How Accurate Is The Crown Season 5 Compared To Real Life?


This Article Contains SPOILERS For The Crown Season 5

Questions have arisen concerning the real-life accuracy of events depicted in The Crown season 5. Season 5 once again sees the cast of The Crown change, in order to reflect the time that has passed in the show. New actors replacing former players include Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Dominic West, and Elizabeth Debicki, while Jonny Lee Miller joins the main cast as former Conservative Prime Minister John Major. The Crown season 5 covers the years 1991-97, with a focus on the divorce between Prince Charles and Diana, the Al-Fayed family, and the infamous “Annus Horribilis” in 1992.


Peter Morgan’s historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II has attracted controversy, especially from the people portrayed in The Crown, for the way it depicts historical events. Numerous politicians and celebrities in the United Kingdom, such as Judi Dench, have called for Netflix to put a disclaimer in front of the show, stating that The Crown is merely fiction. As of the time of writing, no such disclaimer has been attached to the show. With such a level of controversy surrounding the show, it is useful to examine just how accurately The Crown season 5 depicts the historical events it portrays.

Related: Did The Royal Family Approve Of The Crown? What We Know

Did Prince Charles And John Major Discuss Queen Elizabeth Abdicating?


John Major has emphatically denied that any such discussion took place between himself and Prince Charles. In fact, in the United Kingdom, John Major is one of the loudest voices criticizing The Crown season 5. He has even described the show as a “barrel-load of nonsense”. However, Princess Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson (played in The Crown season 5 by Jamie Glover) has suggested that the Prince of Wales did discuss the Queen’s abdication with a Prime Minister, just not with John Major.

Did Prince Philip Have A Friendship With Penny Knatchbull?


Despite being 32 years older than her, the Duke of Edinburgh did, in fact, develop a close friendship with the wife of his godson, Penny Knatchbull. Before the release of The Crown season 5, there was an uproar in the British media for the show supposedly depicting an affair between Knatchbull and Prince Philip. However, the show never portrays their relationship to be anything aside from a close friendship. Their friendship was so close, in fact, that Penny Knatchbull was the only non-family member to attend Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle in April 2021. Due to COVID restrictions, the number of attendees at the funeral was limited to 30.

Did Someone Really Suck Sarah Ferguson’s Toes?


One of the most bizarre scandals to afflict the Royal Family in The Crown season 5 really did happen. The Daily Mirror, a British tabloid newspaper, published photographs of American businessman John Bryan sucking the Duchess of York’s toes while she sunbathes topless, in August 1992. Ferguson, who had already separated from Prince Andrew at this point, was subject to ridicule from the British press and criticism from the Royal Family itself. Princess Margaret wrote the Duchess of York a handwritten letter stating that Ferguson had “[brought] shame on the family… after those disgraceful photographs”.

Did Mohamed Al-Fayed Hire The Duke Of Windsor’s Former Valet?

Sydney Johnson Mohamed Al-Fayed The Crown

As depicted in The Crown season 5, episode 3 “Mou Mou”, the Britain-obsessed businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed really did hire Sydney Johnson, the Duke of Windsor’s former valet. Johnson began working for the Duke of Windsor at the age of 16 and served him for over 30 years. Johnson resigned from working for the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, in 1973 to care for his four children. Al-Fayed then hired him as his personal valet and the duo worked on the restoration of Villa Windsor, as shown in The Crown. When Johnson died suddenly in January 1990, Al-Fayed described him as “truly a gentlemen’s gentleman”.

Related: The Crown’s Windsor Castle Fire True Story & What Happened Next

Did Peter Townsend reunite with Princess Margaret Before His Death?


Princess Margaret did, in fact, get to reunite with her former lover Peter Townsend at an HMS Vanguard reunion. The Crown seasons 1 and 2 depict the doomed romance between Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) and Queen Elizabeth’s equerry Peter Townsend (Ben Miles). It is due to his role as equerry, aboard the HMS Vanguard, that Townsend and Princess Margaret were able to reunite. However, in real life, there is no public evidence that Townsend wrote to Princess Margaret before the reunion party.

Did Prince Philip Help Identify The Romanovs?


