Anyone else not have one single clue that Prince Charles was caught in an avalanche until they watched The Crown season 4? Me neither, and while the show did cover the devastating accident that tragically killed Charles’s close friend Hugh Lindsay, there’s actually a lot that Netflix left out. Including the fact that Hugh’s widow, Sarah, specifically asked creators not to include the avalanche in the series but they did it anyway.
If you’re looking for a little more information about exactly what happened on March 10, 1988 (yep, there was an official inquiry into whether Charles was at fault), we gotcha.
How Did Charles Know Hugh Lindsay?
Thirty-four-year-old Major Lindsay was a former equerry to the Queen, while his wife, Sarah—who was pregnant at the time of his death—worked in the Buckingham Palace press office.
Charles Was Extremely Upset About Hugh’s Death
While exact details about what happened on March 10, 1988, are sparse, we do know this: Prince Charles joined Major Hugh Lindsay, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer-Tomkinson, and a Swiss guide for an outing near Klosters resort, where they were vacationing. At 2:45 p.m., an avalanche unexpectedly came down Gotschnagrat Mountain, tragically killing Major Lindsay, who Charles tried to dig out of the snow with his bare hands.
According to eyewitnesses from a Guardian report in 1988, Prince Charles was airlifted off the slope by a helicopter and was “visibly distressed,” while local reporters said he was “weeping.”
Note: Princess Diana and the Duchess of York were also on the trip but did not ski that day. Here they are photographed on March 9, one day before the accident:
Hugh’s Widow, Sarah, Asked Netflix Not to Cover the Accident
Sarah told the Sunday Telegraph (via The Guardian) that she asked The Crown not to feature her husband’s death on the show:
“I was horrified when I was told [the episode] was happening and was very concerned about the impact on my daughter. I’m very upset by it and I’m dreading people seeing it. I wrote to them asking them not to do it, not to use the accident. I suppose members of the royal family have to grin and bear it, but for me it’s a very private tragedy.”
Apparently, producers replied to her with “a very kind letter” saying “they understood [her] concerns” but ended up including the avalanche anyway. In fact, they even named the episode “Avalanche.”
Charles Is Godfather to Hugh’s Daughter
After Hugh’s tragic death, Charles became godfather to Hugh and Sarah’s daughter, Alice. Meanwhile, Sarah says Princess Diana was extremely supportive, telling the Sunday Telegraph in 2008:
“The Princess was fantastic. She used to ring me every Sunday evening. She was a dear friend—someone I could ring at midnight and say, ‘Life is pretty grim.’ The Princess of Wales instinctively knew when I might be feeling down—the school holidays and so on. She always had nice ideas about how to cheer me up.”
What Happened After the Avalanche?
Hugh’s body was brought home to England on March 11, 1988, and Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and the Duchess of York stood by Sarah as her husband’s coffin passed.
British tabloids speculated that Charles might somehow be held responsible for the avalanche by Swiss authorities, but the AP reported on June 27, 1988, that he had been cleared of any fault. One year later in February 1989, Charles returned to Gotschnagrat for another ski trip. At the time, the AP reported, “He hardly appeared to look when the cabin passed near the spot.”
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