Nick Bullen isn’t surprised that “The Crown” chose to unbox “Camillagate.”
Season 5 of the hit Netflix series about the British royal family didn’t shy away from revisiting one of the most explosive scandals to rock the palace.
It was 1993 when tabloids published the transcript of an intimate conversation between Prince Charles and his lover Camilla Parker Bowles. During the call, Charles told Camilla he wanted to “live inside her trousers” and joked that he could be reincarnated as a Tampax tampon. A giggling Camilla said she “desperately, desperately” yearned for him. The pair exchanged multiple “love yous” before finally hanging up. The scandal was coined “Camillagate” and “Tampongate” by U.K. tabloids.
“Everything that was being discussed in that phone call was about as intimate as it can get,” the co-founder of True Royalty TV told Fox News Digital. “I think it was always going to get played out in ‘The Crown’ because it was such a big tabloid scoop, such a scandal. … However, it is incredibly embarrassing for everybody involved.
“I’m sure nobody would want their love conversations heard. We all say crazy things in those conversations. And having it played out in the newspapers … and now on television is shocking. And I can’t imagine how the queen would’ve felt personally. All I can think was if it was my child having those discussions, and it was being broadcast around the world, I’d be pretty sad and rather embarrassed.”
Bullen is an award-winning documentarian who has been producing programs about the British royal family for 20 years and has worked closely with Charles about a decade.
Bullen said he expected the series to recreate the sensitive memory but insisted it’s still a sore spot for the family. At the time of the scandal, reports claimed Princess Diana thought the conversation was “sick.” The Sunday Mirror alleged that the chat took place when Charles was married to Diana and Camilla to Andrew Parker Bowles.
Charles and Diana were separated when “Camillagate” made headlines. Their divorce was finalized in 1996, a year before Diana was killed in a car crash at age 36.
Bullen said he also wasn’t surprised that this season featured Diana’s “Panorama” interview with Marin Bashir. It was in 1995 when the Princess of Wales detailed her mental health struggles and the breakdown of her marriage on television. She famously said, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” referring to Charles’ affair with his ex.
“Lots of the people in that program were people I’ve worked with and know really, really well,” Bullen said. “And it’s interesting watching that and just seeing how far from the truth it really is.”
Bullen pointed out that while “The Crown” depicted how Bashir used deceitful methods to secure his sit-down, it didn’t detail how the backlash deeply impacted the family, including Diana.
“I think she was almost certainly regretful probably from the moment that she made it,” he explained. “Earl Spencer, her brother Charles, had already started to have misgivings before the interview. And, to be fair, they did mention that in ‘The Crown,’ but I think the moment she did it, she probably felt it was the wrong thing to do.
“I know there’d been lots of reports saying she knew exactly what she was doing, and she felt that she was giving herself a voice that had to be heard. But, actually, when she saw the damage that it caused, I’m certain she would’ve regretted it.”
Bullen shared that sources who knew Diana told him she was warned not to do the tell-all.
“Those around her were pretty clear in saying to her it was a mistake to do it,” he said. “I was talking to someone who … [knew] her very well, who was having lunch with her the day that the interview happened. He was the editor of a very big newspaper here at the time. And she said to him, ‘I’ve been approached about doing this interview. I’m thinking about doing this interview.’
“And he said to her, ‘In no circumstances should you do that. It would be a terrible, terrible mistake.’ Little did he know that, at that very moment, the cameras were being set up in a room above him at the palace. I think she was being counseled pretty heavily by people not to do anything.”
The interview resurfaced in 2020 when The Sunday Times alleged that Bashir, now 59, showed two false bank statements to Diana’s brother in an attempt to convince him that a staff member was leaking information about the family. Bashir allegedly also showed Diana a fake abortion receipt claiming that her children’s nanny had become pregnant by Charles.
The 9th Earl Spencer accused the BBC of using unethical tactics to secure the sit-down and called for an inquiry. The BBC hired former British Supreme Court Judge John Dyson to lead an independent investigation into the TV appearance. Dyson concluded that Bashir used “deceitful behavior” to land the interview. BBC Director-General Tim Davie issued an apology and vowed to never air the interview again. Diana’s two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, also publicly condemned the interview.
Bullen said he hopes that True Royalty TV will help viewers to “get the truth” with their latest lineup of specials and documentaries. And he suspects that the royal family won’t be streaming the new season of “The Crown” anytime soon.
“We’ve been told that Camilla’s watched it [before],” he explained. “We’ve been told that some of the younger royals have watched it. I haven’t heard whether anyone is watching it this season. It’s interesting that there’s been quite a backlash in the U.K. A lot of people that I know who are connected to the royal family … have all said they’re not going to watch it. Now, whether they do it secretly and don’t admit it is a whole other thing. But a lot of people feel it’s now so up to the present day and it’s so fictional in so many ways that it would be disloyal of them to watch it.
“I spoke to someone … who’s very friendly with the king,” he added. “And he just said, ‘There’s absolutely no way I’m going to watch this. I just couldn’t.’ I think if you don’t watch it though, you’re probably going to be in the minority. So I think a lot are definitely watching it.”