A secret affair, a royal snub and a bullied prince — season two of The Crown makes some intriguing claims about the Royal family and their lives in the late 1950s.
Picking up in 1956 — three years into Queen Elizabeth’s reign — the new episodes raise questions about Prince Philip’s fidelity, Princess Margaret’s relationship with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Prince Charles’ education in Scotland, the Kennedys’ visit to Buckingham Palace, and the family’s involvement in various political events.
Here are five burning questions you might have after watching the season, and what you can and shouldn’t believe.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
What do we know about Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova?
In episode one, Misadventure, Queen Elizabeth suspects Prince Philip of having an affair with a Russian ballerina named Galina Ulanova.
She becomes suspicious when she finds a framed photograph of Ulanova in his suitcase just before he heads off on a five-month tour of the Commonwealth.
However, there is no evidence that Prince Philip ever had an intimate relationship with Ulanova in real life.
There have been rumours about the Duke of Edinburgh’s fidelity over the years, but none have been substantiated.
It is true, however, that Ulanova travelled to Britain with Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet at the height of the Cold War in 1956 — the same year Britain was rocked by the Suez Crisis (which we see play out in the show).
The tour generated much excitement in the UK, and also reportedly for young Prince Charles.
A report in The Argus, a daily newspaper published in Melbourne at the time, said the Prince had gone to a matinee performance with the Queen Mother hoping to see Ulanova dance.
She happened not to be dancing that day, but did get to meet the prima ballerina during an interval.
More on Prince Charles later…
What really happened when the Kennedys met the Queen?
This season we see the Queen welcome then-US president John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie to Buckingham Palace.
The Queen is initially jealous of Jackie’s beauty and intelligence, but is delighted when she later finds common ground with the US first lady.
But then rumours spread that Jackie has been badmouthing the palace and the Queen, calling her “unremarkable”.
That lights a fire under Queen Elizabeth at the peak of the season, until she hears of Mr Kennedy’s assassination.
Much of this storyline is true, but some parts have been embellished.
Mr and Mrs Kennedy visited Buckingham Palace on June 5 in 1961, arriving to much fanfare.
According to a fact check done by The Washington Post, there was some tension between Mrs Kennedy and the Queen at the time and various biographies of Jackie Kennedy’s life say the first lady wasn’t a fan of the Royal Family.
But the timeline is stretched. While the whole drama happens over one episode in the Crown, JFK’s assassination actually came some two-and-a-half years after their meeting, in November, 1963.
Did the Queen really dance with Ghana’s first PM?
Yep, this one is true.
Queen Elizabeth travelled to Ghana in 1961, four years after the country gained independence from Britain.
Hansard transcripts confirm there was “considerable anxiety” for her security at the time and concerns around the message it would send to the rest of the world. She did, however, eventually go.
Then on November 20, she danced with the country’s first prime minister Kwame Nkrumah at the High Life Ball held in the country’s capital, Accra.
As we see in the show, it was a nervous time for her staff.
The Canberra Times reported at the time that: “When the Queen returned to her table, one of her detectives who had followed her around the floor wiped his brow with relief.”
Does Margaret and Tony’s marriage last?
Spoiler alert: no.
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, who took the title Earl of Snowdon after their marriage, divorced in 1978 — something we’re sure to see next season.
And as we see in the show, their 18-year marriage was a scandal from the start.
Being a bohemian photographer, Armstrong-Jones was an unconventional match for Princess Margaret, and their relationship was plagued by rumours of secret affairs.
After they separated in 1976, the Australian Women’s Weekly ran the headline: “Two fascinating people who should never have married.”
“Many speculated on how long the union could possibly last,” the report said.
The Earl died in January this year. Princess Margaret died in 2002.
Did Charles really have such a bad time at Gordonstoun?
This season we learn how Prince Charles came to attend Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland that his father also attended as a child.
The school was famous for being tough and for challenging its students physically. Today, it still spruiks a “unique curriculum” that requires all students to “undergo outdoor education”.
Prince Charles is often quoted as describing his time there as “a prison sentence”.
“The language they use is horrid,” he reportedly said.
In a separate report, the newspaper said the school was not for pretentious men.
“For a while it appeared as if the interest of the future King were running more towards the arts than they were towards the rougher more masculine pursuits,” it said.
“At that period Prince Charles excelled in painting, drawing and music. He even baked several well-baked cakes.
“That was about the time when plans to send Prince Charles to Eton were shelved, and Gordonstoun was selected instead.”