How controversial does The Crown get in series five, you ask? Well, alongside hinting at Prince Philip having a special lady-friend other than the Queen and re-enacting the Diana and Martin Bashir doc that the BBC swore to the Royal family would never see the light of day again, Peter Morgan has pulled out the big guns: he’s tackling Tampongate.
Had Morgan dreamt up the storyline and dialogue of Prince (now King) Charles telling his then-mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, that he wished he could be reincarnated as a tampon (so he could live inside her) the audience would have surely deemed it crass and too far-fetched.
But, as we’ve often found out by running to Wikipedia at the end of each episode, the truth is much stranger than fiction. And, mortifyingly to all involved, Tampongate was one bloody scandal that rocked British society in January 1993.
Our new Prince Charles, actor Dominic West, has said not only did he relish playing this part of royal history alongside his Camilla (Olivia Williams), but it reframed his opinion on the whole scandal. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly he said: “I remember thinking it was something so sordid and deeply, deeply embarrassing [at the time].
“Looking back on it, and having to play it, what you're conscious of is that the blame was not with these two people, two lovers, who were having a private conversation. What's really [clear now] is how invasive and disgusting was the press's attention to it, that they printed it out verbatim and you could call a number and listen to the actual tape.”
The press had an absolute field day when, just three months after Charles and Princess Diana had formally separated, a full transcript of a ‘sexy’ telephone call between Charles and Camilla in 1989 was printed in the People newspaper.
Under a headline ‘Charles and Camilla – the tape’, the explicit six-minute phone call went into excruciating detail as the long-time lovers fantasised about being intimate with each other. Even worse, there was full audio to accompany it, thanks to a rogue radio enthusiast who had stumbled upon the chat using a hi-tech scanning device.
30 years on, their conversation is still body-shudderingly cringeful.