It's easy to conflate fact with fiction when watching Netflix's The Crown. Between the ripped from the headlines plots and the verisimilitude of the acting, it's the most we've ever seen the notoriously private Windsors. To that end, the show employs a full research team and a historical consultant, the royal historian Robert Lacey, who are responsible for making sure nothing is out of time or place. As Lacey told Town & Country Magazine, "The offices of The Crown are almost a newsroom. There are eight to ten researchers at this double bank of computers, with books, a library, everything, and they are working every day, preparing the raw material."
Lacey prefers not to think of the show's depictions as true or false, but instead real or imagined. Most of what's happened in the past is elusive; even with a famous family, no one writes down or photographs the minute flourishes of daily life. That's what Lacey and the research team are charged with recreating. For example, we don't know exactly what Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Harold Wilson said to each other after a disaster struck the small Welsh mining town of Aberfan in 1966. But we know they met, and we know that days later, the Queen went to Wales.
Lacey staunchly defends the decisions The Crown team has made in attempting to recreate what's lost. "History is a truth, but there are other truths that are conveyed in the drama."
But where plotlines and dialogue can be slippery, a photo is forever. The Crown meticulously recreates moments from recorded history, as shown in these photo comparisons between the actual royal family (and royal hangers-on) and their television counterparts.
Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman)
This season, Queen Elizabeth invests her son formally as the Prince of Wales. The costumes from the original broadcast were recreated for The Crown.
Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter)
Recreating Princess Margaret's looks from her island holidays to Mustique was aided by the troves of photos that exist from her time there.
Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies)
Of playing Prince Philip, Menzies told the New York Times he did his homework. "There is a lot written, a lot of footage, and it's both intimidating and an amazing resource," he said. "There is the technical aspect of working on the voice and physicality, which I enjoyed; those parameters can paradoxically be very creative. But it can be its own crazy rabbit hole."
Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor)
On The Crown, we see Prince Charles invested in the theater community at university, but he also continued to play polo. The photo above on the left was taken following a match between Cambridge University and Hertfordshire in 1968.
Princess Anne (Erin Doherty)
In Season 3, Princess Anne emerges as a central character, played sympathetically by cast newcomer Erin Doherty. As the actor tells Bustle, "[Anne] has the ability to just be a normal human being in this really abnormal situation. And that's what makes you so drawn to her. She's reacting, I feel, as any of us would."
Roddy Llewellyn (Harry Treadaway)
On the show, Princess Margaret takes her new paramour Roddy Llewellyn shopping for swimmers, landing on a pair covered in Union Jacks. As in turns out, Llewellyn wore something incredibly similar in real life.
Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell)
As in real life, polo played a role in the romance between Camilla and Prince Charles as young people. Here, on the left, Camilla can be seen speaking with Charles at a polo match in the early 1970s. It would be another three decades before the pair finally married.
Andrew Parker Bowles (Andrew Buchan)
Andrew Parker Bowles turn as Charles' romantic rival was expected for royal fans, but it's also true that Parker Bowles and Princess Anne were briefly entangled. In fact, the two remained friends, with Anne naming Parker Bowles as godfather to her daughter, Zara Tindall.