The fifth series of The Crown has arrived on Netflix and the historical drama has delved into the lives of a number of fascinating figures from the the 1990s, including former royal valet Sydney Johnson.
Johnson worked as an adviser for The Duke of Windsor Edward VIII after his abdication from the throne and also formed a friendship with Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed.
Mohammed Al-Fayed was the father of Egyptian film producer Dodi Fayed. Dodi was the romantic partner of Princess Diana and the pair died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
But who was the real Sydney Johnson and who plays him in the latest series of The Crown?
Who was Sydney Johnson?
Sydney Johnson was born in 1923 on Andros Island in the Bahamas, which at the time was a British colony.
Johnson first crossed paths with the royal family in 1940 and was appointed to work for The Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII and the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.
At the time Edward and Wallis had been exiled from Britain after abdicating the throne and the former king was appointed as the Governor of the Bahamas.
Johnson impressed whilst working for the royal couple in the Bahamas and was rewarded with a full time job. He later joined the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as a member of staff at Villa Windsor in Paris.
During his time working with the royal couple he formed a close bond with Edward and was eventually promoted to the role of royal valet where he would offer expert advice to both the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Johnson served Edward as his personal valet up until his death in 1972. A year later Johnson’s wife died and he was forced to resign from his role in order to take care of his family.
Who is Mohamed Al-Fayed?
Mohamed Al-Fayed is an Egyptian born businessman born on 27 January 1929.
The 93-year-old’s main business interests have been in the UK since the late 1960s. Fayed is the owner of Hotel Ritz in Paris and is the former owner of Fulham football club and Harrods department store.
During his time as Fulham owner he controversially built a statue of pop legend Michael Jackson. The statue stood outside Craven Cottage from 2011 until 2013, but was later removed by his successor Shahid Khan.
How did Johnson meet Al-Fayed?
Years after working for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Johnson returned to Villa Windsor as an employee of businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed.
Al-Fayed purchased Villa Windsor shortly after the death of Wallis Simpson in 1986 in an attempt to restore it. Johnson appeared at the reopening party in December 1989 and said: “The restoration is so authentic I expect to see the duchess stepping down the staircase.”
When did Johnson die?
Sydney Johnson died in January 1990 around a month after the Windsors’ vill was reopened. Johnson was 69-years-old at the time of his death.
Al-Fayed shared a touching obituary after Johnson’s death and described him as “truly a gentlemen’s gentleman.”
Who plays Sydney Johnson in The Crown?
Sydney Johnson is portrayed in The Crown by Joshua Kekana and Jude Akuwudike.
Kekana portrays a young version of Johnson and features in flashback scenes alongside the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in their early years in Villa Windsor in Paris.
Akuwudike portrays an older version of Johnson and features in scenes alongside Mohamed Al-Fayed as their close friendship is explored.