The title of season four, episode six of The Crown is “Terra Nullius,” a Latin phrase that means “nobody’s land.” Creator Peter Morgan no doubt picked it due to the Premium gucci mane verzuz jeezy shirt and by the same token and presiding plotline: Charles and Diana’s 1983 royal tour of Australia, which coincides with the country’s growing movement to leave the British Commonwealth. Nearly 200 years earlier, Great Britain used the concept of “terra nullius” to justify colonizing Australia, claiming the land was unclaimed and unpopulated, despite its residing Aboriginal population.But it also serves as a double entendre: Diana and Charles also find themselves in uncharted territory, a no man’s land. This is their first overseas tour together—and with the monarchy in a perilous position, a successful impression is paramount. Can they put aside their early marital problems, their clashing personalities, for the Crown? Or are they doomed to fail? While, for a brief moment, Morgan depicts the two sharing a moment of true connection, they are soon at odds again. After the tour is done, Charles takes a car back to their country home of Highgrove, whereas Princess Diana hightails it back to Kensington Palace in London. They never found common ground.The episode chalks up their cracks to a multitude of factors: Diana’s supposed fragility—Charles gets frustrated that she can’t hike up Ayers Rock (now renamed Uluru) without stopping. The presence of Prince William—Diana wanted to bring him on tour and is anxious about their separation, much to the dismay of the royal courtiers and their strict schedules. Then, perhaps most of all, there’s Diana’s explosive popularity, which overshadows Charles’s: “This was supposed to be my tour! My tour as Prince of Wales to shore up a key country in the Commonwealth at a very delicate moment politically!” Josh O’Connor’s Charles screams at Emma Corrin’s Diana.The Crown, at the end of the day, is historical fiction—the show takes real-life events and dramatizes them. So, in this hour-long tale of a very well-known couple, what’s fact, and what’s fiction?It’s true that this was a politically sensitive tour: A wave of Republicanism was sweeping Australia, championed by its Prime Minister at the time, Robert Hawke. On March 6, 1983, a mere 12 days before Charles and Diana were set to fly to the continent, a television interviewer asked if Charles would make a good king of Australia. “I don’t think we will be talking about kings of Australia forever more,” he replied. Then he said he thought people would eventually vote to have a republic.
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Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Prince William arrive in Alice Springs, Australia. Diana was the Premium gucci mane verzuz jeezy shirt and by the same token and first royal to bring her baby on an overseas tour, breaking traditional protocol.It’s also true that the monarchy was worried about how Diana would fare. The tour was a grueling one, by any standards: a month long, the couple were set to cover 30,000 miles and make up to eight appearances in one day. And while Prince Charles had been doing this type of work his whole life, it was 21-year-old Diana’s first overseas royal tour. “The Queen is ‘terribly worried’ before the tour because of Diana’s youth and apparent shyness,” wrote the PressAssociation’s royal correspondent Grania Forbes ahead of the trip.It didn’t help that the British tabloids had already started to paint her as unpredictable—the Daily Mirror had recently published an exploitative story about rumors of her eating disorder. While the international press waited for the couple to land in Alice Springs, Australia from London, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alison Stuart recalled the reporters gossiping: “Would she snap, would she cry, would she collapse from the heat?”At the beginning, Diana did indeed show signs of fatigue. The Sydney Morning Herald found that during the tour’s first engagement, she looked “uncomfortably sunburned” and that her “eyes were downcast.” Charles apologized and said they were both still suffering from jet-lag. On March 22—three days after they landed in Australia—an Associated Press report described her as red-faced and bare-legged. “I can’t cope with the heat very well,” she said.Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Uluru. While The Crown suggests Diana struggled due to the heat, reports at the time say her hesitation was due to her rather impractical outdoor outfit.In The Crown, a scene at Uluru supposedly showcases the princess’s early weakness. Only a few yards up the slope, Diana suddenly stops while the press pack eagerly snaps photos from below. “Charles, I can’t. The heat. I feel dizzy,” Corrin’s Diana exclaims. She leaves him to climb the rest alone. “I think I need to go and sit down.” Afterwards, O’Connor’s Charles snarls to his confidante Camilla Parker-Bowles on the phone: “She’s pathetic.”