Friends object to 'unfair' portrayal of courtier shown in The Crown as nasty to Princess Diana

Patrick Sawer
·4 min read
The Prince and Princess Of Wales on a walkabout in Brisbane, Australia, with the the Hon. Edward Adeane (right of Prince Charles in picture -balding with glasses) - Tim Graham/Getty Images
The Prince and Princess Of Wales on a walkabout in Brisbane, Australia, with the the Hon. Edward Adeane (right of Prince Charles in picture -balding with glasses) - Tim Graham/Getty Images

Family and friends of a Royal courtier shown as cruel and dismissive to Princess Diana have condemned his portrayal in The Crown as grossly "unfair and inaccurate".

They say that far from being unkind to the young Diana, Edward Adeane did his best to make her feel welcome and help her negotiate her way through the complexities of life as a member of the Royal family.

Adeane’s friends say that at worst he was “awkward” around the teenage princess, being a lifelong bachelor with no experience of children of his own.

“Edward Adeane was a wonderful person,” a former palace employee told The Telegraph. “He was a decent and honourable man.”

Prince Charles with Edward Adeane sitting behind him at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1985 - Rex Features/Daily Mail/REX Shutterstock
Prince Charles with Edward Adeane sitting behind him at the Royal Albert Hall in February 1985 - Rex Features/Daily Mail/REX Shutterstock

Those who knew Adeane, who died in 2015 aged 75, after serving as private secretary and treasurer to the Prince of Wales between 1979 and 1985, said the Netflix series was guilty of repeating cliches and inaccuracies about the way Princess Diana was treated in Royal circles.

In episode 6 of series 4, titled Terra Nullius – which deals with Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s 1983 tour of Australia – Adeane is shown speaking brusquely and insensitivity to the Princess, springing it on her that she has to be separated from Prince William, then still a baby, for two weeks. 

When she asks why, he tells her: “Because you married the Prince of Wales, Ma’am, and that is an act of service to the Crown and to the country which you signed up to willingly.”

He is later shown taking part in a surveillance operation, ordered by Prince Charles, to establish if the Princess is secretly meeting a suspected lover, such as James Hewitt.

Adeane is also shown making a snide remark about Princess Diana’s mental health and telling her during a meeting that she’s not stable enough to do an overseas tour on her own.

Contrary to his expectation, the tour – during which she helped change public attitudes by meeting Aids patients – was a personal triumph for the Princess.

But those who knew Adeane say The Crown’s portrayal of him is far from reality.

His goddaughter, Zoe Tryon (pictured below), an eco-activist who works with indigenous people in the Amazon to help them safeguard their threatened environment, said: “I haven't watched the series, but from what I’ve been told the representation of my godfather is completely at odds with the memories of all those who knew Edward.

Zoe Tryon beside an open pit of crude oil near the town of Lago Agrio, Sucumbios, Ecuador - Clare Kendall /eyevine
Zoe Tryon beside an open pit of crude oil near the town of Lago Agrio, Sucumbios, Ecuador - Clare Kendall /eyevine

“Viewers have been told often enough that the scenes in The Crown are fictional. As the media have recently observed, this is even more the case with the current series.”

The former wife of a close friend of Prince Charles, told this newspaper: “It’s not true at all that Edward was nasty to the Princess of Wales and it's awful to suggest he was. He was a bachelor and perhaps he didn’t find it easy to talk to an 18-year-old teenage girl, but in my experience he was lovely.”

Contemporary accounts suggest that in fact Adeane found himself sidelined by the nervous and suspicious Princess, who disposed of a number of the Prince’s long-serving staff. Despite this he was additionally appointed her private secretary in 1984, following the resignation of Oliver Everett.

Following his resignation in 1985, after a number of disagreements, including accusations that he had made plans without consulting the Prince, the Queen honoured Adeane with a CVO. 

Furthermore, Prince Charles appointed him an Extra Equerry – which involved occasionally representing the Prince at Royal Household memorial services.

Royal Historian Hugo Vickers said: “It’s a very unkind portrayal of Adeane. Another private secretary at the palace told me Adeane was not very at ease with Diana. He was quite shy and had no point of contact with her, but he did his best. He was certainly not unkind to her, but she got rid of him just as she got rid of everyone.

“It’s typical of The Crown to paint every courtier as a grey suited snake and it's a very unfair representation of him.”

Netflix declined to comment.