A famously challenging time for the Windsors, the fifth and penultimate installment of the "The Crown” chronicles the royal family's lives over the course of the 1990s—a turbulent six-year chapter rife with tabloid-worthy scandals. And while the show is based on true events, the latest installment of “Beneath the Crown”, a three-episode YouTube series on Netflix's Still Watching channel, offers viewers a fascinating deep dive into the historical moments that inspired the plot. Hosted by Anita Rani, each video contains an impressive collection of archival material, surprising facts and keen insights that bring the show's history to life.
Who Was Sydney Johnson?
As a Black man of humble origins, Sydney Johnson operated in royal spheres that were traditionally off-limits to people like him. His is an incredible story, one where an outsider from the Bahamas slowly became indispensable to the Duke of Windsor as his personal valet, and in the process relocating to France and learning the ways of the royals. Later, Sydney would go on to teach Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Al-Fayed how to be a “British gentleman” after Al-Fayed purchased the Ritz hotel in Paris.
The Wales at War
By the 1990s, the media had become an important avenue for both Princess Diana and Prince Charles to tell their sides of the story. Their escalating tensions ultimately led to the 1992 publication of Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton, detailing an unhappy marriage and a “special friendship” between Prince Charles and Camila Parker Bowles. Mounting an offense, Charles’ team began working with Jonathan Dimbleby on a documentary and book to counter the low opinion polls and hostile press, much the way Morton’s book had done for Diana. Hardly ending the war, the media struggle between the estranged couple further intensified.
The Prince’s Trust
In 1976, after completing his service in the Royal Navy, Prince Charles established the Prince’s Trust with the goal of aiding underprivileged youth across Britain with efforts in education, skill building and jobs. By the 1990s, his efforts with the Trust helped build his public image through his proximity to pop culture, youth culture, and music while also highlighting his ongoing vision for a modernized and transparent monarchy.