Princess Diana: 25 Years After Death She Reigns As Pop Icon


Princess Diana, who died tragically in a car crash in Paris 25 years ago Wednesday, remains a figure of popular fascination, with her depiction in recent movies, television series and public displays keeping her memory alive and introducing the princess to a generation that was born after her death.

Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales, casts a doe-eyed glance during an evening reception given by the … [+] West German President Richard von Weizsacker in honor of the British Royal guests in Bonn, Germany, Monday, November 2, 1987.

1987 AP

Key Facts

In 2020, her portrayal by Emma Corrin in Season 4 of Netflix’s megahit The Crown showed young Diana’s earliest days in the royal family after marrying Prince Charles in in 1981. (Some have drawn connections from her sympathetic depiction in The Crown to an unflattering barrage of comments left on the social media account of her ex-husband, Prince Charles, and his second wife, Camilla, from young users claiming to be “Team Diana.”)

The series is such a hit that British culture officials and Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, have called for Netflix to include a disclaimer that plot points in the series have been fictionalized, with Spencer saying, “Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson.”

Last year, Kristen Stewart played the princess in director Pablo Larraín’s film Spencer, which takes place as Diana’s marriage is falling apart over a tumultuous Christmas in 1991 at the Queen’s Sandringham estate, for which Stewart received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress (despite some initial controversy over her casting).

Earlier this month, HBO released the documentary The Princess, which delves into Diana’s life through her relationship with the media using 16 years of footage, including clips of a controversial 1995 interview she gave to BBC Panorama reporter Martin Bashir, who last year was found by an investigation to have deceived and manipulated the princess into taking part in. (After the investigation made its findings public, Diana’s sons, William and Harry, issued harsh statements, and William has insisted that footage from the interview never be used again.)

This summer, the Spencer family tiara Diana wore during her 1981 wedding to Charles was put on display in London for the first time since the 1960s as part of an exhibit of aristocratic tiaras to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.

Last year, William and Harry unveiled a statue of Diana at Kensington Palace, her longtime royal residence, on what would have been her 60th birthday, while one of London’s historic blue plaques was placed at the West London apartment Diana shared with fellow Sloane Ranger friends just before her engagement to Charles.

What To Watch For

Diana will once again be brought to life on screens when Season 5 of The Crown premieres on Netflix in November. Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki will play the princess in a season that will likely show the slow collapse of Diana and Charles’ marriage, and will reportedly feature the controversial BBC Panorama interview in which she candidly discussed Charles’ affair with Camilla and said the famous line, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

Key Background

Princess Diana’s fans lined up flowers and mementos at the south gate of Kensington Palace Wednesday to mark the princess’ death—as they have for the past 25 years—but Diana’s two sons are expected to mark her death privately at home. Harry, who now lives in California with his wife, Meghan Markle, said at a charity polo match last week he wants to spend the anniversary of his mother’s death “with my children, who I wish could have met her.” Harry’s year-old daughter, Lilibet Diana, is named for both Harry’s mother and grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Harry and William gave interviews regarding Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death in 2017 as part of a promotion for a mental health campaign. At the time, William told reporters that it was the only time he would speak candidly about his mother’s death. Diana’s brother Charles Spencer posted a photograph of the flag at Althorp, the Spencer family estate where Diana is buried, lowered to half-staff in mourning. No members of the royal family have made public statements about the anniversary of Diana’s death.

Further Reading

Princess Diana’s Wedding Tiara Goes On Display For Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee (Forbes)

Here’s Why Harry And Meghan Named Their Daughter Lilibet (Forbes)

Princes William And Harry Slam ‘Deceitful’ BBC Interview With Princess Diana (Forbes)

Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ Should Include Disclaimer That It’s Fiction, U.K. Culture Official Says (Forbes)

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