The final six episodes of The Crown on Netflix attempt to recreate the months and years following Princess Diana’s 1997 death. At the time, her sons Prince William and Prince Harry were just 15 and 13 years old, respectively, and suddenly Prince Charles found himself in the role of single father to two grieving sons. One especially memorable moment royal fans might recognize comes from the episode “Willsmania” when Prince Charles decides to take his sons on a working holiday to Canada that included a ski trip. But did this really happen?
The Crown sees a grieving Prince William (Ed McVey) struggling to see eye-to-eye with his well-meaning dad Prince Charles (Dominic West), who appears to be desperately trying to bond with him at the urging of Camilla Parker-Bowles (Olivia Williams) by suggesting a four-day skiing holiday in Whistler, Canada along with Prince Harry (Luther Ford). Initially, Prince William balks at the idea but eventually joins his father and brother, thinking that he is heading out for a private, family trip rather than a royal function. His father then tells him that they are expected to do a photo call in Whistler. Which, yes, did actually happen.
In real life, Prince Charles did visit Vancouver and Whistler in Canada from March 23 to 28 in 1998 with Prince William and Prince Harry, posing for royal photographers on the ski hill before heading off for a their own private ski holiday.
At the time, Prince William was something of a rock star, much like his mother Princess Diana. Everywhere he went he was greeted by screaming fans, and royal reporter Robert Jobslon wrote in The New Royal Family that the heir to the throne “hated every second” of this level of fame. “At first [Prince William] did his best to hide his discomfort at the extreme adoration with which he was met. But he hated every second of it, as we were soon to find out,” per Town and Country. So it would seem that The Crown did get that part right.
They did get one thing wrong, however. Prince Harry was just 13 years old at the time, very much a little boy, and Luther Ford, the actor playing him in this scene, is 22 years old. That was a bit of a leap.