8 major historical events covered in season 5 of 'The Crown' and the real stories behind them

8 major historical events covered in season 5 of 'The Crown' and the real stories behind them
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in "The Crown" season five; Princess Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir in November 1995.

  • The fifth season of "The Crown" covered eight events that took place in the 1990s. 
  • The season opens with Charles and Diana's trip to Italy, dubbed their "second honeymoon."
  • We also see dramatizations of Princess Diana's bombshell interview with Martin Bashir and her divorce from Charles.
The fifth season of "The Crown" opens with Charles and Diana's trip to Italy, dubbed the couple's "second honeymoon."

prince charles and princess diana in the crown and in italy 1985
A scene from "The Crown"; Prince Charles and Princess Diana visit Apulia in Italy in April 1985.

In 1991, Charles, Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry traveled throughout Italy aboard the Alexandra Yacht. Paparazzi photos from the real-life tour showed the royal couple and their two children swimming off of the yacht and smiling for photographs.

In "The Crown," the couple refers to the trip as their "second honeymoon," despite a major argument. However, in real life, it was only referred to as such by the press. It was one of Charles and Diana's final trips before they announced their separation in 1992, according to Vanity Fair. Charles and Diana eventually divorced in 1996, one year before Diana died in a car accident. 

The entire fourth episode is dedicated to "Annus horribilis," which references the Windsor Castle fire and the breakdown of three royal marriages.

Imelda Staunton as the Queen in Netflix's "The Crown" and Queen Elizabeth II delivering a speech at Guildhall London, England November 1992.
Imelda Staunton as the Queen in Netflix's "The Crown" and Queen Elizabeth II delivering a speech at Guildhall London, England November 1992.

The fourth episode of "The Crown" shows the Queen's famous "annus horribilis" speech, a Latin phrase that translates to "horrible year." The Queen delivered her 1992 speech at Guildhall in London, England, during her Ruby Jubilee celebration, which marked her 40th year on the throne.

However, the celebration closely followed the Windsor Castle fire, which occurred four days prior. On November 20, 1992, a fire broke out at Windsor Castle, the royal family's largest and oldest residence, causing £36.5 million in damage. Thankfully, many of the residence's priceless pieces of furniture and artwork were saved.

1992 was also a disastrous year for the personal lives of many members of the royal family.

The Queen's second son Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his wife, Sarah Ferguson, announced that they were officially separating on March 19, 1992, two months after an affair between Ferguson and Texan oil millionaire Steve Wyatt was made public in the tabloids.

On April 23, 1992, Princess Anne finalized her divorce from her husband, Captain Mark Phillips, three years after the couple had separated. 

Princess Diana and Charles' relationship appeared to crumble in December 1992, a mere month after an intimate phone transcript between Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was released to the public, as chronicled in episode five of "The Crown."

Prime Minister John Major confirmed that the then-Prince and Princess of Wales had formally separated from one another.

In 1993, details about Charles' affair with Camilla were leaked to the public in a scandal dubbed "Camillagate" or "Tampongate." This was dramatized in episode five.

Dominic West as King Charles in "The Crown."
Dominic West as Prince Charles in season five of "The Crown" and real-life King Charles.

As Tausi Insider previously reported, an "intimate transcript of a 1989 phone call" between Charles and Camilla was released to the public by The Sunday Mirror in January 1993. The call was scandalous and sexual in nature, with Charles reportedly joking he would like to be transformed into a pair of Parker Bowles' "knickers" or her tampon.

"I'll just live inside your trousers or something," he said. "It would be much easier."

"I remember thinking it was something so sordid and deeply, deeply embarrassing [at the time]," Dominic West, who plays Prince Charles in the fifth season of "The Crown," told Entertainment Weekly of his own memory of the scandal. 

Prince Charles' interview with journalist Jonathan Dimbleby and Diana's revenge dress were also both key moments in episode five.

elizabeth debicki in the crown and princess diana wearing the revenge dress
The latest season of "The Crown" recreates the iconic "revenge dress" and other outfits worn by Diana in the 1990s.

In June 1994, Charles admitted to having an affair with Camilla during an interview with documentary filmmaker Jonathan Dimbleby.

