Still Watching

The Crown Episode 9: All About the Fashion Show Where Kate Snared William

Julie Miller returns to Still Watching to chat about the infamous charity event, and whether Carole Middleton was as manipulative in real life as she is on the show.
‘The Crown Episode 9 All About the Fashion Show Where Kate Snared William
Justin Downing/Netflix

All it took for Kate Middleton to snag Prince William was apparently a fierce runway walk. On episode nine of The Crown season six, “Hope Street,” the future Princess of Wales proved that she didn’t need any help from her mother, Carole Middleton, to get the attention of the future King of England—what she really needed was a little glitz and glam. Vanity Fair’s Julie Miller returns to Still Watching to spill the deets on the infamous St. Andrews event where Middleton officially charmed her way into William’s heart.

Still Watching cohosts Hillary Busis, Richard Lawson, and Chris Murphy were, of course, fascinated by the display, which Murphy dubs “the most high-stakes fashion show” of all time. “The future of the empire depended on this fashion show,” Busis says. Lawson, though, was baffled by The Crown’s decision to transition from Kate’s runway walk directly into the Queen Mother’s death. 

“What did you think of the juxtaposition of a sexy fashion show, smash cut, Queen Mother dying in a little bed?” he asks. “I just thought that was such a weird way to offset the action of this episode.” While the two events may have felt tonally at odds, Busis notes that in reality, they actually occurred quite close to each other: the fashion show was held March 26, 2002, and the Queen Mother died on March 30 of that year.  “Kate did not kill her by wearing that dress,” says Busis. “But she didn’t not.

While the episode does bid farewell to the Queen Mother, it also marks the return of Salim Daw’s Mohamed Al Fayed, intent on spreading his conspiracy theory that the royal family was involved in the death of his son, Dodi, and Princess Diana—going so far as to request that Diana’s body be exhumed. “I was not expecting to see him again. I thought that that narrative had closed,” says Lawson. But in real life, “Mohamed did not go off quietly into his grief. He really was very vocal about his distrust and dislike for the royal family, which has a sort of tragic lilt to it because he used to be so devoted to the idea of getting in there.” While Al Fayed’s theory was proven incorrect via an independent investigation depicted in the show, the hosts were somewhat chuffed the depiction of Al Fayed in the episode as a madman. “There is no conspiracy—Princess Diana died in a tragic accident,” says Busis. “But did The Crown really need to hammer on that so much, and make him seem so crazy?”

Mohamed Al Fayed  and the Queen Mother’s cameos notwithstanding, the main event of the episode is William and Kate’s budding romance. “It’s fascinating because you start to read about this 2002 charity fashion show that happened at St. Andrews, and there’s mysteriously very little known about what happened behind the scenes,” reveals Miller. According to her, the see-through dress that Kate Middleton wore was eventually auctioned off for charity, but even its designer had no idea how the Middleton came to wear it. “It was designed from a sheer piece of fabric that cost just £40 and was supposed to be a skirt.” It reportedly sold at the auction for £78,000. 

“It was probably the best purchase I’ve ever made. I’ll be honest,” jokes Lawson.

Miller also sheds some light on Carole Middleton’s role in the young couple’s romance. “I spoke to Annie Sulzberger who’s the researcher on The Crown and has been all six seasons,” says Miller. “She said their research team was made up entirely of females, and they desperately wanted to find evidence that Kate didn’t choose St. Andrews for William. So they combed through all the research, and they couldn’t find it at all.  She had never spoken about taking a gap year. She was set up to go to Edinburgh; it had the better arts history program. Her friends were going there.” While Carole may have secretly hoped Kate would find her Prince Charming at St. Andrews, Miller insists that Carole’s pressure was more about status than snagging William. “She thought if Kate were to ascend to the social circle, she would be set up for life.”

For more on William, Kate, and Carole, you can listen to the full episode on “Hope Street” above. And, as always, send questions and comments and musings about The Crown season six part two to Still Watching at