On 16 November, the first volume of series six of The Crown was released on Netflix. Not only has it stirred up controversy regarding its depiction of recent historical events, but the series has also sparked the public's interest in the infamous yachts associated with the royal family's timeline.
The final instalment of The Crown features two ladies and two yachts, all of which are indelibly linked to Dodi Al-Fayed. It captures the simmering romance between Princess Diana and Dodi – a film producer and son of billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed – as well as Dodi's fiancée, Kelly Fisher. In the drama, the Princess of Wales is whisked away to the former Harrods owner's villa (and superyacht) in the south of France, where she enjoys a summer on the continent with sons Prince William and Prince Harry in 1997.
The series shows the group on what was Mohamed Al-Fayed's yacht, the 63.8-metre Codecasa which was known as Jonikal (later Bash, now Isabell Princess of the Seas). Understandably, with the People's Princess aboard, the yacht was heavily photographed by the paparazzi – leading to the creation of that iconic Princess Diana yacht photo. The camera also pans to a smaller yacht we can assume is the 20-metre Baglietto Cujo, a yacht the Al-Fayed's spent a lot of time on and which sadly sank earlier this year.
Wondering what happened to Jonikal? If the series was filmed on the original boat? Where the set location was? BOAT answers all your yacht-related questions surrounding the latest series.
That Princess Diana yacht picture
There are many iconic images of Princess Diana – not least the shot of her in the "revenge dress" – but up there are the images of her sporting a range of low-backed swimsuits from her summer in St. Tropez. Perhaps the most memorable is Princess Diana sitting on the diving board of Jonikal. The series recreates the moment her photo was captured, legs swaying above the oscillating sea, toes pointed ballerina-esque. It also draws on her plea to the paparazzi to give her boys some privacy as she meets them mid-sea on her tender, stealing the show in her leopard-print swimsuit.Read More/The most spectacular yachts in film and TV
The whereabouts of Jonikal today
The yacht carries great significance knowing Dodi and Princess Diana were pictured there just weeks before their fatal car accident. It belonged to Dodi's father and, during the series, Princess Diana and Dodi are portrayed sharing intimate moments on board: her, looking up from the piano she is playing, doe-eyed; him, opening up about his engagement and the struggles with his father. There is also the scene where they have an ice cube fight between decks; the scene where Dodi's siblings and Princess Diana's children jump off the diving board; where the pair share what would've been an intimate kiss, had the photographer on his motor yacht not snapped it.
It was successful telecoms entrepreneur Bassim Haidar who later bought the yacht in 2021. The fact that it’s the former Jonikal is a source of pride for Haidar, who told BOAT: "I really loved Lady Diana. Whenever anyone comes on board I always show them where the famous picture was taken." The yacht was sold in August this year.Read More/On board with serial entrepreneur Bassim Haidar, owner of the Bash fleet
The yacht the series was filmed on, Titania
The Crown was not filmed on Isabell Princess of the Seas (ex-Jonikal), but rather on the 72-metre Lurssen superyacht Titania. The yacht, which was delivered in 2006, is owned by British businessman John Caudwell. Back in 2021, Caudwell commented on the news via his social media accounts, stating that he "cannot confirm or deny any filming secrets" but hinted that viewers should "keep your eyes peeled towards the end of season five and start of season six."
The refit in 2012 amped up her charter facilities – adding a second owner’s cabin on the upper deck, a gym on the sundeck and an extension to the stern to accommodate a beach club (which can be spotted in the series) with a full water park that floats off the stern.Read More/On board 73m Lürssen Titania with British tycoon John Caudwell
The other yacht (and the other woman)
Jonikal is not the only yacht to have featured in The Crown series six, filmed in Mallorca. At one point, the camera also pans to another yacht the Al-Fayed's spent a lot of time on, the 20-metre Cujo. The drama shows Dodi's fiancée at the time, Fisher, getting escorted by tender past the yacht Dodi and Princess Diana are on (Jonikal), and instead shuttled away to what Fisher refers to as "the smaller yacht".
In August this year, the real-life Cujo sunk around 35 kilometres off the coast of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France.Read More/20m Baglietto yacht Cujo "lost" at sea following incident
Other yachts featured in the series
Christina O had 122-metre shoes to fill in season five, playing Alexander – the converted cruise ship where Princess Diana and Charles celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Delivered in 1965 by German shipyard Lubecker Flender Werke, the superyacht hosted the royals and their sons princes William and Harry a year before the couple separated.
A replica of the Royal Yacht Britannia also starred in the fifth Netflix series. Britannia was used as Queen Elizabeth II’s royal yacht from 1954 to 1997, hosting up to 250 guests at a time while being operated by 21 officers and 250 crew from the Royal Navy. It was decommissioned as a cost-cutting measure by the UK government in 1997.Read More/Fact file: Five things you didn't know about legendary superyacht Christina O
The second part of The Crown will premiere on Netflix from 14 December.