Princess Diana's 'Panorama' Storyline on 'The Crown' Didn't Get Everything Right, Royal Expert Claims

It's fiction, OK?

cast of 'The Crown' season 5
(Image credit: Photo by Tim Graham / Getty)

Ahead of its release, The Crown season 5 dredged up a whooole lot of drama. Royal insiders appeared very worried about how it would treat a sensitive period in recent royal history, especially with regards to Princess Diana.

Prince William was reportedly displeased that the show had decided to depict his late mother's 1995 Panorama interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir, which is completely understandable. Equally, of course, from the show producers' point of view, leaving this crucial episode out would have been out of the question.

For royal expert Nick Bullen, not only was the depiction of the Panorama interview a sensitive subject to tackle, but The Crown didn't exactly get its facts right. 

"Look, it’s drama. It’s fiction that’s somewhat based on fact," he told Us Weekly.

"Virtually all of it was—certainly—sort of widened the mark. I think they didn’t even go far enough in looking at how Bashir got the interview. I mean, they sort of touched on it, you know, it was incredibly fraudulent what went on there."

Bullen also believes that Diana's reaction in the aftermath of the interview wasn't shown accurately.

"I think in the initial days after [the interview] she really felt she’d got her voice out there," he added.

"She also believed what Bashir had told her about the security services listening to her and what was going on. I think as more clarity set in it became more and more apparent it was a huge mistake."

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana

(Image credit: Netflix)

During the interview, the Princess of Wales opened up about Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, as well as her personal mental health struggles.

"To be fair, what The Crown did get right was the fact that Charles Spencer, her brother, had started to have misgivings about Bashir before the interview and had tried to persuade Diana this perhaps wasn’t the right way to go about it," Bullen added.

"As we all saw in the show, Bashir was recreating bank statements, trying to claim that people were being paid by the security services. And if someone shows you that, you probably do believe it, even if you are not already paranoid about what’s going on. I think she did regret it."

Echoing a sentiment from many other commentators, Bullen warned viewers to take the Netflix drama with a pinch of salt. "What The Crown is very clever at is it does take sort of enough fact to be able to spin up a version of the truth," he said.

"I think people have gotta watch it with an eye to this is drama that is based on real life events. But that’s the danger … is how far the real life events go."

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.