The Crown season 5, episode 6, “Ipatiev House” depicts Prince Philip providing DNA to help with the identification of the remains of the Romanovs. The Romanovs, the former Royal Family of Russia, were executed in the basement of Ipatiev House by Bolshevik revolutionaries on the orders of the Ural Regional Soviet in July 1918. Upon the announcement of the discovery of their remains in the nearby Koptyaki forest, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, DNA identification was required to formally identify the remains as the Romanovs. As in The Crown, the Romanovs’ remains were identified using Prince Philip’s blood, as he was a descendant of the family.

Did Martin Bashir Use Fake Bank Statements To Secure The Diana Interview?

The Crown Martin Bashir

The Panorama interview that The Crown depicts between journalist Martin Bashir and Princess Diana was a bombshell when it was broadcast in November 1995. Despite 23 million viewers, suspicions soon sprouted up about how Bashir was able to secure the interview. A 1996 internal investigation at the BBC concluded that Martin Bashir used fake documents to convince Charles Spencer that his sister, Diana, was being spied on. However, it plainly stated that Bashir did not use the fake bank statements to obtain an interview with Diana. A separate 2020 investigation then ruled that Bashir breached BBC editorial conduct in his methods used to obtain the interview.

However, Princess Diana herself wrote a handwritten note that stated that Bashir did not pressure her to take part in the Panorama interview. To this day though, Charles Spencer claims that he would not have introduced Diana to Bashir without the fake bank statements. The director general of the BBC, Tim Davie, apologized to Charles Spencer in November 2020 for Martin Bashir’s use of fake bank statements.

Related: True Story Of What Happened To Leonora In The Crown Season 5, Episode 2

Was Diana’s Phone Bugged?

Diana on the phone in The Crown.

The Crown season 5 depicts Princess Diana becoming ever more paranoid about people spying on her phone calls, especially after she hears unusual clicks on the line. Unfortunately, there is in fact evidence that Princess Diana’s phone calls were being spied on, as transcripts of her calls were leaked to the press. One such conversation led to the scandal known as “Squidgygate”, named for the nickname that James Gilbey gave her during a private phone call. As shown in The Crown, Princess Diana’s phone was really bugged.

Did Diana Warn Queen Elizabeth About The Panorama Interview?

Diana being interviewed on Panorama in The Crown.

In real life, Princess Diana did not directly warn Queen Elizabeth about the Panorama interview. The Queen was informed beforehand, but not by Princess Diana herself. Instead, the task was entrusted to Diana’s private secretary, Patrick Jephson. Jephson called the Queen’s office on a car telephone while en route to an official engagement with Princess Diana. This means that the scene where Diana tells Queen Elizabeth about the interview to her face is completely fictional.

Did Prince Charles’ Tampon Phone Call Leak?

Prince Charles smiling while looking out the window in The Crown.

The 1993 leaking of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’ intimate phone conversation from 1989 really did happen, despite how outrageous it sounds. A transcript of the full conversation was published by the British press and caused a massive scandal, especially as both Charles and Camilla were married to other people at the time. The publishing of the transcript also led to the divorce between Camilla and her then-husband Andrew Parker Bowles.

Did Diana Wear Disguises?

Princess Diana smiling behind clasped hands

As shown in The Crown, Princess Diana really did wear disguises in public while she was dating surgeon Hasnat Khan. The Crown depicts Diana in a long, brunette wig and sunglasses while she is waiting for Khan to arrive at the cinema for their incognito date, watching the film Apollo 13. In real life, Diana would wear dark wigs and sunglasses in an attempt to blend in while out in public with Khan. Diana and Khan would date for two years, between 1995-97. She began seeing Mohamed Al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, later in 1997.

Related: Full List Of The Crown Season 5 Cameos (& When They Happen)

Did Dodi Al-Fayed Dump Kelly Fisher For Diana?


In the final episode of The Crown season 5, model and aspiring-actress Kelly Fisher is introduced as the girl Dodi Al-Fayed is determined to marry, despite his father’s disapproval. In real life, Fisher and Al-Fayed were engaged in 1996 while, in The Crown, their engagement’s timing is changed to the summer of 1997. Fisher claimed that Dodi dumped her on the phone, shortly after he met Diana. She then tried to sue Dodi for dumping her but dropped the lawsuit after Dodi and Diana’s deaths.

All episodes of The Crown season 5 are now available on Netflix

Next: What Happened To Diana, Dodi & Mohamed Al-Fayed After The Crown Season 5?


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