The Crown is Netflix's $100 million hit true-life drama which has been described as 'the most expensive television series ever.' Critics and audiences were won over by Claire Foy's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II as she battles with the public, politics and her often rebellious husband Prince Phillip who is played by Matt Smith.
The show is created by piecing together events, photos, film archives, speeches, and first-hand witness accounts that had all been recorded for history's sake. Now with a peak fascination surrounding the Royals - the family vaults are being cracked open for all the world to see. Although all that fans really want to know about the hit show is just how accurate is it?
Historical biographer and consultant for the show Robert Lacey told Forbes, "The series is incredibly accurate and true to the history. If you go into the Left Bank offices - Left Bank being the company producing the series for Netflix - the first thing you see is a huge newsroom with eight full-time researchers working away, and that’s just the start, the raw material."
That said, there have been a few twists when it comes to telling the whole truth along the way. Here we take a look at the most shocking moments in the show and determine whether it's the shocking truth or just pure fiction.
16 TRUE: The Queen Would Turn A Blind Eye To Her Husband's Partying
Prince Phillip met Elizabeth II during his time at Windsor after he had joined the Royal Navy. Although she was five years his junior, the couple instantly clicked and they married in 1947. Understanding how much pressure he was under and that he was always in her shadow, the Queen often turned a blind eye to his late-night partying or weekends away with his close male friends.
Royal biographer Ingrid Seward told the Radio Times, "She was very conscious of the fact that he had to walk two steps behind her, and I think as a result she was very forgiving of any of his little misdemeanors. You know, when he got drunk at the Thursday Club and when he came home late." Adding, "She was forgiving of him, because she felt that he’d been emasculated by her position, and he’s a very alpha male."
15 FALSE: Prince Phillip Was NOT Unfaithful
In season two, the writers deal with the tricky subject surrounding Prince Phillips alleged affairs. The Crown gave quite a clear impression (without directly showing anything) that Phillip had been unfaithful but all of this is just speculation only. Royal biographer Ingrid Seward told the Radio Times, "He couldn’t even look at another woman without the press saying that he was probably having an affair. There is absolutely no proof that he was unfaithful."
When Prince Phillip was once asked by a very brave reporter if any of the reports of infidelity are true, he replied, "How could I? I have had a detective in my company, night and day, since 1947." It's a storyline we were all led to believe but simply just not true and 70 years later, they are both still going strong.
14 TRUE: Prince Phillip Was An Outrageous Flirt
During his younger years, Phillip was handsome, charming and also a good dancer. During season two, when Jackie Kennedy arrives at Buckingham Palace, Prince Phillip can be seen flirting openly with the First Lady - something which happened a lot. Seward revealed, "He was a terrible flirt and the Queen really never minded that. I think she just so wanted Philip to be able to enjoy himself a bit; if Philip was in a good mood everyone was in a good mood, because of his bonhomie sort of spread, so if he wanted to flirt that was fine by her. I don’t think that worried her at all."
Seward also revealed, "The Queen would turn a blind eye to it. She was confident in his love, and she sort of said, 'Well men will be men.' That was her attitude. It doesn’t mean she was not hurt, but she wouldn’t show it."
13 FALSE: Jackie Kennedy Didn't Say Those Horrible Things About The Queen
In 1961, the Queen and Prince Phillip threw a splendid dinner to honor the arrival of President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. In the show, it appears that following the visit, Jackie Kennedy then went off and trash talked the Queen calling her "a middle-aged woman so incurious, unintelligent, and unremarkable that Britain’s new reduced place in the world was not a surprise but an inevitability," and that Buckingham Palace was "second-rate, dilapidated, and sad."
WHat Jackie Kennedy actually said was greatly exaggerated. According to The Telegraph, the First Lady had confided in Gore Vidal who remembers her saying the Queen was "pretty heavy going" and she felt "resented" by her. Robert Lacey, historical consultant for The Crown, explained to Vogue, "I think that the personal tension between Elizabeth and Jackie is speculative. I’m not saying it didn’t exist - you can’t say it’s false, you can’t say it’s true. I think it’s perfectly plausible that the Queen felt upstaged by Jackie."
12 TRUE: Prince Charles Really Did Think School Was A Prison Sentence
Phillip was furious after discovering his children would not take his surname. Biographer Gyles Brandreth writes in Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Royal Marriage that he said, "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children." So when it came to making a decision about Prince Charles' education - this time Phillip wanted full control.
