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Home / TV / The Crown season 4 fact-checked: Did the Balmoral test happen, did Diana and Camilla have lunch?

The Crown season 4 fact-checked: Did the Balmoral test happen, did Diana and Camilla have lunch?

Many scenes in season four of The Crown seem too unbelievable to be true -- for instance, did Diana and Camilla really have lunch at a restaurant called Ménage à Trois? Here’s a fact-check.

tv Updated: Nov 19, 2020, 17:21 IST
HT Entertainment Desk
HT Entertainment Desk
Hindustan Times
Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor play Princess Diana and Prince Charles in season four of The Crown.
Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor play Princess Diana and Prince Charles in season four of The Crown.

Between the Balmoral test and Diana’s lunch date with Camilla Parker Bowles, the latest season of Netflix’s The Crown has many moments that might seem too unbelievable to have actually happened. But you’d be surprised how much of it is true.

The fourth season of The Crown debuted on November 15, and it charts the doomed romance of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, against the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth II’s evolving monarchy. Multiple reports quoting royal insiders have already suggested that series creator Peter Morgan is on thin ice, having deviated from documented fact a little too drastically.

Also read: The Crown is a ‘cruel and unfair’ portrayal of the royals, Prince Charles would be ‘incredibly upset’: biographer

Entertainment Weekly conducted a fact-check of several prominent scenes in the season, and this is what it found.

Charles did indeed utter the ominous words “whatever ‘in love’ means” when asked at a press conference if he was in love with Diana.

Similarly, newspaper reports at the time mentioned Diana’s meeting with Camilla, which actually took place at a restaurant called Ménage à Trois. The new season continues to tell Charles and Camilla’s illicit love affair, a plot point that hasn’t gone down too well with him, if a recent The Sun report is to be believed.

Also true is the Balmoral test, at which the royal family puts unsuspecting people through the paces in the Scottish highlands. What’s more, Margaret Thatcher was indeed unprepared for the test, and had to borrow more appropriate shoes, as has been shown in the series. There is no evidence that points to the royals playing the Ibble Dibble parlour game, however.

 

According to biographer Andrew Morton, who conducted interviews with Diana, the princess got a whiff of her husband’s affair with Camilla when she discovered a bangle with the initials G and F engraved on it. In the show, it is suggested that Diana discovered drawings of the bangle, and not the finished product. The initials stand for Gladys and Fred -- Charles and Camilla’s nicknames for each other. However, another royal insider, Penny Junor, claims that although Charles did gift such a bracelet to Camilla, the initials actually stood for Girl Friday -- simply a helpful woman.

Actor Helena Bonham Carter said that Princess Margaret’s disapproval of the manner in which the family was treating Charles and Diana’s crumbling marriage was her own suggestion, she said at a press conference. “Maybe I’ve totally imagined this, but I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to be encouraging an interference with a marriage when — back when I was Vanessa Kirby back in season 1 — my whole life was destroyed by my sister interfering with a marriage.’”

One of the most unbelievable, but also best documented plot points in the season is the episode five break-in. Michael Fagan indeed managed to break into the Buckingham Palace in 1982 -- not once, but twice. But what actually transpired between himself and the Queen remains shrouded in mystery. The show depicts a politically charged exchange between the two, but Fagan told The Independent, “Nah! She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor.”

Another sad reality is the family’s deliberate distancing of a few mentally ill members. The Queen’s first cousins, Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, were secretly admitted to the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives, but the manner in which Margaret and Elizabeth discovered this in the show -- they conducted research after Margaret’s therapist told her about it -- is perhaps not true.

Also read: The Crown season 4 review: All hail Emma Corrin, scene-stealer as Princess Diana in the finest season of Netflix’s lavish show

Previously, Penny Junor had told The Times that Peter Morgan ‘invented stuff to make expensive and very rich drama.’ She said, “It’s the most cruel and unfair and horrible portrayal of almost all of them,” and predicted that Charles would be ‘incredibly upset’ by the show.

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