The fifth season of The Crown is now available in full on Netflix, and viewers who have already seen the first episode will have witnessed the particularly tense trip Charles and Diana take to Italy.


The royal couple are played in the show's fifth season by Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki, and during the trip seen in the first episode a major row breaks out between the couple, despite it having been dubbed their 'second honeymoon'.

But did the couple really go on a 'second honeymoon' to Italy just a year before their separation? And what really happened while they were there?

Read on for everything you need to know about Charles and Diana's Italy trip in 1991, how it's presented in The Crown and what really happened.

What happens in The Crown season 5 episode 1?

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown.
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown. Netflix

The first episode of The Crown season 5, called Queen Victoria Syndrome, sees Charles and Diana heading off on a trip to Italy.

During this time, Charles is presented as being distracted by his own polling popularity in comparison with the Queen. His team therefore brief out to newspapers that the trip is a 'second honeymoon' for Charles and Diana, given that a large part of his popularity comes from the prospect of Diana becoming the new Queen.

However, Charles then also invites his second cousin and friend Norton Knatchbull, AKA Lord Romsey, and his wife Penny to join them on the trip, along with their children. Their daughter Leonora had been suffering from kidney cancer, which at the time was in remission.

They all board a boat in Italy, along with Princes William and Harry, whereupon Charles proposes they chart a course from Naples to Ischia, then to Capri, down the Amalfi coast, to Sicily, and finally stopping at Olbia on Sardinia.

While on the boat, Charles admits to Norton that while their marriage seems perfect on the outside, it remains as gloomy as ever when he and Diana are in private.

Charles is then informed that The Sunday Times is running a piece saying the Queen should abdicate in favour of Charles, claiming she is suffering from Queen Victoria Syndrome, meaning she has been on the throne too long and grown out of touch. Charles asks for a meeting to be arranged with Prime Minister John Major as soon as they are back.

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Diana is then informed that their trip is being cut short, as Charles has to attend a speaking engagement at the University of Oxford - a diary clash he claims is "through no fault" of his own. A heated argument ensues between the couple.

They take a speed boat near to shore and are photographed by the media - and observed by Andrew Morton, who later wrote a biography of Diana. They then return home, whereupon Charles meets with Major to discuss The Sunday Times' piece and his own thoughts regarding the monarchy.

What really happened on Charles and Diana's trip?

Prince Charles and Princess Diana in Seville in 1992
Prince Charles and Princess Diana in Seville. Tim Graham/Getty Images

Charles and Diana did go on a trip to Italy in August 1991, which was dubbed by the press to be their 'second honeymoon'. Whether this was truly at the briefing of Charles's team in order to shore up support for him and convince the world of their marriage's strength is unknown. The trip took place on Charles's Alexander yacht.

Of course, most of what actually happened on the trip remains unknown. It was, after all, a private holiday for the couple, and therefore the conversations and interactions scripted for the Netflix series have been made up.

It is known that Diana was unhappy during this period, and it has been speculated to have been a "breaking point" for the couple ahead of their separation in 1992.

It was also reported that the Knatchbulls, also known as the Romseys, were on the trip with them.

The Scottish Herald reportedly wrote following the tragic death of Leonora Knatchbull: "Little more than two months ago, Leonora and her 10-year-old brother Nicholas, sister Alexandra, eight, and their parents joined the Prince and Princess of Wales on their summer Mediterranean cruise.

"They set off with high hopes after an improvement in her condition, but she became unwell again when the family returned to Broadlands, the Romsey estate in Hampshire."

There were also headlines in 1991 that asked whether the Queen should abdicate. The Mirror ran a story asking "Is It Time For Her To Hang Up Her Crown?" while the Express asked "With Prince Charles waiting in the wings, is it time for her to step down and enjoy a happy and glorious retirement?"

However, one major change to real events is the inclusion of Andrew Morton, who is seen to first sense the couple's marital woes while on this trip. In truth, Morton had already spoken with Diana for the biography before the couple embarked on their holiday.

There is also the matter of Charles setting up a meeting with Prime Minister John Major to discuss the future of the monarchy in the series, something which Major has denounced, saying: "There was never any discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about any possible abdication of the late Queen Elizabeth II – nor was such an improbable and improper subject ever raised by the then Prince of Wales (or Sir John)."

Diana's attire for the start of the trip also appears to have been influenced by a different trip entirely. It is similar to an outfit she wore while in Seville in 1992.

The Crown season 5 will be released on Netflix on November 9th 2022 and you can watch seasons 1-4 right now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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