The Crown season 5 chronicles the story of Sydney Johnson, a valet who worked for the Duke of Windsor and Mohamed Al-Fayed. Johnson met Edward VIII when he visited the Bahamas as governor during World War II. Edward VIII asked Johnson to work for him and his wife, Wallis Simpson, as his valet full-time at the Villa Windsor in Paris. 

Johnson served as the Duke of Windsor’s valet for three decades. He continued serving the Duchess after the Duke’s death. However, Johnson resigned from his post after Wallis Simpson denied his request to leave early. After his wife’s death, Johnson needed to take care of his four children. 

Johnson reportedly died of natural causes in Paris in January 1990

Johnson returned to Villa Windsor as the employee of Mohamed Al-Fayed, the businessman who purchased the property after Simpson’s death. Al-Fayed valued Johnson’s knowledge about royal matters. He said, per The New York Times:

“Sydney is a dictionary. He is a very cultured man. He got all these things out of boxes and safes and storage rooms, and he knows their history.”

Sydney died of natural causes in Paris, France, in January 1990. His last public appearance was at the grand opening of Al-Fayed’s renovated Villa Windsor. Johnson said:

“I feel on top of the world. The restoration is so authentic I expect to see the Duchess stepping down the staircase asking, ‘How do I look?’”

In Johnson’s obituary shared by Associated Press, Al-Fayed described Johnson as a ‘gentlemen’s gentleman.’ “We shall miss him very much,” Al-Fayed added.