As much of the past few years has been spent arguing over whether The Crown should come with a “this is a fictionalised version of events” warning or not (it eventually did, thanks to a last minute push from Judi Dench), episode nine seems to be where the series five really takes a giant leap away from reality.
According to Peter Morgan’s view of the mid-’90s, Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) was juggling more than just the British electorate needs, and was frequently called in by the royal family with their own agendas and dilemmas to sort through. No, Prince Charles didn’t really ask Major for help in encouraging the Queen to abdicate; and while it’s true the Queen and Major did have a good working relationship, did she really ask him to mediate between Charles and Diana during their divorce, because, as the show has it, “you’ve done such good work in Northern Ireland”? The problematic comparison of The Troubles to a royal marriage aside, let’s do a little fact-checking of our own…
In news that was precisely a shock to no one, Prince Charles and Diana separated in 1992, following a tumultuous marriage and the revelation of shocking details from it in Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: Her True Story. Here – from Diana’s own mouth, though it was claimed it was through friends and other sources – she detailed Charles’ relationship with Camilla during their marriage, as well as Diana’s issues with post-natal depression and bulimia.
Around this time, Major did actually find the time from his day job running the UK to try and help Charles and Diana through the treacherous waters of their union. And according to Anthony Seldon, Major’s biographer and author of Major: A Political Life, he did offer help, but “any support and guidance Major could offer was to no avail. After it was clear that the marriage was unsustainable, his prime concern became the constitutional position.”
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