Netflix’s The Crown: 8 Plot Twists That Have Nothing to Do With Reality

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For a fan of historical accuracy, there are plenty of reasons to feel dissatisfied with the Netflix drama series.

The Crown's screenwriter Peter Morgan often departs from the historical truth and changes the chronology of events for the sake of greater drama. This has been noted more than once by royal biographers Sally Bedell Smith and Hugo Vickers.

1. George's Illness

The inaccuracies began from the very first episodes of season one, when young Elizabeth was still a princess and her dearest father George VI, who passed away due to lung cancer, was on the throne. In The Crown, the monarch has been coughing up blood since the beginning of the action, that is, since 1947, while the disease was not actually diagnosed until 1951, the year before his death.

2. Sympathy for the Devil

The title of The Rolling Stones' song serves as a one-line portrayal of King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne for a mésalliance with the divorced American Wallis Simpson and expressed sympathy toward Nazism and its leader, Adolf Hitler. The Crown doesn't gloss over the topic but takes a few liberties too. Perhaps for the sake of dramatization, after the end of war, the on-screen Edward explains that his sympathies were merely a diplomatic game. In reality, however, he was known to have called Hitler "not such a bad chap."

3. Mentally Ill Cousins

Another dubious storyline is the one involving Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, the Queen's mentally ill cousins hidden from public view in an asylum. When in season four, Princess Margaret learns about the "inferior" cousins, she gets indignant over the cynicism of her family who abandoned them. In reality, however, nothing is known about Margaret's investigation of the cousins, and it's unlikely that she ever visited them. By the way, there was a documentary released back in 1987 exploring the cousins' fate.

4. The Balmoral Test

There is no historical confirmation of the so-called Balmoral Test, shown in the series as a sort of royal initiation at the Queen's favorite Scottish residence. According to the show, this is where Elizabeth invited new prime ministers and other people who were not part of the narrow family circle. At Balmoral, they were subjected to a very cold reception, burdened by all kinds of strict formalities.

5. Charles and Camilla's Relationship

The relationship between Charles, now King Charles I, and his longtime mistress and later wife Camilla Parker Bowles is perhaps the most scandalous chapter in the history of the Windsors. Once again, the Netflix portrayal of their romance contains some inaccuracies and speculation. In the show, the couple never stopped their relationship even during the marriage of Charles and Princess Diana. But according to Sally Bedell Smith, Charles and Camilla did break up before his wedding and did not meet again until 1986.

6. Royal conspiracy

Before Charles and Diana, the main source of rumors about the family was Princess Margaret, the queen's younger sister, whose personal life was full of tumultuous affairs. The first of these happened with the Royal Air Force officer Peter Townsend in season one of the show. In the series, Margaret is determined to marry him, while Elizabeth threatens to strip her sister of her title if she proceeds with the marriage. But this doesn't seem to comply with the historical truth, and Margaret and Townsend's breakup probably occurred for more mundane reasons.

7. Wrongful Accusations

The screen version of Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, suffered a fair bit of speculative character enhancement. His storyline features an unconfirmed affair with a ballerina, and the prince is claimed guilty over the death of his sister in a plane crash.

8. Eugenie's Grandmother

Despite all the exaggeration and speculation meant to increase the series' dramatic effect, there is evidence that Queen Elizabeth watched The Crown and was happy with it. Actress Vanessa Kirby, who played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons, referred to a friend who overheard a woman at a party saying that her granny "kind of likes" the show. It turned out that the woman was Princess Eugenie, Elizabeth II's granddaughter, which makes her kind of a reliable source!