November 18, 2019 12:20:36
Have you just started watching the latest season of The Crown or already binge-watched it?
Having taken the biggest leap yet across time to cover the 13 years between 1964 and 1977, you might have already noticed there are quite a few historical events covered in the latest season.
Along with the time jump, the latest season has also brought us different actors in the main roles including Olivia Colman and Outlander actor Tobias Menzies as the ruling couple.
While the multi-million-dollar Netflix series The Crown has dramatised what might have happened behind closed doors, the Queen’s public appearances in historical moments are usually recreated with impeccable accuracy.
So what has been dramatised and what actually happened? We’ve done the legwork, looking at the big moments and how they really played out at the time.
The Soviet spy
The season starts with the unfolding of arguably the biggest spy scandal of the 20th century.
Anthony Blunt was a well-respected art historian and in charge of the Queen’s personal collection — he was knighted in 1956 for his work in the role.
But that all came crashing down when he confessed to MI5 to being a member of the infamous Cambridge Five spy ring, who passed information to the Soviets during World War II and the early stages of the Cold War.
Blunt, played by Samuel West, was granted immunity in exchange for information and his treachery was kept a state secret until 1979 when he was outed by then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
He was stripped of his knighthood and publicly disgraced before dying of a heart attack in 1983.
Blunt’s memoirs were released by the British Library in 2009 and while they revealed little about his espionage work, he described being a Soviet spy as “the biggest mistake” of his life.
The Aberfan disaster
Another big historical event is covered in the third episode, which focuses on the Queen’s sombre visit to the small Welsh mining town of Aberfan (pronounced Aber-van) as it was coming to grips with a devastating tragedy.
On the morning of Friday, October 21, 1966, a pile of coal waste dumped on a hill above the village turned to slurry after several days of heavy rain.
A black tidal wave slid down into the valley, crushing more than a dozen houses and flooding the local primary school.
In all, 144 people died — 116 of whom were children, most of them aged between seven and 10.
During her visit nine days after the event, the Queen promised never to forget them. She has returned to Aberfan on several occasions, most recently in 2012.
“I well remember my own visit with Prince Philip after the disaster, and the posy I was given by a young girl, which bore the heart-breaking inscription, ‘From the remaining children of Aberfan’,” the Queen said on the 50th anniversary of the disaster.
Charles and Camilla
This season also sees Charles, played by Josh O’Connor, being formally acknowledged as the Prince of Wales at his investiture at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969.
Another big focus is his relationship with Camilla Shand. The pair met in the early ’70s and by all accounts were very much in love.
But you already know how this one ends.
In real life, things came to a sudden end in early 1973, and Camilla went on to marry Andrew Parker Bowles that July — not long after he had been courting Charles’ sister Princess Anne.
Exactly what led to their break-up has been widely speculated ever since.
Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn
Love has never run smoothly for Princess Margaret in The Crown and season three is no different for the younger royal sister, who is now played by Helena Bonham Carter.
Margaret’s marriage to Lord Snowdon was strained by the early ’70s and the pair had numerous affairs, the most public of the period being the Princess’s eight-year relationship with gardener Roddy Llewellyn.
In 1976, a tabloid newspaper published photographs of Llewellyn, who was 17 years younger than Margaret, swimming with the Royal on holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Margaret and Snowdon divorced in 1978, paving the way for other Royals to do so in the future, including her nephew Charles.
At the world premiere of the season, Bonham Carter said the hardest thing about playing Margaret was so many people feel they know her and have an opinion about her.
“There were so many really close friends that were all too happy to talk about her and wanted to, and really loved her and also wanted to show the side that was less known about her — that she was funny, that she was full of warmth and that she was very multicoloured,” Bonham Carter said.
Duke of Windsor’s final days
The Duke of Windsor, played by Derek Jacobi, was known to hold great disdain for his family for not embracing his relationship with Wallis Simpson, a divorcee (now played by Geraldine Chaplin).
In his final days, the Queen was due to see her uncle, the Duke, as she visited his home-in-exile France during a state visit with Prince Philip and Prince Charles in 1972.
However, the Duke was too ill to have tea with the Queen and they instead had a 15-minute private conversation at his Paris apartment. He died 10 days later from throat cancer.
Elizabeth attended his funeral and was seen speaking with Simpson after the ceremony.
Winston Churchill’s funeral
Winston Churchill’s death in January 1965 is a notable moment in history but also a rare occasion where the Queen broke protocol to farewell her first prime minister.
Churchill was the first politician to be given a state funeral in the 20th century.
The Queen waived her right to be the last to enter St Paul’s, instead choosing to enter before the coffin and Churchill’s family. She also allowed them to leave the church first.
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Labour leader Harold Wilson, played by Jason Watkins, won the 1964 election with a narrow majority and was in and out of 10 Downing Street until his shock resignation in 1976.
During his first stint as prime minister, Wilson’s government devalued the pound, sent troops into Northern Ireland, abolished the death penalty and oversaw deteriorating relations with trade unions.
Wilson lost the 1970 election to Conservative Party leader Edward Heath, who led Britain in 1973 into the European Community — now know as the European Union.
After his re-election in 1974, Wilson spent two more years in government, making him Labour’s longest-serving prime minister until the record was broken by Tony Blair in 2005.
The Queen is reported to have had a good relationship with Wilson, and made a rare visit to Downing Street to attend his farewell dinner. She also attended Churchill’s farewell dinner in 1955.
UK miners’ strike
In 1972 British miners held their first official strike since 1926, with 280,000 workers walking off the job to demand an extra 9 British pounds a week on top of their 25-pound weekly wage.
As mining production shut down across the country, homes and businesses lost power, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency on February 9 and introduce a three-day working week to reduce electricity consumption.
A deal was reached on February 19, and while it was less than what the miners’ were claiming, they became among the highest-paid blue-collar workers.
Two years later the miners, led by unionist Arthur Scargill, held another strike that brought about another emergency.
The prime minister, Mr Heath, called a snap election to end the strikes but lost to Labor’s Mr Wilson.
The unrest continued well into the next decade, with strikes in March 1984 and 1985 marking Britain’s biggest industrial dispute since World War II.
Season three ended with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, celebrating her 25 years on the throne (even though it was held 24 years after her coronation).
Millions took to the streets of London on June 7, 1977, as the Queen made her way to St Paul’s in the golden state coach.
On the same day, punk band the Sex Pistols sailed down the Thames playing their banned song God Save The Queen.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
The Queen has since celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002 (50 years) and her Diamond Jubilee (60 years).
The next celebration, the Platinum Jubilee, is due to be held in 2022 to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
When will we see Diana?
Actress Emma Corrin has been cast in the role, and she’ll appear next season. Charles and Diana met in 1977.
If you’re a history buff, you might have already noticed there is one big event missing in this latest season.
In 1974, Princess Anne evaded an attempted kidnapping by Ian Ball, who planned to hold the 23-year-old Royal for a large ransom, which he wanted to donate to the National Health Services (NHS).
Anne’s bodyguard, a policeman, a chauffeur and a passing motorist were shot as they tried to protect the Princess, who was not physically harmed during the assault.
Bell was captured by police and later pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping, and ordered to serve out his sentence at a mental health facility.
Why does the Queen have brown eyes?
It’s because the actress, who replaced the blue-eyed Claire Foy, has brown eyes.
Director Ben Caron told The Guardian that Colman was fitted with blue contact lenses but it made it seem like she was “acting behind a mask”.
An attempt was also made to change the colour in post-production but that too was rejected.
November 15, 2019 05:48:35
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe