The Crown is one of the most successful TV dramas about the British royal family. It focuses on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II throughout several decades, from her unexpected ascension to the throne through motherhood to scandalous events around Prince Charles’ divorce. So, is The Crown historically accurate? Here’s everything the show got right and wrong about Her Majesty the Queen.
#1 True: How Elizabeth learned her father had died
At the time of George VI’s sudden death in 1952, Elizabeth and her husband Philip were on a royal trip around Kenya. And this happened exactly how The Crown depicted it. It was really Philippe who had to relay the sad news to his wife. Even though her dad had been suffering from cancer for a long time, the news of his death still came as a shock to Elizabeth.
The Crown does a phenomenal job of portraying her heartbreak over it. Another historically accurate fact is that Elizabeth hadn’t packed a black dress for her trip to Kenya, so they had to bring one onto her plane after the sudden death of her father.
#2 True and False: Princess Margaret and Pete Townsend’s romance
One of the central plots of the first season of The Crown is Princess Margaret’s intense relationship with Pete Townsend. This romance was very much real, so The Crown does a good job with it. However, there are some aspects of this tumultuous relationship that the show doesn’t get quite right.
Even though the Princess wasn’t really permitted to marry a divorced man (otherwise, she’d need to renounce her royal status), it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth who stood in their way. In fact, she even went out of her way to draw up papers that would allow Margaret to retain her royal title even if she married Peter Townsend.
But unfortunately, after facing several challenges throughout the years, Princess Margaret and Peter’s relationship eventually ran its course, and the two never had their happy ending after all.
#3 True: Friendship with Porchey
Another historically accurate fact that The Crown gets right is Queen Elizabeth’s friendship with Henry Herbert, also knowns as Porchey. The two indeed connected over their shared love of horses and the countryside, so the show did a great job depicting their closeness and attachment.
But what the show gets a bit wrong is the allegation that Elizabeth potentially had a secret crush on her childhood friend, as well as Prince Philip’s intense jealousy scenes. According to historians, that never really happened, as Elizabeth only had eyes for her husband her whole life.
#4 True and False: The Kennedys
One of the most popular episodes of The Crown is when the British royal family meets the closest thing the US ever had to royals – the Kennedys. While it’s historically accurate that the Queen welcomed President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy at Buckingham Palace, we’re still not completely certain that Jackie insulted the British monarch in the way the show presents it. There are, however, some speculations that Jackie was indeed critical of the British royal family, allegedly calling them outdated and dilapidated.
#5 True and False: Prince Philipp’s reluctance to kneel in front of the Queen
In the first season of the show, we watch Philip refuse to kneel in front of the new Queen, which is his wife, Elizabeth. However, there’s no historical record of his reluctance to kneel. In fact, it may be an over-exaggeration of The Crown to create some dramatic events that will get people talking. Since Philipp also came from a royal family, he probably never got to question this sacred royal ritual. On another hand, historians state that there were indeed some tensions between Elizabeth and Philip in the early years of her reign caused by Philip’s worries over his status.
#6 False: Princess Diana’s successful Balmoral Test
Even though the show portrayed Diana’s first visit to Balmoral as successful, the truth is it actually made her feel nervous. Obviously, Diana passed this royal initiation and went on to become a princess. However, in her book Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, she described it as a negative experience that made her feel panicky.