Was James Colthurst real? What happened to the Andrew Morton tapes? The Crown fact-checked

Season five of The Crown depicted the implosion of Princess Diana (played by Elizabeth Debicki) and Prince Charles’ (Dominic West) marriage. Amid the scandal, the show featured scenes in which Princess Diana made audio tapes for author Andrew Morton (Andrew Steele), who was writing a book about her. The go-between taking the tapes from Diana to Morton was her friend James Colthurst (Oliver Chris), who was approached by the author in the first instance.

Colthurst spoke to Diana and she decided she wanted to take part in the book, which she agreed with the doctor conveying the tapes back and forth between the two parties.

The book Diana: Her True Story caused quite a stir when it came out in 1992 with damning revelations about the Princess of Wales and how she felt she’d been treated by the Royal Family.

Additionally, the show saw Morton’s house ransacked in a robbery.

Diana and Colthurst were shown to be old friends with the pair meeting again not long after the royal had a public engagement at the hospital where he worked – but how much of this was true?

Yes, the figure of Colthurst was indeed real and he was friends with Princess Diana.

Author Koenig said: “Well, they actually met on a skiing trip when she was about 17-years-old and probably Switzerland. They kept a friendship going. He was a medical doctor.

“Morton met him years later in the 80s and they started talking.

“It was the perfect storm, the perfect person who knew Diana privately and could become the courier.”

She added: “So it was kind of like having a mutual friend, sort of to speak, but not knowing until the time came when he was writing his book.”

Author Morton served as a consultant on the new series of The Crown for the episode The System, which depicted the creation of his book.

As The Crown accurately depicts, someone did break into Morton’s office and Colthurst did get knocked off his bike.

Koenig said about the tapes: “Andrew Morton said in an interview not that long ago. The actual quote is, ‘The tapes are safely put away in a safe and out of public view’.”

Interestingly, Morton even said in a recent interview how he was wary and on “high alert for attacks”.

He even thought he was being followed, admitting it had been an “unnerving time”.

Although The Crown accurately showed the process by which the tapes were made with Colthurst acting as the middle man, Morton said the portrayal wasn’t completely true.

Morton said it was a “compressed scene” and in fact the process “far more laborious”.

He told Entertainment Tonight: “What would happen is that James Colthurst, the intermediary, would go to Kensington Palace with a list of questions that I prepared and he would mic Diana up like this and then she would answer the questions and then they go have lunch.”

Adding to the outlet: “Then it was my job to type it all up and ask follow-ups.”

Moreover, there were also some gaps between the interview sessions rather than the process being continuous as the drama seemed to suggest.

The Crown also didn’t show the moment Morton first heard Diana speaking on the tapes.

He was in a working men’s pub at the time and putting on the headphones and listening to her voice transported him to a “parallel universe”.

The Crown season 5 is streaming on Netflix now

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Showbiz Was James Colthurst real? What happened to the Andrew Morton tapes? The Crown fact-checked