Princess Diana holidaying with Princes William and Harry was recreated in The Crown
These Eerie Moments From Harry & Meghan Were Recreated In The Crown

The accuracy is uncanny.

by Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 
Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

The Harry & Meghan docuseries was never not going to be controversial. The animosity between the royal couple and the U.K. press guaranteed it would be lambasted, no matter what was in it. However, Netflix reportedly tried to keep the furor down by pushing the release date from November to December so that its arrival would be separate from Season 5 of The Crown. Considering how many real-life moments Harry & Meghan shows that The Crown recreated over the years, it’s easy to understand why.

Warning: Spoilers for Harry & Meghan and The Crown Season 5 follow. Any history of Harry’s life would almost certainly include some overlap with The Crown. After all, Netflix’s six-season series dramatizes his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II’s life, from her early 20s to her late 70s. As Charles and Diana's younger son, the fictionalized version of Harry has had very little screen time. However, his older brother, Will, was featured in several scenes, played by teen actor Senan West in Season 5.

The Crown’s heavy focus on Will and Harry’s parents, Charles and Diana, meant any historical footage had better-than-even odds it might be in Season 5, still months from release when the docuseries was completed. But even so, seeing the real scenes only weeks after watching The Crown’s dramatization is super eerie.


Diana, Will, & Harry On Vacation


The first moment when the documentary and The Crown cross comes at about the 20-minute mark in Harry & Meghan Episode 1. As Harry talked about not being able to go on vacation without being chased by photographers, the doc showed footage of him with his mother and brother on the beach, with Diana in a leopard print bathing dress and the boys in white T-shirts.

While this vacation took place in 1990 without Charles, The Crown Season 5 recreated it as part of the “Second Honeymoon Sequence.” Elizabeth Debicki turned up in the exact outfit, with her TV sons wearing white T-shirts, heading for the beach as photographers filmed them from the nearby yachts.


Diana & Charles’ Engagement

Harry & Meghan Episode 3 focused on the royal engagement, including how much the press hounded the couples, especially the would-be princesses joining the family. While the point is that Meghan was told it would die down after a while, because it did for Kate, images of Charles and Diana’s engagement interview were are shown as a reminder that this doesn’t always happen.

The Crown Season 4 centered on Charles and Diana’s marriage, from the initial engagement to how badly their relationship collapsed due to the lack of protections afforded to the Princess of Wales. As part of that, the series recreated their engagement walkabout in the gardens and their joint interview, shots of which both turn up in Harry & Meghan.


Elizabeth & Diana’s Walkabouts


Episode 3 included Meghan’s first experience as a working royal doing what is known as a “walkabout,” aka getting out of the car and saying hello to the waiting public. As Meghan discussed how no one taught her anything and how hard she had to wing it, her first walkabout is constructed with two other famous moments from the 1970s and 1990s, with Queen Elizabeth II and Diana both getting out of the car and greeting the public.

Considering the sheer number of walkabouts both women did, it’s a little startling to see the two the show picked because they are both ones The Crown used in buffer scenes between its dramatized moments behind closed doors. The one of Queen Elizabeth II is from her Silver Jubilee walkabout in 1977, which is recreated precisely by Olivia Colman in The Crown Season 3.

The other, with Diana in a floral dress, is recreated by Emma Corrin and Elizabeth Debicki in The Crown Seasons 4 and 5. That’s because Diana’s wearing an outfit she was seen in so much it became famous as her “caring dress.” The series used it as the inspiration for Corrin’s outfit in the scene where she shakes the hand of an AIDS patient in Season 4 and her arrival dress to go on the “second honeymoon” in Season 5.


Elizabeth’s 21st Birthday Speech

Elizabeth II’s famous radio broadcast speech on the occasion of her 21st birthday, before ascending the throne, gets played twice during the Harry & Meghan docuseries, once with the Coronation in Episode 1 and then again in Episode 3, talking about Elizabeth II’s commitment to holding the Commonwealth together.

