For royal biographer Andrew Morton, "The Crown" isn't an escapist glimpse into the lives of the royal family — it's a snippet of his life.
Morton's work with Princess Diana to write the explosive 1992 biography "Diana: Her True Story" informs an episode in Season Two.
“I was shaking watching that. It was like being taken back 30 years to when I was interviewing her for the book," Morton said on the 3rd Hour of TODAY.
When “Diana: Her True Story” was published in 1992, Morton and Diana denied the late princess was part of its making. But in 1997, after her death, Morton revealed that she had been the primary source, smuggling tapes filled with revelations to Morton through her friend James Colthurst.
Morton said "The Crown" captured a strange chapter of his life, when he knew something the rest of the world didn't: The Prince and Princess of Wales' marriage was no fairytale.
“I’ve always felt that doing the Diana biography was a royal version of ‘All the President’s Men.’ You saw danger in shadows, you were kind of nervous. When you were on the subway, you stood back from the platform edge. I was nursing a secret and the secret was a dangerous one: The Prince and Princess of Wales were living separate lives. The Prince of Wales was enjoying a life with Camilla Parker Bowles. And this was knowledge kept from the British people and the world," Morton said in a post-broadcast interview with TODAY.
While writing the book, Morton knew that it would make for a good movie or TV show one day. "I was disappointed it took them so long to do a movie on it," Morton said.
Though Morton was the subject of a 2002 TV movie called "The Biographer," he said "The Crown" takes accuracy to a new level. Morton served as a consultant on the show, which re-created the wallpaper on his daughter's bedroom (he'd been using it as an office) and the typeface on the chapters he sent to Diana.
Most uncanny of all was Diana herself. Morton said that watching Elizabeth Debicki play Diana was like “seeing a ghost.”
“Her mannerisms and speech patterns were identical to the late princess. For me, having worked so closely with her, it was like seeing a ghost. It was really uncanny,” he said.
"The Crown" shows the fallout of the 1992 book, which breached the wall between the palace and public life. King Charles III and Diana separated later that year and divorced in 1996, the year before her death.
Morton said he was among the people surprised by the book's candid revelations, even if he was among the first to hear them. "I believed in the fairy story. When Diana first explained her life, I thought she was exaggerating," Morton said.
Eventually, to get the book published, Diana had to find proof to show the publishers. "She stole a love letter out of Charles' briefcase. It was a reckless thing to do, but it also kind of broke her heart as well, because she realized that everything she suspected was in fact true," Morton said.
Today, Morton is still watching the evolution of the royal family, and has written multiple books about them — including the latest about Queen Elizabeth II. (In case you're wondering, he said Imelda Staunton on "The Crown" was more "bad tempered" than the queen in real life.)
Morton commented on the rift between Diana and Charles' two sons, Prince Harry and Prince William.
"Diana always said to me she wanted Harry to be William's wingman, not his hitman. In that sense, she'd be very disappointed that they're separated by not just an ocean by a whole philosophy," Morton said.
Harry is on the cusp of publishing his own tell-all, like his mother before him. After being announced in July 2021, his memoir "Spare" is set to come out in January 2023. Harry promised a “firsthand account of (his life)” that is “accurate and wholly truthful" in a statement.
"The fact that the title is spare signifies it'll be about his role as being shadow of his eldest brother," Morton said, predicting that "reconciliation is a long way off" between the brothers.