NPR

'The Crown' Says One Dance Changed History. The Truth Isn't So Simple

What the Netflix show gets right — and wrong — about Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Ghana in 1961.
Queen Elizabeth II dances with Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah at a ball in Accra, Ghana, in 1961. Source: Central Press/Getty Images

It was a highlight of the latest season of the Netflix series The Crown, which chronicles the early years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign: The year is 1961, the Cold War is heating up and the queen (played by Claire Foy), feeling self-conscious after learning that First Lady Jackie Kennedy (Jodi Balfour) called her "incurious" at a dinner party, decides to take a more proactive role in dealing with Ghana, a former colony whose new leader, Kwame Nkrumah (Danny Sapani), appears to be getting too cozy with the Soviets.

Her solution: A dance with Nkrumah at a ball in the capital, Accra. The foxtrot, specifically, to the extreme, hilarious consternation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (Anton Lesser).

It's a high-stakes political gamble that could decide the balance of Soviet power in Africa, which in the early 1960s was

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