Balmoral is one of the Monarch’s estates, and a place for weeding out newcomers apparently (Picture: Getty Images)
The drama isn’t letting up four seasons into the historical drama, with this new season introducing Gillian Anderson as the first British female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales.
These two new additions undergo something called the Balmoral Test in an earlier episode of the season.
What is this, and is it based on truth?
What is the Balmoral test and did it actually exist?
The Balmoral test is – by many accounts from historians and interviews with those who seemingly underwent the tests like Diana – based in truth.
Guests invited to Balmoral – the Aberdeenshire royal estate owned by the monarch – would essentially be scrutinised and judged based on how they acted and adapted to various social settings and expectations.
One big part of the test, it is reported, involves a chair which once belonged to Queen Victoria.
In his book Diana: Her True Story, based on interviews with Princess Diana herself, Andrew Morton writes about this test.
Excerpts read: ‘Ever since Queen Victoria bought the estate in 1848 it has had a special place in the affections of the royal family. However, the very quirks and obscure family traditions which have accrued over the years can intimidate newcomers.
‘”Don’t sit there” they chorus at an unfortunate guest foolish enough to try and sit in a chair in the drawing-room which was last used by Queen Victoria… Those who successfully navigate this social minefield, popularly known as the Balmoral test, are accepted by the royal family.
Emma Corrin steps into the role of Diana, as she meets Charles and the rest of the family (Picture: Des Willie/Netflix)
‘The ones who fail vanish from royal favour as quickly as the Highland mists come and go.’
Further accounts mirror this sentiment.
In her book, The Diana Chronicles, former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker Tina Brown expands on the Balmoral test ‘social minefield.’
She writes: ‘No one is allowed to sit in the deceased monarch’s favourite chair, still positioned where she liked it in the drawing room. On top of that, there is a strictly enforced dress code involving constant outfit changes; and an unchanging set of activities involving early mornings and picnics and mealtimes.’
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