The Crown season 6 | What's fact and fiction, from Madame Bikini to a runaway price?

Known for taking poetic license at times when detailing the lives of the Royal family, what’s fact and what is fiction as ‘The Crown’ S6 arrives on Netflix?
Elizabeth Debicki as the ghost of Princess Diana with Imelda Staunton's Queen Elizabeth in The Crown's final seasonElizabeth Debicki as the ghost of Princess Diana with Imelda Staunton's Queen Elizabeth in The Crown's final season
Elizabeth Debicki as the ghost of Princess Diana with Imelda Staunton's Queen Elizabeth in The Crown's final season

The final season of Netflix’s historical-based drama, ‘The Crown,’ has arrived on Netflix today, with Season 6 broken into two parts. Part A, the first four episodes that detail the final days of Princess Diana’s life, are available to watch now with Part B to arrive on the streaming giant on December 14 2023. 

The first four episodes are particularly gruelling to watch, with Elizabeth Debicki stunning at Princess Diana, capturing the quiet-yet-confident charm of the “People’s Princess,” thought as a viewer one can’t help but feel that the machinations of Mohammed al-Fayed might be played a little more for dramatic effect. 

But previously, of course, ‘The Crown’ has been accused of taking liberties with the historical accuracy of the Royal family - so much so that eventually, the series had to include a disclaimer before each episode to highlight that, despite the events being steeped in reality, ‘The Crown’ is still a work of fiction. With that comes the justification for poetic license, say, an apparition of Diana visiting King Charles III and Queen Elizabeth II for example…

So as the first half of ‘The Crown’ season 6 has everyone glued to Netflix today, NationalWorld takes a look at some of the talking points of this season and determine whether they are historically accurate, have a sense of poetic license behind them and if some of the characters asides from the Royal family are real people.

Episode 1: Persona Non Grata

Camilla, Charles and Princess Margaret at Camilla's 50th birthday (Credit: Netflix)Camilla, Charles and Princess Margaret at Camilla's 50th birthday (Credit: Netflix)
Camilla, Charles and Princess Margaret at Camilla's 50th birthday (Credit: Netflix)

Did Diana visit Tony Blair at Chequers?

She did - in his book, Tony Blair wrote about how Diana and the Princes visited his family at Chequers in July 1997. In his 2010 memoir, Blair recounted that during a stroll through the Chequers grounds, he shared an encounter with Diana. When he inquired about her then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, whom he perceived as a "problem," Blair described their interaction as frosty. Despite never having met Dodi, Blair acknowledged feeling an inexplicable unease about him, even though he couldn't pinpoint what exactly gave him that impression.

Who was the model Mohammed Al Fayed called ‘Madame Bikini’

That would be Kelly Fisher, who apparently was engaged to Dodi Fayed before the tryst between himself and Diana. And, according to the model herself, she was indeed on another yacht while Diana and Dodi were on a yacht ‘specifically’ bought by Mohammed to help his son ‘seduce’ Princess Diana.

Did Diana approach the Paparazzi as she did in the episode?

She did indeed - an interview with former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, author of the 2007 book ‘Diana Chronicles,’ asserted that Diana frequently provided tips to the press and "could not resist offering them the images they desired," including those on the boat. Photographer Daniel Pirrie, who ultimately sold the photograph of the kiss, asserted that Diana personally invited him to capture her moments on vacation with Dodi in France that summer. 

In a 2013 interview with The Daily Mail, he stated, "She informed me that she would be on the yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean. She let me know she was going to be on a tender going out to the yacht. Overall, I believe she was content with all the pictures taken that summer... I was aware that Diana had wanted [the kiss photo] to be taken."

Did the Queen attend Camilla’s 50th birthday in the end?

She did not - however, her treatment regarding Camilla was somewhat different from that in The Crown. While it is painfully obvious that The Queen did not approve of Camilla in the series and did not attend the 50th, which Charles hoped would soften the public’s view of Parker-Bowles, in reality, she warmed to Camilla eventually, going as far as to title her The Queen’s Consort.

Contrary to the episode, Princess Margaret did not attend the gathering, nor did King Charles deliver a toast - that honour went to Queen Camilla’s son instead. 

Episode 2: Two Photographs

Princess Diana during her visit to Serbia as part of her campaigning against land mines (Credit: Netflix)Princess Diana during her visit to Serbia as part of her campaigning against land mines (Credit: Netflix)
Princess Diana during her visit to Serbia as part of her campaigning against land mines (Credit: Netflix)

Is Mario Brenna the real St. Tropez photographer?

Certainly: Brenna, a 40-year-old resident of Monaco, was the photographer behind the iconic pictures of Diana and Dodi Fayed enjoying moments of relaxation and sharing a kiss on Mohamed Al-Fayed's Jonikal yacht near the Sardinian coast in July 1997. Speaking on an Italian talk show, he disclosed that he spent three days discreetly observing the couple, expressing concern about potential encounters with security guards during this period. He admitted that initially, he failed to grasp the significance of that particular shot.

How much were pictures of Princess Diana going for around this time?

