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We fact-check The Crown over whether Diana was being bugged


Season five of The Crown continues to prove a compelling watch as the Peter Morgan drama maintains a top spot in Netflix’s most watched programmes across the globe. The new series might have landed a month ago and yet and continue to have questions about how much of the show is fact and how much is fiction. One big question hangs over Princess Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki) and whether someone was listening in to her calls.

Over the course of the series, Diana was depicted as becoming more paranoid after hearing clicks when she made phone calls.

To make matters worse, in the show other members of the Royal Family also worried they were being recorded.

This was very much the case after Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams) were caught out when their intimate ‘Tampongate’ call made it into the papers.

Therefore, in the show, Diana had every reason to be suspicious of someone recording and listening to her calls.

Was someone taping Diana’s calls?

The Crown depicted Diana’s increasing paranoia with a sequence in which her car brakes didn’t work.

In another, revisited the infamous BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir (Prasanna Puwanarajah), who told her she was being spied on.

Koenig said: “She had this fear or a perception that she was under surveillance and I think it had something to do with – what I would call her alleged paranoia about many, many things.

“The way she also dropped her security after stepping down, even though the Queen and Charles were adamant that she should have kept it.”

The author went on to say: “Obviously her phone calls were picked up in those days when she was talking with [James] Hewitt and of course Charles and Camilla as well.

“And from what I understand, The Crown does not discuss Diana’s own phone calls, which of course is again the narrative of The Crown.”

However, Koenig did say the American intelligence organisation the National Security Agency did hold 1,056 pages of classified information on Diana – something they disclosed after her death.

The spy agency did hold a file on the late Princess of Wales but said all the information they had on her was “incidental”.

The NSA confirmed in 1998 the existence of the file after The Daily Record filed a Freedom of Information request.

Koenig said: “Then several years later, in fact, the agency did contain references to Diana but they did not target her communications.

“They also acknowledged that they cooperated fully with the investigation into Diana’s death. So, they were out as best as they could be and they said it was basically incidental.

“She was not an intent of theirs for spying but whoever they were checking on, she was caught in the crosshairs.”

Koenig added: “Why would the National Security Agency be interested in Diana?

“But they may have been doing somebody else who had a conversation with Diana or whatever. We don’t know. It might be years before we find out those files.”

The historian concluded: “I’m sure the NSA has files on lots of people, who get caught in the crosshairs and they have the file but it’s not of importance.”

In 2006, the NSA denied it had listened into Diana’s phone calls on the night she died back in 1997.

The NSA’s statement also said officials didn’t “target Princess Diana’s communications” and “cooperated fully” with the inquiry into her death.

The Crown season 5 is streaming on Netflix now





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