The Crown: What the series got wrong about Queen’s ‘historical’ dance

In series two of The Crown, Claire Foy plays a young Queen Elizabeth II, chronicling the early years of the late monarch’s reign. One episode was dedicated to Elizabeth’s trip to Ghana, which was decided upon because the former colony’s new leader, Kwame Nkrumah, seemed to be strengthening his country’s relationship with the Soviet Union.

Queen Elizabeth’s solution to this was to have a dance with the President at a ball in Ghana’s capital, Accra. The foxtrot, specifically.

The Crown depicted the visit, and particularly the dance, as a success. It is suggested that in exchange for a photo with the Queen, the Ghanaian President will “come back to the fold” and distance his country from the Russians.

It appeared, according to The Crown, that the foxtrot changed the course of history: Ghana remained a part of the Commonwealth.

Historian Hugo Vickers, writer of The Crown: Truth & Fiction: An Analysis of the Netflix Series, previously claimed while speaking to “She [Queen Elizabeth] went there [Ghana] for very serious reasons.

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“Nkrumah was flirting with the Russians to some extent and she wanted to keep Ghana in the Commonwealth and she did.”

However, various Ghanaian historians have hit out at The Crown’s depiction of the dance, claiming that its version of events wasn’t exactly true.

Referring to the episode, historian and former mayor of Accra Nat Nuno-Amarteifio told NPR in an interview: “Well, that’s nice. It’s a lot of bull***.”

The Queen did dance with President Nkrumah, but it wasn’t the pivotal political moment that Netflix made it out to be, according to Mr Nuno-Amarteifio.


He said: “I’m surprised that the dance has attained this retroactive reputation. Nobody talked about it then.”

As for the politics at the time, The Crown’s depiction of Ghana’s closeness to the USSR was dramatised by a scene in which a portrait of the Queen was taken down in the Ghanaian parliament building and replaced with one of Lenin.

Although President Nkrumah did tour eastern Europe, his relationship with the Soviet Union was not extreme, according to the expert.

Mr Nuno-Amarteifio continued: “Our roots with Russian communism were more intellectual than anything else.

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“There was nothing visceral about it. Lenin wasn’t a personality that we associated with liberty or freedom. If anything, 99 percent of Ghanaians wouldn’t have known who Lenin was.”

John Parker, a historian at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, added that President Nkrumah’s ties to socialism were ideological and not linked to any specific foreign policy agreements with the USSR.

He said: “The British Government was certainly concerned to limit Soviet influence in ex-colonies.

“Overseas tours by the Queen were designed broadly to strengthen Commonwealth links.”

Furthermore, socialism in Ghana wasn’t working the way citizens hoped it would. Mr Nuno-Amarteifio explained: “If the Queen was brave to come to Ghana, he was also brave to welcome her, because it exposed him to tremendous embarrassment should anything happen. The whole world would be watching.”

He added: “It was a young white woman dancing with an African. What do you expect me to do, applaud?”

President Nkrumah is considered to be one of Africa’s most influential leaders and is thought to have helped usher in an era of independence for Ghana.

He managed to bring the country independence in 1957 by passing legislation that saw Ghana become the first colony in Sub-Saharan Africa – after South Africa – to become self-governing.

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