That picture of Diana and Dodi fetched an estimated £4.5 million when it was ultimately sold to the media. The current rate for a celebrity photo by an official paparazzi in 2021 was around $75,000 USD, though given the obsession with Diana, that fee is estimated to have easily been around the six-figure number to upwards of a million.

Did Mohammed al-Fayed set up the photo opportunity involving Dodi and Diana?

It’s not known whether Mohamed was instrumental in securing the photo of Dodi and Diana kissing for the first time. However, following the Harrods owner’s death this year, biographer Tom Bower recalled in The Times how Al-Fayed “gleefully” showed him the photographs of Dodi and Diana and allegedly “revealed how he had rapidly bought a yacht suitable for his son’s seduction of her”.

What happened to the yacht that Dodi and Diana spent time on?

The Cujo, the 80ft Baglietto yacht which once housed Diana, Princess of Wales and her flame at the time, Dodi Al-Fayed, sunk 35 miles off the coast of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France after 41 years at sea earlier this year. 

Did Kelly Fisher really launch a legal case against Dodi Fayed?

Indeed she did! Fisher claimed breach of contract and sued for £1.5 million, alleging that Dodi had promised to marry her but broke off their engagement to pursue a relationship with Princess Diana. The case centred around Fisher's assertion that Dodi had given her a sapphire and diamond engagement ring as a symbol of their commitment, and she sought compensation for the emotional distress caused by their separation. 

The legal proceedings were ongoing at the time of Dodi Fayed's tragic death in the car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. After his death, the legal case also faced challenges related to jurisdiction and was eventually dropped.

Episode 3: Dis-Moi-Oui

Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)

Was Dodi inheriting his father’s fortune contingent on marrying Diana?

Negative. In the establishment of Dodi by Mohamed in a sequence of film production companies, all financial decisions were made by the father, with creative ideas falling under the responsibility of producers, screenwriters, and directors. Dodi demonstrated a lack of discipline and business acumen. His inability to persevere was evident even during his time at Harrods, where he withdrew from a training program after just three weeks.

Were Diana and Dodi really chased into a jeweler leading to him buying her a ring?

Paris jeweller Alberto Repossi has previously stated that Dodi and Diana frequented his store in Monte Carlo during their cruises on Jonikal. One of the jewellery pieces that captured Dodi's attention was an extravagant, diamond-encrusted gold ring from the Dis-Moi Oui collection. However, there is no substantiated evidence supporting the depiction in "The Crown" where photographers pursued them through the streets, leading them to seek refuge in the store, nor is there confirmation of Diana making the commented remark, "That's quite nice," while examining the ring.

A coroner's report did show that a ring was bought however with the words “Dis-Moi Oui” - say yes to me - engraved on the ring, though how he came into possession of it is regarded as wholly different from this episode of ‘The Crown.’ 

Did Dodi really propose to Diana while in Paris?

There is no evidence to suggest that Dodi formally proposed, though it's possible he had intentions to do so with the ring he bought. Diana's interactions in the days leading up to their tragic demise indicated no inclination towards marrying Dodi. When questioned separately by her friend Lady Annabel Goldsmith and Lady Annabel's daughter Jemima Khan the day before her death, Diana employed the same phrase to express her lack of seriousness about Dodi: "I need another marriage like a bad rash on my face."

Why was William’s face painted in the blood of the stag he shot?

That would be a tradition known as “blooding.” The practice of "blooding" in royal tradition refers to a historical ritual where a young royal, typically a prince or knight, would participate in their first hunting experience. After successfully killing their first prey, often a deer or boar, the young royal would have its blood smeared on their face or hands. This ritual symbolized the individual's entry into adulthood, as well as their prowess in hunting and warfare. 

The act of being blooded was seen as a rite of passage, showcasing the individual's readiness for the responsibilities that came with their royal or noble status. It was more prevalent in medieval times and has largely faded away in contemporary royal practices.

Episode 4: Aftermath

Dominic West as then Prince Charles in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)Dominic West as then Prince Charles in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)
Dominic West as then Prince Charles in 'The Crown' (Credit: Netflix)

Did Prince William really run away from Balmoral after news of Diana’s death?

The Queen closely monitored the boys, and although William once took an extended walk in the hills, it wasn't a 14-hour absence, nor did it cause any concern within the family. A person close to both princes mentioned that William took on the responsibility of looking after Harry during that time. In later years, William remembered that the Queen had a nuanced understanding of the challenges associated with losing a loved one.

Was it King Charles III who spearheaded Diana’s state funeral?

While it is accurate that the Spencer family initially requested a private funeral, the Queen, after consulting with her advisers, recognized the importance of a royal ceremonial funeral at Westminster Abbey. To influence the Spencer family's decision, she sought the assistance of her private secretary, Robert Fellowes, who successfully persuaded Diana's eldest sister, Jane, to support the idea.

When is part two of 'The Crown' Season 6 on Netflix?

The second part of 'The Crown' Season 6 will arrive on Netflix on December 14 2023 at 8am GMT

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