well documented that she was experiencing marriage difficulties long before her affair with Llewellyn, as early as the mid-sixties.
The Crown’s claim: Princess Margaret tried to commit suicide after her fall out with Tony Armstrong-Jones before the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977
Friends of Princess Margaret, pictured in Hollywood in 1965, denied she had tried to take her own life
In The Crown, the Queen is called and learns that Princess Margaret (pictured) has taken several anti-depressants
In a particularly tough scene, Margaret takes several several anti-depressant pills following the breakdown of her marriage to Lord Snowdon and her affair with Llewellyn.
The Queen is called to Princess Margaret’s apartments, where the monarch tells her sister she cannot imagine life without her.
It is a heart-wrenching scene, which underlines Margaret’s despair and the sisterly bond that unites the two women.
Following her divorce, when Margaret experienced one of her biggest low points, articles claimed that she had taken several pills during suicide attempt.
The Telegraph article read: ‘At the height of her distress, and unable to sleep, she took a handful of Mogadon tablets and anxious staff found they were unable to wake her.
However, it’s always been strenuously denied that Princess Margaret ever attempted to take her own life.
Margaret herself would later explain: ‘I was so exhausted because of everything that all I wanted to do was sleep… and I did, right through to the following afternoon.”‘
The Crown’s claim: Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the Queen were very close when he resigned on April 5, 1976
Wilson (pictured at the Labour Party conference of 1966) was reportedly one of the Queen’s favourite Prime Ministers
Jason Watkins plays PM Harold Wilson in the third series of the Netflix show. His relationship with the Queen is portrayed as a very friendly one
In The Crown, when Harold Wilson is re-elected as Prime Minister, succeeding the unpopular Edward Heath, the Queen warmly welcomes him back into Downing Street.
She even admits to letting out an ‘unconstitutional cheer’ upon his reinstatement.
Later, when the PM is forced to retire due to an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, she tells him she would be delighted to come for dinner at his house.
Wilson, profoundly touched, notes that the Queen only bestowed this honour on the late PM Winston Churchill.
It is widely accepted that the Queen and Prime Minister Wilson got on very well.
Their meetings reportedly lasted for hours, and the Queen sometimes invited him to stay for drinks after.
The PM and the Queen were much closer in age than her previous Prime Ministers – Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Holmes – and Wilson was reportedly more relaxed than his predecessors when it came to his meetings with the sovereign.
An article from the Telegraph claimed that the PM was very proud of his relationship with the Queen and kept a picture of the two of them together in his wallet.
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