Though the documentary was initially intended to improve public opinion of the prince, he ended up admitting to his infidelity, saying he was "faithful and honorable" to Diana during their marriage "until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried." 

Dimbleby's biography of the prince, "The Prince of Wales: A Biography," later confirmed that Camilla was the woman involved with Charles during his marriage to Diana.

The same night the documentary was released, Diana attended a Vanity Fair party wearing what would be called the "revenge dress" — a form-fitting, off-the-shoulder LBD by designer Christina Stambolian.

Both events were covered in "The Crown," including Elizabeth Debicki wearing a nearly identical reproduction of the iconic "revenge dress."

Diana's controversial tell-all interview with Martin Bashir was recreated in episode eight.

elizabeth debicki in the crown and princess diana during the martin bashir interview
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in "The Crown" season five; Princess Diana during her interview with Martin Bashir in November 1995.

"The Crown" went to great lengths to perfectly mirror Princess Diana's bombshell interview with Martin Bashir, right down to the outfit Princess Diana wore during the 1995 BBC1 "Panorama" interview.

It was during this interview that Diana famously admitted to knowing about Charles' relationship with Camilla, saying, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

The interview went into other details of the marriage, her relationship with the royal family and press, as well as her struggle with bulimia. She also admitted to an affair with her riding instructor.

Following the interview, Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, alleged Bashir showed Diana fake documents to persuade her to take part in the interview.

 The BBC apologized in May 2021 after an inquiry found "deceitful" tactics had been used to secure the interview, and Bashir resigned from his role as the BBC's religion editor.

Charles and Diana's divorce was finalized in the ninth episode, and even included a replica of the couple's actual divorce papers.

A replica of the final divorce papers of Prince Charles and his former wife Princess Diana as shown in "The Crown" and the real divorce papers dated August 28, 1996
A replica of the final divorce papers of Prince Charles and his former wife Princess Diana as shown in "The Crown" and the actual divorce papers dated August 28, 1996.

In the episode, the Queen writes to Charles and Diana advising them to divorce. A scene later shows a judge, surrounded by members of the press, officially granting a divorce to "couple 31" — His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.

The dramatic scene also features a brief shot of the royal couple's finalized divorce papers, which are a near-exact recreation of Charles and Diana's actual divorce papers. 

In real life, Diana received a generous divorce settlement, the right to continue using her title of Princess of Wales, and retained her apartments at Kensington Palace. However, the "people's princess" had to relinquish the title of Her Royal Highness and any future claims to the British throne.

In the season finale, Tony Blair of the Labour Party wins the 1997 United Kingdom general election in a landslide.

The Crown
Bertie Carvel playing Tony Blair in "The Crown" and Blair himself in 1994.

The election of Prime Minister Tony Blair, played by Bertie Carvel in "The Crown," sets the scene for the following season and ushers in a new era in British politics and a change in the dynamics of the royal family.

The real-life election saw a major shift toward the Labour Party, which managed to secure 418 seats while the Conservatives gained 165. This was a dramatic turn away from the politics set forth by Margaret Thatcher in season four and John Major in the majority of season five.

In the series finale, Charles also admits that, like their beloved yacht Britannia and the present political climate, the family itself may need its own "renovation" and that the public would likely rather see him remarry with Camilla than remain unmarried. 

Also shown in the finale is the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

netflix the crown britannia decommissioning
A scene from "The Crown" season five; the Queen sheds a tear at the Britannia decommissioning ceremony in 1997.

In the tenth episode, newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair decides the cost to repair and refurbish Britannia, as well as the operation cost of £11 million ($23 million today) each year, is too expensive and should not fall upon taxpayers. He proposes a plan for the royal family to privately finance the repairs, which the Queen rejects.

One of the closing scenes of the episode shows the Queen returning to her beloved ship to say an emotional final goodbye. In the show, she is alone.

The real-life decommissioning of Britannia was just as emotional for the Queen. At the official decommissioning ceremony in 1997, the Queen shed a rare public tear, flanked by her husband Prince Philip and her son then-Prince Charles.

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