And so the examination of the accuracy of Netflix’s hit show The Crown begins again with the second episode, “Hide Park Corner.”
As always, SPOILERS abound in this post. Spoilers for later episodes will be marked with further warnings.
Note: I will refer to the Queen as “Princess Elizabeth” when referencing events before she ascended to the throne.
This episode is stuffed full of historical detail, and most of it is quite accurate. I really do applaud the writers of The Crown for just how close to the mark they are.
-The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) really did have to take her ailing father’s place on the Commonwealth Tour. And her father really did brave the cold to see her off, and some say that this contributed to his death, just five days later.
-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip really did stay at a treehouse hotel in Kenya, and she was there when she became Queen. A big game hunter wrote in his log book, “for the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into the tree as a princess and climbed down as a queen.”
-The red government dispatch boxes are real. And Churchill really did dictate from the bathtub — his secretary really did sit just outside the closed door.
-The King was discovered dead in bed by a servant.
-The episode’s title “Hide Park Corner” really was the secret government code to spread word of the King’s death.
-Churchill and Queen Mary were the first people outside of Sandringham House (the estate where the King died) and the royal household staff to be notified.
-Princess Elizabeth really was a mechanic during the war (although I’ve never seen any claims that she had to repair a Jeep in Kenya).
-The new Queen really was difficult to contact, due to the remote nature of Treetops. Word is relayed to Sagana Lodge, and Prince Philip breaks the news to his wife.
-The Queen really was asked what name she would take as Queen.
-The new Queen returned to England immediately after finding out about her father’s passing, as seen in the above video.
-SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES in the article. The Queen really did want to keep the private secretary who had served her before her ascension, but was discouraged from doing so for political reasons.
-Churchill’s speech eulogizing the King is a bit summarized and a few words are changed, but is largely accurate, with direct quotes used in the show.
-SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES in the article. Venetia Scott is a completely fictional character.
-There is no evidence that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip got so very close to charging elephants or that they were ever any danger from the Kenya wildlife. I’m filing this under “false” instead of “unknown,” because it appears to have been made up for the sake of drama on the show.
-The King went shooting the day before he died with his friend Lord Fermoy, not with his doctor. He spent the day playing with Prince Charles and Princess Anne and had dinner with Princess Margaret. There’s no evidence of him singing while she played piano, however.
-There were concerns about Churchill’s age and ability to govern. It is unclear how soon these concerns became widespread within the Conservative Party, however.
-The exact nature of the King’s conversations with his doctors is, of course, unknown. Did the doctor dismiss any concern about the King’s health as being just due to “age” rather than lung cancer, etc? Or was he bluntly honest with his patient about the coughing and any other symptoms? No one knows.
-The exact details of events at Sandringham after the King’s death are unknown. I HIGHLY doubt that Princess Margaret was present of part of the embalming, however.
-Speaking of Princess Margaret, it is also unknown when her relationship with Peter Townsend began. There is no known evidence of them sneaking around at Sandringham at this time, but it did add drama to the episode.
-The letter from Queen Mary to her granddaughter, the new Queen Elizabeth, is likely fictionalized or entirely fabricated.
-Queen Mary’s dramatic curtsy at the end of the episode may or may not have occured.
-Front page news and primary source articles on the King’s death: