Princess Diana’s private secretary Patrick Jephson fact-checks The Crown Season 5 and shares what “was made up”

As someone who witnessed many of the trials and tribulations dramatised in The Crown first-hand, Patrick Jephson has set the record straight

Princess Diana in The Crown
(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images and Keith Bernstein/Future)

Princess Diana’s private secretary, Patrick Jephson, has watched The Crown's incredibly controversial fifth season and, as someone who witnessed many of the season's storylines play out in real life, is here to set the record straight.

Season five of The Crown has arguably been the show's most controversial season yet. From fans noticing a spelling error in the show's first episode, to the more serious claims of the show being 'deliberately hurtful' to royals, producers of The Crown have experienced as much scandal as their characters. 

This controversy left Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana's former private secretary, on "maximum alert" when he binged the show a couple of weeks ago. After watching the season, perhaps feeling the need to contribute to the ongoing conversation surrounding Diana's portrayal in the show, Jephson published a lengthy essay in The Telegraph, detailing whether the storylines held any truth or not. 

In the piece, Jephson noted that he was "witness to quite a few of the original events portrayed" and had worked with The Crown producers in 2019 to contribute his "first-hand perspective on what really happened."

Jephson wrote that while watching The Crown, he was looking out for "malicious twisting of words," "dishonest presentation of historical facts," and "lies and cruel falsehoods," but shared that he "didn't find any."

Princess Diana in The Crown season 5

(Image credit: Netflix)

While there were no outright lies in the show, Jephson did explain that a few key moments were depicted in ways that slightly deviated from the truth. For example, you may remember when Charles rolls his eyes at Diana for suggesting they go shopping on vacation. Jephson said that this did happen, just not on a yacht. Instead, according to Jephson, the moment took place "during an official visit to the Middle East in 1989."

Jephson also revealed that the scene where Diana tells the Queen about her highly controversial Panorama interview was fully invented by the show's producers and never happened in real life.

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

He wrote, "I know it was made up because I was there, and I can tell you that the princess absolutely failed to summon up the necessary courage and delegated the job to me.

"So, sitting beside her in her Jaguar en route to an official engagement, I used the car telephone to call the Queen’s private secretary and break the sensational news. In a comedy of confusion – the genuine mark of reality – the only person in the Queen’s office at the time was Her Majesty’s press secretary who thus got the vital information seconds before he received it first hand from the BBC."

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Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.