With greater success comes greater responsibility and the minute The Crown season 4 hit Netflix, the big-money drama faced renewed scrutiny for its increasingly shaky relationship with the truth.
The fourth season follows two central plotlines: the tumultuous relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and the reign of the United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her time in office.
While The Crown famously employs an army of researchers and Royal biographers, the fourth season has come under fire for upping the drama at the expense of the facts.
In an interview with The Times, the show’s creator, Peter Morgan, admitted that “sometimes you have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake the truth.”
We’ve sifted through some of the key moments from The Crown season 4 to separate the fairytale from the factual.
Did The Queen dislike Margaret Thatcher?
Answer: Fact and Fiction
Britain’s two most powerful ladies are shown clashing on several issues, from the collapse of British manufacturing industries to the massive unemployment that followed.
It’s commonly accepted that Margaret and Her Majesty were far from friends. A 1986 report in The Sunday Times claimed: “Queen dismayed by ‘uncaring’ Thatcher.”
But their most significant fallout comes during episode eight, 4:81 when the pair butt heads over the Prime Minister’s refusal to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa. In the episode, The Queen is shown to be shocked by Thatcher’s position that she considers cancelling their weekly meeting.
While there’s no proof that The Queen planned to abandon her weekly audience with the Prime Minister, her frustrations were real.
As shown in The Crown, The Queen’s press secretary, Michael Shea, leaks a memo to the press which shone a light on the Queen’s frustrations.
“There is a wide view too that the Queen is in a rage with Mrs Thatcher over her handling of the sanctions question,” read the memo.
Did Bob Hawke call the Queen a pig?
The Australian episode of The Crown (officially titled ‘Terra Nullis‘ but in reality should’ve been called ‘Charles & Diana Do Down Under’) begins with incoming Prime Minister Bob Hawke (played by Richard Roxburgh) appearing on the ABC program Four Corners.
Hawke is doing a whole riff on why Australia should be a republic, and he ends with this pearler: “No unelected non-Australian, who lives on the other side of the world, and for all good intentions, is a different breed. You wouldn’t put a pig in charge of a herd of prime beef cut even if it did look good in a twin set and pearls.”
Referring to The Queen as a pig is pretty red hot, it’s also a pretty big lie.
The closest Hawke came to saying thing remotely controversial during the real Four Corners interview was admitting “I don’t think we’ll be talking about Kings in Australia forevermore. I believe we’d be better off as a republic.”
Four Corners have also come out and denied the pig comment, posting the real clip as proof of the former PM’s words.
Did Charles really say ‘whatever in love means‘ during an interview following his engagement to Diana?
Episode four, ‘Favourites’, centres around the historical engagement between Princes Charles and Diana on February 24, 1981. Shortly after their engagement, the pair sat down with the BBC for a now-infamous interview.
In the program, we’re shown a nervous Diana hiding behind Charles while fielding questions on their relationship. At one point, a reporter comments “You both look very much in love,” to which Diana replies “Oh yes. Absolutely.” Charles then awkwardly adds, “whatever in love means.”
It turns out this burn is brutally realistic (check the clip below), and in later years Diana would admit the words stung her deeply. In the documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, the princess admits, “That threw me completely, I thought ‘what a strange answer’. It absolutely traumatised me.”
Did Diana rearrange the Royal tour of Australia at the last minute so she could visit Prince William?
One of the more dramatic moments of ‘Terra Nullius’ comes during a mile-high confrontation between Charles and Diana. Charles appears frustrated that Diana decided to bring baby William on the six-week trip. Things go from bad to worse when Diana learns plans have changed, and they’ll be separated from William for two weeks.
Cue a Princess of Wales meltdown that ends with her rescheduling the entire tour so that Charles and Diana can visit William.
In reality, the tour schedule was never rearranged, and Diana was more than aware of her responsibilities as Princess of Wales in relation to her parenting.
“I was ready to leave William. I accepted that as part of my duty, albeit it wasn’t going to be easy,” Diana told her biographer, Andrew Morton.
“We didn’t see very much of him [William], but at least we were under the same sky, so to speak”.
Did Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan have a ten-minute chat with the Queen?
The daring break-in gets a whole episode in season four, but perhaps it’s time to revoke Peter Morgan’s artistic license as he takes some serious liberties with this slice of history.
On July 9, 1982, disenfranchised Londoner Michael Fagan scaled Buckingham Palace’s 14-foot-high perimeter wall and broke into the Queen’s bedroom.
Fagan disturbs the Queen and ends up sitting on the edge of her bed, engaging in a ten-minute conversation. The Crown paints the exchange as a meeting between the common man and the monarch.
In reality, the Queen shit the bed (not literally) upon seeing Fagan. According to a 2012 interview with Fagan, the Queen did a runner the second she laid eyes on her intruder.
“She went past me and ran out of the room, her little bare feet running across the floor,” recalled Fagan.
Now you’ve fact-check The Crown season 4, read up on everything you should expect from The Crown season 5.