How Accurate Is Princess Diana’s Portrayal In Season 4 Of ‘The Crown’?
The Crown has finally begun telling the highly anticipated story of Princess Diana with the release of its fourth season, retelling her struggles with bulimia, feelings of deep loneliness and her dysfunctional marriage with Prince Charles. The show’s creator Peter Morgan has partnered with Robert Lacey as his historical consultant, and together, they put together a story of Diana to tell in the show’s latest season.
“We, historians, are like gardeners: we stand there with a sieve, and all the events of the past go through the sieve, and a lot of it falls below,” Lacey said of his creative process in a 2019 interview. “What’s left in the sieve, that’s the history that the historian deals with,” he continued, “but lots of things pass through and can only be accessed by informed invention and imagination, and that’s what we do with The Crown. We do incredible research.”
True to his sieve metaphor, Lacey kept the show as historically accurate as possible while inventing moments between Charles, Diana and others to make their story clearer for the show.
For instance, Charles and Diana met while Diana was 16, and through Charles’ relationship with her older sister Sarah, which is true in both real life and the show. However, in the show Charles and Diana meet while Diana is dressed in a cute costume for her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In real life, though they did meet at 16, the pair met at a hunting party, and Diana was dressed in hunting attire, not a costume. Still, the real Diana developed a huge crush on Charles afterwards, and when he got dumped a few years later, she jumped at the chance to see him at a mutual friend’s home.
Diana’s episode two visit to Balmoral was a total success – but in real life, Diana hated the royal family visit. In Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, she described how she was incredibly anxious leading up to the trip, and by its end, she felt isolated and drained, only finding companionship in Prince Andrew and Princess Margaret.
In the show, Charles and his ex Camilla Parker Bowles have an affair, and exchange multiple gifts of affection. The gifts were all pulled from real life, including a bracelet Camilla sends to Charles just before his and Diana’s wedding, but the real life bracelet was engraved with a G and F not because of nicknames between Charles and Camilla, but to stand for “Girl Friday” – a term for a female assistant or helper.
Other details, such as Charles’ jealousy for Diana’s fame, Diana’s issues with self-image culminating in an eating disorder, her stray from royal tradition and her love for two other men, are portrayed with fair accuracy as well, drama added in the form of crowds chanting for Diana and a scandalous conversation with the Queen.
The Crown is now streaming on Netflix.