PAUL Burrell had a front seat to history as Princess Diana’s butler and today he tells The Sun how much TV’s The Crown has got right – and wrong.
Paul, 62, her self-proclaimed “Rock” was at the centre of many of the storylines portrayed in series four of the Netflix show, including the tempestuous marriage of Prince Charles to Diana and the fierce dynamic between The Queen and Margaret Thatcher.
The series has been a runaway success, though critics are calling on Netflix to attach a “fiction” warning.
Here, Paul picks out the show’s crowning glories from the right royal nonsense . . .
Prince Charles was cruel to Diana – FACT
DAMNING scenes show Prince Charles looking uninterested when Diana dances on stage, indifferent towards his sons and implicated in an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
But despite controversy over “artistic license”, Paul says the drama paints an accurate picture of their increasingly frosty relationship.
Recalling his years in the young couple’s household, the former butler reveals: “Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles as a rather uncaring, cold person. And I’m afraid that’s what I saw behind closed doors.
“He was married to probably the most beautiful woman in the world. But he didn’t look after her, and that’s what comes across in The Crown.
“Diana said to me, ‘I thought when I got married that my husband would be there for me, to care for me, to support me, to encourage me, but he isn’t’.
“People that jump up and say, ‘Well, that’s not factual’, well, that’s pretty close to the truth.
“You’re seeing an unknown young girl rise while Charles’s star doesn’t and her popularity becomes greater than his. And that’s the whole problem.
“Their popularity in Australia, for example, how she eclipsed him and how he didn’t like it is all true.”
Paul believes producers “could have gone further”.
He says: “I would have put in another scene with Prince Charles telling Diana when she comes downstairs wearing a beautiful black and white dress, just to please him, and he said to her ‘You look like you belong to the mafia’.”
Fact or fiction
THE Crown’s depiction of the Queen Mother not liking Diana is CORRECT, says Paul.
He said: “They didn’t have a very close relationship. I heard her say Diana is, ‘such a silly girl, doesn’t she realise, men have affairs’. That’s pretty telling, that it’s accepted and that’s what happens and you just put up with it. They got it right in The Crown.”
Queen was alone for break-in – FACT
THE Queen was alone when she awoke to find Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan in her bedroom.
Paul said: “Prince Philip wasn’t there that night. She was on her own.”
But The Crown’s portrayal of the event is littered with inaccuracies, says Paul, from her bedroom decor to the chat she had with Fagan.
He said “The Queen told me she was fast asleep, as depicted in The Crown, and someone came into the room. She said, ‘I thought at first it was Peggy coming to wake me but then, no noise, and I felt someone sitting on my bed. I switched on my bedside light. And there’s a man’.
“She said he was clutching a broken ashtray and he was bleeding on her bed sheets.
“She said, ‘He wanted to talk about his wife — as if I could help!’ ”
Paul says the dramatisation had other mistakes.
“The Queen’s bedroom is not red and grand like they portrayed. It’s very humble with only a bed, two bedside tables and no flowers in it.”
Plus the Queen uses bottled water, not tap water, to clean her teeth, he added.
Fact or fiction
CONTRARY to The Crown’s version, Diana did NOT choose her engagement ring.
Paul says: “I was there. The Queen chose it with Prince Charles.
“She asked to see The Crown Jeweller. He came with a case with every stone you could imagine.
“Prince Charles came down from his suite at Buckingham Palace, and between them they chose that ring and Diana was presented with it.”
Diana’s devastating bulimia battle – FACT
WHILE disturbing scenes show a glimpse of Diana’s bulimia, the princess’s battle with the nervous disorder was lengthy, reveals Paul.
He reveals: “She started being ill just before she was married. She told me all of this. She said she was even sick on her wedding night.
“It is very upsetting for me to watch, it must be upsetting for the public, too. She suffered so long with it. The Crown depicts it, but only in small scenes. It doesn’t run a thread all through the ten episodes.
“But it was there throughout the Princess’s life. I was there. I did help her.
“She wasn’t given any support from the inside.
“The Crown portrayed that she couldn’t find help. And that’s fair.”
Queen and Prince Philip in separate beds – FALSE
THE Queen’s staid and stuffy relationship with Prince Philip is also fiction.
Paul says: “They’ve given Prince Philip and The Queen a very cold relationship and it’s not. They are not cold to each other.”
The Crown’s depiction of the couple sleeping alone is also absurd. Paul says: “They both have a suite of rooms. But there is a joint bedroom in the middle and that is the bedroom they use.
“So to think the Queen is all alone, all the time in this cold, unfeeling relationship is absolutely not true. Prince Philip adores the Queen.”
The frumpy granny nighties The Crown’s Queen wears are another inaccuracy.
Paul says: “She’s an elegantly dressed woman who wore pink, flowing silk to bed.”
Fact or fiction
THE TV series CORRECTLY showed that the royals have nicknames for each other.
Paul confirms Prince Charles and Camilla did call each other Fred and Gladys. “And I did hear Princess Anne call Prince Charles Eeyore once, because of ‘that’ [his protruding ears].”
But the show omitted Prince Charles’s nickname for The Queen, which is “Cabbage”.
Her Majesty disliked PM Margaret Thatcher – FALSE
THE relationship between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Queen was far warmer than that portrayed by Gillian Anderson and Olivia Colman.
The Queen even did a swift change so that, unlike in The Crown, they were not both wearing blue on Thatcher’s first audience with the Queen.
Paul says: “I was on duty that night and the Queen was reading briefing books in a sitting room just before the audience.
“She said, ‘what colour is the Prime Minister wearing?’ Because she’d already arrived. I said, ‘She’s wearing blue your majesty’. ‘Oh dear’, she said, ‘I’m wearing blue, I better go change’. So she went to change to all red.”
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Thatcher had huge respect for the Queen and her curtsy was the lowest of all the ladies that ever met her.
Paul says: “The royals used to joke with each other and say she is so low one day, she won’t be able to get back up.”
He adds: “They weren’t at war with each other, and nobody knows what the Queen says to the Prime Minister because that meeting is private. So they’ve made up a lot there.”
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