James Colthurst Secretly Passed Tapes Between Princess Di And Writer Andrew Morton

who is 'the crown's dr james colthurst, and where is he now
Where Is 'The Crown's IRL Dr. James Colthurst Now?Netflix


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Season 5 of The Crown is out now and, naturally, people are once again pouring over details of Princess Diana’s life and which stories told on the show are real, and which aren't.

One character introduced this season is Dr. James Colthurst, a good friend of Diana who was her go-between with writer Andrew Morton. He appears in episode 2 of the fifth season, where viewers see him answering a phone call from Diana, and it becomes clear that these two have been friends for a long time.

But, of course—as the British royal family likes to remind everyone—The Crown is ~technically~ fiction. So, is Dr. James Colthurst a real person? Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Dr. James Colthurst in The Crown?

Dr. James Colthurst is a medical doctor who became close friends with Princess Diana. In the series, he's played by Oliver Chris. On the show, he agrees to be an intermediary between Diana and Andrew Morton, who was writing a book about her that would eventually become Diana: Her True Story.

So, Morton gave Colthurst questions and Diana recorded her answers on tape, which were returned to Morton by Colthurst.

After Diana’s death in 1997, Morton shared that this was exactly how he got details about Diana’s life for his book.

How did he meet Princess Diana?

Princess Diana first met Colthurst in Val Claret, France, when she was only 17 years old (before she married Prince Charles). She had hurt her ankle, according to an essay Colthurst wrote in The Independent. They ended up becoming friends and stayed close until Diana's untimely death.

"She knew several of the friends I was with [on the trip], and they brought her back to our apartment when she twisted her ankle, telling her I would look at it as I was a medical student at the time,” he shared. Colthurst described her as: “Good fun, bright and mischievous," adding that "it was hard not to hit it off with Diana straight away, and so began the friendship she and I maintained for the rest of her short, eventful life.”

Diana trusted Colthurst with her secrets.

Diana shared things with him like her struggle with an eating disorder, her first affair, and the fact that she and Charles had trouble in the bedroom. Diana would record the answers to Morton's questions on a tape, and Colthurst would deliver these tapes to Morton.

"I peddled in with a briefcase in the bicycle basket. And you know, initially, I sat and I read out the questions, but that was too slow for Diana,” he told The Sunday Mirror. "She snatched the questions away from me and then clipped the microphone on to herself and the tape recorder was on and away she went."

How did Colthurst meet writer Andrew Morton?

On the show, Morton befriends Colthurst through parties and casual run-ins, and Morton told Time that it’s not far off from what happened in real life.

“The episode involving me is probably the most authentic because you don’t have to exaggerate much,” he said. “It’s an astonishing story. Here’s a woman who rarely spoke in public unveiling the secrets of her heart, her difficulties inside the royal family, a failed marriage, and her sense of isolation and loneliness.”

They weren't as close in the years before her death.

Apparently, she "exiled everyone associated with helping her produce the Morton book" in 1995, a journalist named Tina Brown wrote in The Diana Chronicles, a 2007 book, per Bustle. But things seemed to get back to normal just before her death.

Colthurst is still alive today.

Colthurst married a woman named Dominique Coles in 1990, and they have two daughters, Leah and Cicely, according to The Sun. They live in Berkshire, England.

"I remember the last conversation I had with her, not long before her death," he wrote in his essay. "She was laughing almost uncontrollably down the other end of the phone. Someone had gifted her a poem engraved on a silver tablet, and she was howling with mirth at their unusual taste. What remains with me is her almost infectious laugh, coupled with her serious desire to help others. She set a high bar for her sons, who have both inherited her natural way with others. Both have her sensitivity and caring. But they are also gutsy and tough and share their mother’s passion for using their roles to do good in the world."

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