Shockingly, There Was Even More Royal Family Drama in the 1990s Than "The Crown" Season Five Captures

Here’s what didn’t make the cut.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty)

For as much drama is packed into season five of Netflix’s The Crown—Camillagate! Annus horribilis! Panorama and Martin Bashir! Andrew Morton’s book!—somehow, the turbulent 1990s in the royal family were so dramatic that there was actually real-life drama left not captured in the 10-episode season.

Perhaps most strikingly to this writer, the character of Prince Harry was barely seen in season five (extremely briefly in episode one, a photo of him mid-season, and that’s about it) despite the character of Prince William receiving ample airtime. Yes, William is just over two years older than his younger brother, but Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s sons were frequently a package deal during the decade. (It has to be mentioned, though who knows if it has anything at all to do with it, that Harry and wife Meghan Markle did ink a multimillion-dollar deal in 2020 with Netflix.) Food for thought.

We saw the Camillagate (or Tampongate—whatever you want to call it) phone hacking scandal play out this season, but Diana actually had a phone hacking scandal of her own in 1992—Squidgygate, which was a telephone conversation between Diana and her close friend, James Gilbey. The New York Post reports that The Sun published an article in 1992 revealing the transcripts of the intimate talk—Gilbey calls Diana by the pet name “Squidgy”—which lasted 23 minutes. In the conversation, Diana compared her marriage to that of a character in the popular British soap opera EastEnders, brought up concerns she might be pregnant, and talked about her deteriorating marriage to husband Charles. Squidgygate actually preceded Camillagate, which happened in 1993.

Also skipped? Charles and Diana’s February 1992 tour of India that famously produced those photos of Diana sitting alone in front of the Taj Mahal—a monument built to represent a husband’s love—without Charles, who had another meeting at the time. (Of course, also a totally not subtle reflection of the Wales’ marriage at the time—they’d separate by the end of the year.) “She looked sad, and she knew which way the story would go,” says Anwar Hussein, who photographed the princess, to People. “She was very clever.” The image of a solitary and contemplative Diana sitting alone in front of a monument to love is especially jarring juxtaposed against an image of her son, Prince William, and wife Kate Middleton sitting in the same spot together in 2016, 24 years later.

The season picks up in 1991 and ends in July 1997, so we also missed out on Diana undertaking numerous amounts of charitable engagements, including the iconic tour of an Angolan minefield in January 1997, wearing a ballistic helmet and a flak jacket. (Her younger son, Prince Harry, also recreated this image of his mother, taking the same walk himself in 2019, 22 years later.)

The relationship between Diana and heart surgeon Hasnat Khan is profiled in the season, but not the depth of their 1997 breakup, which gutted the late Princess of Wales and ultimately led to where season five ends—Diana agreeing to join Mohamed Al-Fayed on his yacht for a summer holiday, which ultimately kickstarted a string of events that would lead to the deaths of both Diana and Al-Fayed’s son, Dodi, in a car crash in Paris by the end of the ill-fated summer. And, speaking of Diana’s romantic relationships, The Crown addresses mightily Charles and Camilla’s affair, but barely if at all mentions Diana’s own affairs, of which there were a handful.

Also of note, in 1991, eight-year-old William was hit by a golf club while at boarding school, causing him a severe head injury that required a two-day hospital stay, E! News reports. Diana stayed at a private room at the hospital, not leaving her son’s side; meanwhile, Charles drew negative press—including headlines like “What Kind of Dad Are You?”—after he only stayed at the hospital for a reported 42 minutes.

Also skipped from the 1990s—though their romance is mentioned, we don’t see Princess Anne and Sir Timothy Laurence’s tiny wedding in Scotland in December 1992 (just 30 people were there); a prank call played on the Queen in October 1995 by a Canadian radio station (E! News reports that the monarch spent a full seven minutes on the phone with radio DJ Pierre Brassard, who was posing as Canada’s then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien) where she discussed, among other bits, the royal family’s Halloween plans; and Charles and Diana’s disastrous final royal tour together to South Korea, in which a journalist on the tour said there was a palpable “hatred that radiated” between the Prince and Princess of Wales. The tour proved terrible enough to lead to the couple’s separation soon after (and is pictured above).

The 1990s—not the calmest of waters for our beloved royal family.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.