Separating fact from fiction
Season 5 of The Crown finally aired on Netflix after two years of waiting. The first season of The Crown aired in 2016, telling the story of all the major players in the royal family trees starting just before Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne. Every season since has covered roughly a decade or so in the lives of the royals.
The new season of The Crown takes place between 1991 and 1997 and sees Charles and Diana nearing the end of their tumultuous marriage, securing their position as global tabloid fodder. (And, as season five points out, coverage of their lives would often blur the line between journalism and salacious gossip.)
Despite the fact that there was so much real-life royal drama during this time, there are elements of The Crown that are not based on real events – so much so that Netflix added a disclaimer when releasing the trailer for this season that stated, ‘Inspired by real events, this fictional dramatisation tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II and the political and personal events that shaped her reign.’
It can be confusing to parse fact from fiction. Here’s a fact check of The Crown season five to help understand what’s real and what’s not.
Here’s what was actually true in The Crown – and what wasn’t
Most of the historical events that have appeared on The Crown are based on true events. Let’s start with a few things that definitely happened.
Truth: Martin Bashir did use false evidence to convince Princess Diana to appear on Panorama
On The Crown Season 5 Episode 7, BBC journalist Martin Bashir (played by Prasanna Puwanarajah) is shown fabricating fake bank statements to convince Charles Spencer and his sister, Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki), into believing that members of their trusted teams were being paid off by British intelligence services for information about them. In turn, Bashir played into their fears and earned Diana’s trust enough to convince her to appear on his TV show, Panorama, giving one of the most explosive interviews of the decade.
In 2020, an independent inquiry did find Bashir guilty of wrongdoing, and the BBC apologised to Charles Spencer for Bashir’s deception.