When Queen Elizabeth II died last month, Netflix’s The Crown halted production out of respect – for a day.
In February, when £150,000 worth of props were stolen, including a replica Fabergé egg bought by the Queen’s grandfather, Netflix refused to postpone production for even a second. You can say what you want about The Crown, but it’s been trying hard to make it to our screens this year.
And it’s in high demand. After the Queen’s death, the series shot straight to the top spot on Netflix’s coveted Top 10 list. Viewership grew by 800% in the UK, according to WhipMedia data obtained by the Guardian.
Season five of The Crown is already sending shockwaves ahead of its November 9 release. It is set to cover the Royal Family’s ugly 90s, including the year the Queen went by as ‘annus horribilis’ (1992). This is seen as an undisputed low point for the reputation of the Royals.
We’re going to see more and more familiar faces – like Diana, Dodi and Charles. But what scandals will The Crown season 5 cover, and which ones will we expect in season 6?
Divorce, divorce, divorce!
God knows how many episodes this season will have to be dedicated solely to the year 1992, because *a lot* happened in 365 days.
For example, Charles and Diana finally threw in the towel when it came to their marriage after years of “trying to make it work.” However, a book published in May 1992, which preceded their separation, made it clear that Charles’ efforts to “try to make it work” were rather limited.
Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story leaked details about Charles and Diana’s relationship, his affair with Camilla, and even used recordings of Diana herself to set the scene.
But the couple stuck together even after the drama of the book’s release — for a few more months at least. In November 1992, Charles and Diana traveled to South Korea for an official trip and looked so downhearted about their public engagements that they were mocked by the press and called “the Glums”. Unsurprisingly, the couple announced their separation a month later.
Toe sucking scandal
This year has also witnessed two other royal splits, and one of them was quite outrageous on its own. Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York’s marriage has failed – due to revealing photos and a ‘toe sucker’ scandal.
In August 1992, after the Duchess of York traveled with her “financial adviser” John Bryan to the south of France, compromising footage taken with a long lens was leaked to the press. The footage showed Fergie topless and kissing Mr Bryan, as well as him kissing and sucking the Duchess’ foot. As a result, Fergie was ousted by the royal family and her relationship with Prince Andrew effectively ended.
Since The Crown has so much to work on in 1992 alone, we don’t know if this scandal will feature in season five. However, we do know that a young Fergie briefly appeared in the final scene of season four and that Emma Laird Craig was cast as the Duchess this season and has already spotted filming on set.
Moving on to our third and final divorce and we have Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, who separated in 1989 but divorced in – you guessed it – 1992. If you thought toe sucking was bad, Princess Anne and Phillips called it quits because he secretly fathered a child with another woman in New Zealand in 1985.
This was confirmed by a DNA test in 1991, after the child’s mother, Heather Tonkin, contacted the press because Phillips had blocked child support payments.
But Anne is said to have had her own wandering eye, for her personal adviser, Commander Timothy Laurence, whom she married the same year she and Mr Phillips divorced. In 2022, we call this “clear signs of overlap”.
Windsor Castle fire
As seen in The Crown season 5 trailer, this season will cover the huge fire that engulfed Windsor Castle in November 1992 (I told you it was a rough year). The fire was started by a searchlight hitting a curtain and grew so large it destroyed 115 of the castle’s rooms and burned for a total of 15 hours, finally being extinguished at 2.30am on 21 November. There were no fatalities, but six minor injuries.
The Queen visited the castle to see the fire raging, as seen in The Crown trailer where Imelda Staunton watches in horror as the flames engulf her home. Well, one of his houses.
The castle was fully repaired in five years, but it cost £36.5 million to do so.
The revenge dress
Speaking of fire, this season of The Crown will feature the most iconic look in British royal history, the Diana Vengeance Dress. We first saw the much-imitated dress in 1994, when Diana attended a Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Images of her getting out of her car and shaking hands with revelers have been seared into everyone’s retinas since that fateful night. She looked so beautiful that the outfit was officially called her “revenge dress”.
Not only was the dress a big deal on its own, but it was also extremely well timed: It was the same night that Charles would admit to his longtime affair in a tell-all TV interview. That means we can get a very fitting edit of Charles admitting his wrongdoings while Diana looks absolutely fabulous in this season of The Crown. For me, I can’t wait.
Dodi Fayed and the death of Diana
In 1997, the year of her death, Diana became involved with billionaire Dodi Fayed. The pair have been confirmed as a romantic couple through a series of paparazzi photos (including these timeless images of Diana gazing wistfully as she sits on the diving board of Fayed’s yacht).
The same month Diana was photographed kissing Dodi on the yacht (August 1997), the couple died in a car accident in Paris. Since Dodi was cast in the fifth season of The Crown and was featured in the trailer, we can assume that Diana’s death will feature in the show. Also, season six of The Crown is set to cover the 2000s, so there’s no possibility that Diana’s death will be postponed.