The Crown: Inside Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Troubled ‘Second Honeymoon’ to Italy

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The first episode of The Crown Season 5 follows Dominic West’s Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki’s Princess Diana as they depart on what the press calls their “second honeymoon” to Italy. The use of quotes here is very much intentional. The mood on this trip is far, far from romantic. (A note to the reader: spoilers to follow.) To start, Charles and Diana want to do completely opposite things: “Some people may like to go shopping,” she remarks when her husband reels off a heavily historical sightseeing itinerary. Then there’s the fact that several other people on the boat are essentially acting as buffers so that the couple can avoid each other much of the time. (“I’m off to read the classics,” Diana jokes to William and Harry as she goes off to thumb through an issue of Vogue.) When Prince Charles decides to cut the trip short and return to the UK, they get into a screaming fight on deck.

It’s a dysfunctional scenario that makes for great television—but how much of it is based on the real Charles and Diana themselves?

In August 1991, Charles and Diana indeed boarded a yacht and set sail along the Italian coast. At the time, the press mostly used lovey-dovey language to describe the sojourn. The Evening Standard coined its description of a “second honeymoon” and described the trip’s romantic intentions at length. “Somewhere off the Italian coast, close to the isle of Capri, a beautiful and luxurious yacht lay at anchor waiting to welcome its royal guests on what is being seen as a ‘love cruise’ to put the sparkle back in their marriage,” the outlet wrote on August 7. (The aforementioned yacht, by the way, clocked in at over 343 feet and belonged to billionaire Yiannis Latsis.)

As The Crown depicts, Charles and Diana were just two of many people on board. Joining them were King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, as well as Prince Charles’s cousin, Lord Romsey, and his wife, Lady Penelope. Each couple also brought their children.

Dominic West as Prince Charles, Teddy Hawley as Prince Harry, Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, and Timothee Sambor as Prince William in The Crown.

Photo: Keith Bernstein

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