A little fact-checking to put Westminster Abbey back in the center of the English village.
The first four episodes of season 6 of The Crown have been available on Netflix for a few days and fantastically complete the Diana arc. We see the passionate relationship of the ex-princess with Dodi, her terrible accident in Paris and the days which followed her tragic word, notably at Balmoral, at the heart of the royal family. But what is true? And what has been completely fictionalized or even invented? The British press (via The Independent and The Evening Standard) puts things in order. Spoiler alert!
Diana and Tony Blair
What the series says: In episode 1, we see Diana coming to pay an impromptu visit to Prime Minister Tony Blair at his home in Checkers, accompanied by William. They spend the day with family, play football and then discuss Lady Di’s new role in British affairs, now that she is out of the royal family.
What is true : A lunch actually took place, and Diana wanted to be an “ambassador” of Britain abroad.
What is wrong : it was Cherie Blair, Tony Blair’s wife, who invited Diana, which the Prime Minister mentions in his biography.
Camilla’s 50th birthday
What the series says : Charles fights to make this great social event a showcase that will allow the Kingdom to officially accept its new companion. He absolutely wants his mother to come. But the Queen ends up refusing.
What is true : Charles threw a party for Camilla.
What is wrong : The press was not invited and it was never expected that the Queen would be there. Besides, Princess Margaret wasn’t there either. Charles didn’t even give a speech. The only person who spoke was Tom Parker-Bowles, Camilla’s son, who thanked Charles for hosting the party.
The photo of Diana in a leopard swimsuit
What the series says : Seeking to distract attention from Camilla’s 50th birthday, Diana allegedly played with the Paparazzi during her vacation.
What is true : She actually posed that day in Saint-Tropez and the former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Tina Brown, writes in Diana Chronicles (in 2007) that Diana often informed the press and could not help but give them the shots they wanted, including on the boat.
What is wrong : The staging of the photo suggests that she posed to annoy her ex-husband, which has never been confirmed.
Dodi and his fiancée, Kelly Fisher
What the series says : When Diana meets Dodi, he is engaged to the American Kelly Fisher.
What is true : This Victoria’s Secret model actually met Dodi in July 1996. She was indeed on another yacht when her fiancé was flirting with Diana, later saying that they had tried to “hide” her. And she did sue Dodi after their separation.
What is wrong : Kelly Fisher launched a breach of contract lawsuit against Dodi after he allegedly asked her to stop modeling in order to prioritize their relationship. The Al-Fayed family, on the other hand, has always denied that Dodi had proposed to him and that they were to buy a house together in Malibu. She dropped her case after Dodi’s death.
The response photo of Charles with the boys
What the series says : Charles tries to take revenge for Diana’s leopard swimsuit photo, by organizing a photo session with William and Harry in Balmoral Park, presenting himself as a responsible father on a walk, orchestrated by Mark Bolland, via a specialist who adores the Royal family.
What is true : There was indeed a photo shoot organized that summer at Balmoral.
What is wrong : The nice photographer Duncan Muir does not exist. And this photo session was planned, with several official royal photographers authorized to take photos of the family.
What the series says : When Diana returns from her vacation in Saint-Tropez, she finds her apartment filled with roses, with a luxury watch, as a message to come and meet Dodi in Paris.
What is true : When Diana returned from vacation on July 21, 1997, she discovered that Dodi had given her a £6,500 Cartier watch.
What is wrong : Was there really a message with the watch?
The photo of Diana and Dodi’s kiss
What the series says : While the couple begins to date, Mohamed Al-Fayed manipulates behind the scenes so that his son becomes the husband of the former Princess, a means for him to access the royal family, his ultimate dream. He goes so far as to hire a paparazzi himself who will take a photo of Diana and Dodi kissing, to make it official.
What is true : Diana actually told Mohamed Al-Fayed that she had nowhere to take her sons for the summer vacation and he suggested that she come to the south of France. That’s where she met Dodi. And a photo of the couple kissing on a yacht was sold to the British press for millions of pounds just days later.
What is wrong : Nothing suggests that the patriarch really manipulated everything behind the scenes. According to Mario Brenna, the photographer mentioned in the series, the version of events of The Crown is completely false. In the New York Times this weekend, he claims that the kissing photo episode is “absurd and completely invented”. He assures that he was just spending his summers in Sardinia, and that he came across Diana and Dodi by chance that day. A stroke of luck !
Dodi’s marriage proposal to Diana
What the series says : This is certainly the most controversial part of this season 6. The Crown suggests that Dodi, pushed by his father, rushed a marriage proposal after a few weeks of dating the princess… who would have said no. The couple even broke up the evening of the accident!
What is true : Dodi had bought a ring from the “Dis-moi Oui” collection, described as an “engagement ring”. On the afternoon of August 30, just after the couple arrived in Paris, Dodi went to a jeweler and bought a Repossi diamond engagement ring worth £11,600. Mohammed Al-Fayed would later say that it was not a surprise purchase and that the couple was already looking for rings in Monte Carlo. According to him, a ring had been custom-made in Italy and then delivered to Paris.
What is wrong : According to the English press, video surveillance from August 30, 1997 shows Dodi at the jeweler looking at various diamond rings, suggesting that none had been chosen. Mohamed Al-Fayed always claimed that his son planned to propose to Diana that fateful night. But this would never have happened and according to Diana’s entourage, there was no question at all for the Princess of marrying Dodi. When the couple left the hotel for the last time to go to Dodi’s apartment from the Ritz, they did not have the ring with them. And she would have been found in her apartment.
Charles in Paris to recover Diana’s body
What the series says : In the wake of the accident, Charles insists that a royal plane be chartered so that Diana’s body can be repatriated. He leaves alone for Paris to see the death of his ex-wife. Collapsed, he cries in the hospital…
What is true : Charles went to Paris to collect the body, welcomed by Jacques Chirac.
What is wrong : He didn’t spend time alone with Diana’s body in the hospital and no one heard him cry – at least officially. Diana’s sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, were actually on the trip. The three of them stayed together with Diana’s body for around ten minutes, after thanking the establishment staff for their efforts. And it was actually the Queen, not Charles, who arranged the plane that took Diana home.
The disappearance of Prince William
What the series says : Devastated by the death of his mother, William disappears from Balmoral. It’s the panic. The whole castle goes looking for him, even his little brother Harry. A fight that will achieve nothing. The young Duke will return 14 hours later, soaked. We don’t know where he went.
What is true : In a documentary titled Diana, 7 DaysPrince William recounts his days at Balmoral Castle after Diana’s death: “I remember feeling completely numb, disoriented, dizzy. I was very, very confused.“He would have found solace in the great Scottish outdoors and the little local church at Crathie Kirk.
What is wrong : It never really disappeared. This disappearance symbolizes the way in which William connected with Scotland, in a solitary way, to digest the death of his mother.