The Crown: Who is Michael Straight? Was he really a sleeper agent?
The Crown is known for following real life events that happened surrounding the Royal Family across its three seasons on Netflix. The first episode of season three focuses on the revelation that the Queen’s art adviser Anthony Blunt (played by Samuel West) was a KGB spy. The story contains a number of key players including Michael Straight (played by Paul Hilton) who was the man responsible for revealing the truth about him.
In The Crown season three, episode one, fans were given their first glimpse at the new cast taking on the role of the Royal Family.
Featuring Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, the new series has been much anticipated.
The opening episode entitled Olding was all about a KGB spy who was revealed to be operating at the top of the British establishment.
The outing was about the truth of what happened, as well as the Queen’s misunderstanding that it was Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins).
One of the key figures in revealing the truth was the sleeper agent Michael Straight.
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Who is Michael Straight?
In the opening episode of The Crown, Straight is portrayed as the man who was essential in revealing that Anthony Blunt was in fact as KGB spy during the time he was working in Buckingham Palace.
Viewers watched as Straight handed himself in to the Department of Justice in Washington DC as a member of the spy ring.
The head of the CIA is heard talking to the Director of MI5 about the incident.
He said: “A man by the name of Martin Straight has surrendered himself to the DoJ. He claims to be a sleeper agent working for the Russians.
“He says he has information that will uncover a senior KGB mole at the top of the British establishment.”
A sleeper agent is a spy who has been placed in a target country or organisation to act as a potential asset.
He goes on to reveal he was first approached by the members of the Communist Party while he was studying at Cambridge University.
This leads to the revelation it was the Queen’s art advisor Anthony Blunt who was the spy in question.
The story was based in truth with Straight being one of the most prominent figures to confess to his involvement in espionage.
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The real man was born in 1916 in New York City and he was an American magazine publisher and novelist.
He studied at the University of Cambridge in the mid-1930s when he became a member of the Communist Party.
He then was part of a spy ring formed with members included Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby and KGB recruiter Anthony Blunt.
However, how he actually revealed the information about his involvement in espionage was not quite how it was portrayed in the episode.
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The information emerged after he faced a background check in response to an employment offer in Washington DC.
As part of the process, he revealed what had happened to his friend and member of the presidential inner circle Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr.
He went into further detail about his time as a sleeper agent in his memoir After Long Silence, in which he claimed to have leaked no official information aside from a paper he had written.
There is some dispute around this as according to The Telegraph, the KGB released a file in the late 1990s which showed he had released more under the codename Nigel.
The Crown season 3 is now available to stream on Netflix.
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