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Paul Burrell gives his take on what's fact and fiction in The Crown season four

Princess Diana's former butler says much of what's on screen is accurate.

The Crown- Thatcher and the Queen
Published: Tuesday, 1st December 2020 at 12:45 am

Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell has given his insight into which scenes in The Crown season four are accurate and which never happened.


Mrs Thatcher and the Queen, for example, had a cordial relationship, he says.

Season four of the global hit series about the inner workings of the modern Royal family has caused endless debate about the truthfulness of certain scenes, which culminated in the Culture secretary Oliver Dowden requesting a "fiction" warning be added to the beginning of each episode.

Burrell was Princess Diana's butler from 1987 until her death in 1997 and he has explained to The Sun what he believed was fact and fiction in the new season of The Crown.

Was Prince Charles as cold to Diana as portrayed?

“Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles as a rather uncaring, cold person," said Burrell. "And I’m afraid that’s what I saw behind closed doors. He was married to probably the most beautiful woman in the world. But he didn’t look after her, and that’s what comes across in The Crown.

“Diana said to me, ‘I thought when I got married that my husband would be there for me, to care for me, to support me, to encourage me, but he isn’t’.

“People that jump up and say, ‘Well, that’s not factual’, well, that’s pretty close to the truth. You’re seeing an unknown young girl rise while Charles’s star doesn’t and her popularity becomes greater than his. And that’s the whole problem."

Did the Queen Mother dislike Diana?

“They didn’t have a very close relationship," he said. "I heard her say Diana is, ‘such a silly girl, doesn’t she realise, men have affairs’. That’s pretty telling, that it’s accepted and that’s what happens and you just put up with it. They got it right in The Crown.”

Was the Queen alone when Michael Fagan broke into her bedroom?

“Prince Philip wasn’t there that night. She was on her own.”

He added: “The Queen told me she was fast asleep, as depicted in The Crown, and someone came into the room. She said, ‘I thought at first it was Peggy coming to wake me but then, no noise, and I felt someone sitting on my bed. I switched on my bedside light. And there’s a man’. “She said he was clutching a broken ashtray and he was bleeding on her bed sheets. “She said, ‘He wanted to talk about his wife — as if I could help!’?”

How bad was Diana's bulimia?

“She started being ill just before she was married. She told me all of this. She said she was even sick on her wedding night... It is very upsetting for me to watch, it must be upsetting for the public, too. She suffered so long with it. The Crown depicts it, but only in small scenes. It doesn’t run a thread all through the 10 episodes.

“But it was there throughout the princess’ life. I was there. I did help her. She wasn’t given any support from the inside. The Crown portrayed that she couldn’t find help. And that’s fair.”

Did the Queen dislike Prime Minister Thatcher?

Burrell claimed their relationship was far warmer than the way it's portrayed in The Crown.

He explained: “I was on duty [the night of their first audience] and the Queen was reading briefing books in a sitting room just before the audience. She said, ‘what colour is the Prime Minister wearing?’ Because she’d already arrived. I said, ‘She’s wearing blue your majesty’. ‘Oh dear’, she said, ‘I’m wearing blue, I better go change’. So she went to change to all red.”

The Crown seasons 1-4 are available now on Netflix.


Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.


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