The True Story of Sydney Johnson, "The Crown"'s Hidden Gem


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Season 5 of Netflix’s “The Crown” is notably tackling the highs and lows of the royal household all through the Nineties. Prominent occasions like Princess Diana’s romance with Dodi Fayed and the queen’s “annus horribilis” declaration in 1992 are just a few royal highlights that dominate the present, and but lesser recognized tales and folks concerned with the royal household have additionally made their strategy to the highlight.

Episode three of the season, titled “Mou Mou,” is devoted to Sydney Johnson, an individual who viewers might need briefly noticed in “The Crown”‘s season three episode “Dangling Man” as the previous King Edward VIII, later often known as the Duke of Windsor, was on his dying mattress. In actual life, Johnson served the duke for over 30 years and was a treasured member of his royal employees till the duke’s dying in 1972.

As you are binge-watching “The Crown” and researching the historic folks and occasions portrayed within the present, learn on to be taught extra in regards to the life and legacy of Johnson, the royal household’s hidden gem.

Who Was Sydney Johnson?

Born in 1923 on the Bahamas island of Andros, Johnson was simply 16 years outdated when he was employed by the Duke of Windsor and his spouse, Wallis Simpson, to be a seaside attendant at their authorities home residence in Nassau, in keeping with Netflix’s “Beneath the Crown: The True Story of Sydney Johnson.” At the time, the duke was governor of the Bahamas, however when his time period resulted in 1945, he had plans to maneuver again to Europe. When the duke and duchess made the choice to maneuver to Paris in 1952, he was critical about bringing Johnson alongside, and he did.

With the duke’s Bois de Boulogne mansion as his new residence, Johnson was promoted to footman in 1960, which consisted of him intimately aiding the duke and duchess with on a regular basis duties and accompanying him throughout journey abroad, in keeping with Vanity Fair. He was later appointed to be the duke’s private valet, however his duties and relationship with the duke surpassed merely driving the royal round. Over the years, the 2 turned very shut, and Johnson even helped the duke pick garments for the day primarily based on a numerical system they created collectively.

When the duke died in 1972, Johnson was devastated. As preparations had been being ready, Johnson obtained $30,000 (the equal to $200,000 as we speak) from the duke’s fortune, one thing the duke particularly detailed in his will earlier than his dying, in keeping with Netflix’s “Beneath the Crown: The True Story of Sydney Johnson” featurette. Shortly after the duke’s dying that very same 12 months, Johnson skilled extra tragedy when his spouse died. Now a single father to his 4 youngsters, Johnson allegedly requested the duchess for a while off, however she was not receptive. “The Duchess wished to dismiss him. At that point [Johnson’s] spouse died, and he requested for extra time without work to take care of his youngsters. She fired him,” Hugo Vickers, creator of “The Crown Dissected,” informed Time.

What Happened to Sydney Johnson After the Duke of Windsor Died?

Shunned by the duchess and in want of labor, Johnson discovered work as a waiter on the Ritz Hotel in Paris, the place he met Mohamed Al-Fayed, as reported by Vanity Fair. Though it took a while for Al-Fayed to heat as much as Johnson as a consequence of his personal racial biases, the businessman ultimately employed Johnson as his private butler in his Champs-Élysées dwelling in Paris, per People.

By the mid-Nineteen Eighties, Al-Fayed had an curiosity in restoring the duke and duchess’s Paris dwelling and took on the mansion’s 50-year lease after the duchess died in 1984. With a price range of $2 million, Al-Fayed’s purpose was to revive the mansion, which he later renamed Villa Windsor, to its unique state and switch it right into a museum crammed with royal memorabilia, in keeping with The New York Times. Johnson, crammed with 32 years of knowledge residing with the duke and duchess, assisted Al-Fayed through the restoration. “Sidney is a dictionary. He’s a really cultured man. He received all this stuff out of bins and safes and storage rooms, and he is aware of their historical past,” the businessman revealed to the publication in 1986.

Johnson lived to see the reopening of the Villa Windsor on Dec. 10, 1989, and was quoted saying on the occasion, “I really feel on high of the world. The restoration is so genuine I anticipate to see the duchess stepping down the staircase asking, ‘How do I look?” Just a bit over one month after the opening, Johnson died on the age of 69 on Jan. 17, 1990, per The Associated Press.

Though it has been over 30 years since Johnson left the world, his impactful life will memorialized in “The Crown.” Catch season 5 of the acclaimed sequence streaming now on Netflix.

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