‘The Crown’ Season 4 fact check: A historian on the Queen


Nothing gets Anglophiles googling harder than a new season of “The Crown.” Netflix’s fictionalized series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) released a new season Sunday that tackled the monarchy in the 1980s, meaning Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) play prominent roles. And while the series is edging closer to the modern era, there are plenty of historical events, royal family dramas and fashion statements that American viewers may be unfamiliar with.

To sort out fact from fluff, USA TODAY spoke with Sally Bedell Smith, author of biographies “Elizabeth the Queen,” “Prince Charles,” and “Diana In Search of Herself.” The historian – who consulted on “The Crown” creator Peter Morgan’s royals-themed stage play “The Audience” – explains what happened with Charles, Diana and Camilla, whether the Queen had a favorite child and more.

Sally Bedell Smith: Charles and Camilla parted company at the end of December 1972. (They) didn’t resume their love affair until late 1978. They seldom saw each other but spoke frequently on the phone. When Charles and Diana began dating, he introduced her to his social circle, including (Camilla and her husband).