When it came to schooling, Phillip said Charles would attend Gordonstoun in Scotland so he could have privacy from the press. The Queen Mother argued that he would be "terribly cut off and lonely in the far north" but this time Phillip was not ready to let anyone else win this battle.
Charles was miserable, lonely and depressed during his time away at school. He recalls the time as "a prison sentence" and his close school friend revealed, "He was crushingly lonely for most of his time there. The wonder is that he survived with his sanity intact."
11 FALSE: Prince Phillip Wasn't Linked To A Ballerina... But Someone Else
Once again, the Crown decided to bend the truth when it came to Phillip's fascination with the Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova. When the Queen finds Phillip has a photograph of the dancers, she then decides to watch her perform ballet at a sold-out theatre - something which only tortures her further. It's unknown whether Phillip really was a fan of Ulanova, her shows would sell out instantly so in reality, everyone was a fan.
The real dancer and actress he was linked to was Pat Kirkwood. Although the rumors were always denied, the reports revealed that in 1948, he visited her dressing room and they both went out to dinner. The newspaper headlines read: "The Prince and the Showgirl" but this shocking scandal was left out of the show.
10 TRUE: The Queen Did Stop Her Sister From Marrying Her True Love
Is there anything more gripping than an illicit romance? Especially where the Royal family is concerned. In 1953, Princess Margaret - the Queen's only sibling - was spotted picking a piece of fluff off the uniform of RAF Group Captain Peter Townsend by a journalist and the scandal was made public. Since the passing of her father, King George VI, Townsend was employed as the controller of the Royal household and this is how the affair began.
Townsend divorced his wife and proposed to a then-22-year-old Princess Margaret but as she was under 25, she needed the Queen's permission to marry. The Queen, with the help of Winston Churchill, sent Townsend out to Brussels for work and Margaret was told to wait until she was older. Also, if she chose to wed the divorcee she would lose her royal spending allowance and her claim to the throne. Margaret was left with no choice other than to let go of her dreams of marrying Townsend.
9 FALSE: The Queen and Jackie Kennedy Didn't Have A Cuddle Session With Corgis
Did the Queen and Jackie Kennedy really have a private cuddle session surrounded by corgis at the Buckingham Palace? Sadly not. The scene was purely fictional however the Queen does introduce her corgis to new members of the Royal family like most recently Meghan Markle. Prince Harry was amazed how well the Queen's furry companions took to his fiance as he revealed, "For the last 33 years, I’ve been barked at. This one (pointing at Meghan) walks in, and absolutely nothing! Just wagging tails."
According to Prince Harry and Prince William, the constant barking of the corgis at the palace is enough to drive anyone mad. They joked, "I don’t know how she copes with it." At least now we know the way to the Queen's heart is through her corgis.
8 TRUE: Princess Margaret's Husband Did Father A Love Child
When Princess Margaret heard of Townsend's engagement, she quickly rushed down the aisle with Antony Armstrong-Jones - another suitor her sister wasn't too impressed with. Known more commonly as Lord Snowdon, he had a reputation as a man who loved to fool around and their marriage lasted just 18 years. The first years of their marriage were happy and passionate, they had two children together and would enjoy regular holidays.
Then it emerged that Lord Snowdon had fathered a love child - a daughter named Polly Fry. The parents who raised Polly, Jeremy and Camilla Fry, were close friends of Lord Snowdon and attended his wedding to Princess Margaret. When a DNA test proved that Lord Snowdon was Polly's father, she told the Daily Mail, "Finding out at the age of 45 that the man I had idolised and put on a pedestal higher than Nelson’s Column since I was a small child was not, in fact, my father was a hard burden to bear.”
7 TRUE: He Did Get Involved With His Friend AND His Wife
In one scene of The Crown, the Queen's courtier Tommy Lascelles looked into the background and private life of Lord Snowdon. They found that the photographer had a reputation for romancing both men and women. During his later years, Lord Snowdon was more forward about his sexuality but he never confirmed anything. He once said, "I didn’t fall in love with boys, but a few men have been in love with me."
His love child with Camilla Fry proves that he had been romantic with his close friend and it is also believed that her husband Jeremy was also involved. There are a few scenes in The Crown where all three of them have clearly just finished an embrace - something which is not far from the truth at all.
6 TRUE: Prince Phillip Did Have Family Ties To The Nazis
Prince Phillip was born in 1921, the youngest child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. When he was just 18-months-old, his parents and four older sisters fled for Paris. Aged 9-years-old, his mother was institutionalized with schizophrenia and his father moved to Monte Carlo to be with his mistress. Phillip was sent to school in England and he was very much alone.
When he was 16-years-old, Phillip's sister Cecile had died in a plane accident alongside her husband. He traveled to Germany for the funeral and realized Cecile had joined the Nazi Party earlier that year. The above photo caused a scandal as Phillip can be seen clearly walking with Nazi soldiers as the crowd salutes - however, he was in their company only briefly for the funeral before returning back to England.
5 FALSE: Prince Phillip Was Not Responsible For His Sister's Death
In The Crown, Prince Phillip is tragically blamed for the death of his sister, Cecile. The plane accident took place when she was on her way to a wedding and she gave birth to her newborn baby during that flight. According to the show, Cecile wasn't going to attend the wedding as she wanted to wait for Phillip to visit her. However, Phillip had been fighting at school and was sentenced to stay behind. Cecile then got on the plane and sealed her tragic fate. Phillip's father on the show tells him at the funeral, "You’re the reason we’re all here, burying my favorite child."
None of which is actually true. Royal historian Hugo Vickers told Vogue that the scene made him "cross" and he called it "utter drivel." He added, "There was no fight, almost certainly no half term, and Prince Philip would not have gone to Germany anyway. His sister was always coming to the wedding. Yes, the plane crashed. Prince Philip had nothing to do with the accident at all."
4 TRUE: The Bells Were Really Rung When JFK Was Assassinated
On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, while riding with his wife Jackie Kennedy in a presidential motorcade. The shooter was named as former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald and it was concluded that he acted alone.
In The Crown, the Queen and her mother watch Jackie Kennedy as Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as President on board Air Force One. Both of the Royals are shocked that Jackie is still wearing her pink Chanel suit stained with her husband's blood. This did actually happen as Jackie told her aides, "Let them see what they've done."
According to Four Days in November: The Original Coverage of the John F. Kennedy Assassination, the bell at Westminister was rung every minute between 11:00 a.m. and noon. Queen Elizabeth had ordered this and it was the first time the bell had been rung for anyone other than a member of the royal family.
3 FALSE: The Queen Did Not Hold A Private Meeting With Her Biggest Critic
Lord Altrincham was one of the Queen's fiercest critics. He called her a "priggish schoolgirl", her style of speaking is a "pain in the neck" and he cried out for the palace to "modernize" it's ways. Years later in an interview with Channel 4, Lord Altrincham revealed he was the first of his kind as before the 1950s "you couldn’t say a word against the royal family, let alone the Queen."
In The Crown, the Queen appears to meet with her hater to talk about his criticisms of her and the palace but this never actually happened. Instead, he met with one her private secretaries and even though he never had a direct audience with the Queen, most of his views were listened to. The Palace now credits him as modernizing the monarchy how it's known today.
2 TRUE: The Great Smog in London Took The Lives of 4,000 People
In season one, the Great Smog of London brings the capital to a standstill. In reality, the smog was more lethal than imagined as, in just four days, the thick yellow smog took the lives of more than 4,000 people in 1952. The smog was so bad that all transport stopped and theatre shows were canceled because audiences couldn't even see the stage. Some of those who died didn't even suffer lung problems, instead, they had fallen into the River Thames because they couldn't see in front of them as they walked.
Although the London air appears much cleaner now, the traffic fumes are still causing dangerous levels of pollution. The government estimates that around 24,000 a year have their life shortened due to the high levels of pollution.
1 FALSE: The Queen Absolutely Did Not Dance The Foxtrot
So the Queen's visit to Ghana is half true. Ghana had agreed to join the Commonwealth and the Queen's face was on their currency but there was a big fall out when Ghana became close to Russia immediately afterward. Having already lost Ghana before, the Queen did travel to Ghana to fix their relationship and she did meet with the leader of the country. However, she absolutely did not dance the foxtrot with him.
One of the biggest rumors is that the Queen's favorite song is actually Abba's Dancing Queen (yes, really). According to a report from the Mirror, following a dinner, the disco hit started playing and her majesty said, "I always try to dance when this song comes on, because I am the Queen, and I like to dance." We really wish this is actually true.
Sources: radiotimes.com, vogue.com