It’s a historical moment where she uttered the famous line about pledging her life, “be it long or short,” to the service of the country. However, The Crown didn’t recreate it in Season 1, but rather in Season 4. Claire Foy reprised her role as the younger Elizabeth II as a flashback before the middle-aged Elizabeth II, played by Olivia Colman, headed to a contentious meeting of the Commonwealth of Nations.


Charles & Diana’s Australian Tour

The premiere episode of Harry & Meghan Volume 2 focuses on the couple’s wedding and their experience being working royals. Their first official royal tour after Archie’s birth took them to Australia; coincidentally, it’s the same one Charles and Diana did after having William. The series juxtaposes Charles and Diana’s tour from the early 1980s with Harry and Meghan’s in 2019.

That tour just so happened to be one that The Crown centered an entire episode around in Season 4. It’s not a surprise the show covered it, as the period after William’s birth through the early months of Harry’s life are said to have been the closest Charles and Diana came to happily married. It seemed like it was the closest Harry and Meghan also got to joy while within the royal bubble.


John Major Announcing The Separation

John Major’s formal announcement of the separation of the Crown Prince and the Princess of Wales in Parliament was historic. But the separation of his parents was also a significant moment in Harry’s life, so it’s not surprising that it’s featured in both the docuseries and The Crown.

Notably, neither The Crown nor Harry & Meghan didn’t initially show Major’s speech in Parliament; both chose to go the voiceover route instead, making the similarities much eerier.


Elizabeth & Philip’s Wedding


Volume 2 of Harry & Meghan opens with footage of royal weddings that came before, starting with grainy footage of Elizabeth and Phillip’s wedding day, the early 1980s images of Charles and Diana’s wedding, and then pulling up to Harry and Meghan’s big day.

The Crown deliberately did not recreate Charles and Diana’s wedding in Season 4, instead fading to black just ahead of the ceremony. But Season 1 went all out in doing justice to Elizabeth’s nuptials from the 1940s. The image of Elizabeth being walked down the aisle that opens Volume 2 is recreated almost perfectly in the series premiere from 2016.


The Martin Bashir Interview

The Crown dedicated two episodes to Diana’s famous interview with Martin Bashir, including a scene in which Debicki recreated Diana’s on-camera performance exquisitely. The show focused on one of the interview’s most famous moments, the “three of us in this marriage” quote.

Harry & Meghan also used that interview, with clips distributed across both Volumes 1 and 2, but not to talk about infidelity. Instead, the docuseries cleverly uses some lesser-known clips of the famous broadcast, featuring overlooked remarks Diana made about being hounded by the paparazzi and how trapped she felt.


Diana In The BMW

In the run-up to the Bashir interview, The Crown Season 5 featured a scene when Diana jumps in her BMW and drives to her brother’s house, only to find her brakes were cut. Although the “brakes were cut” part is fiction, the chase in the BMW during that timeframe was not. It was based on an actual incident outside Kensington a few weeks before Charles and Diana separated.

That moment shows up in the montage of “Diana being hounded” clips in Episode 3, as Harry talks about his parents’ separation. Paparazzi, alerted by nearby drivers over a car phone, descended on Diana, causing her to speed away on London streets and crash the car. The documentary didn’t show the crash (for obvious reasons), but it did show Diana desperately driving off.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation


Harry & Meghan used historic footage throughout the documentary, both as a way to put Harry’s life in context and to juxtapose the history of the family with Harry and Meghan’s experiences. One of the most striking comes in the docuseries’ first episode, with footage of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

The Crown’s first season dedicated an entire episode to this event, with Claire Foy as young Elizabeth II looking slightly overwhelmed by the experience. Harry & Meghan used the real-deal footage with the actual Elizabeth II looking not just overwhelmed but genuinely terrified at the task before her. It really brought home how much The Crown got right about being a royal, even if it fictionalizes the details.

Harry & Meghan and The Crown are both streaming on Netflix.

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