Ever since Princess Diana made her on-screen debut in the beginning of last season, The Crown has fleshed out her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II in some intriguing ways. In season 4, after getting back from the emotional rollercoaster that was her Australian tour with Charles, Diana is at her wits’ end and requests an audience with the queen. She opens up about her marital problems with Charles and explains how he resents her for eclipsing him within the press. Removed from offering any comfort, the queen is coldly unreceptive, asking Diana: “Is it possible that there is a a part of you that is having fun with your personal success slightly an excessive amount of?” She also seems utterly horrified when Diana hugs her, a moment of physical affection that speaks to the princess’s deep loneliness.
In season 5, Diana is gone the purpose of attempting to squeeze any affection out of the Windsors. As a substitute, she wages “all-out war” on the firm, via a series of unprecedented press engagements that begin with a tell-all book, and culminate along with her infamous 1995 interview on the BBC series Panorama—all of which changes the dynamic of her fraught relationship with the Queen.
So how accurate is the depiction of the queen and Diana’s relationship in The Crown? Read on for the more complicated truth.
Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana attend the opening of Parliament in November 1982.
Princess Diana Archive//Getty Images
Diana’s relationship with the queen was initially friendly.
Although she’s sometimes described as a “commoner” and an outsider, Lady Diana Spencer was in truth no stranger to the royal family. The Spencers were an upper-class family with longstanding ties to the royals—Diana’s grandmothers were each ladies-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother—so Diana and her sisters grew up in the identical circles as Charles and his siblings. Diana had already met the queen before she began dating her son, and royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote in 2001 that because the couple’s relationship blossomed, the queen “never directly addressed the query of his marriage, but by nod and nuance, she made it clear she approved of Diana.” The monarch also looked as if it would grossly overestimate Diana’s ability to regulate to royal life. In a letter written shortly after the couple’s engagement announcement, the queen notes, “I trust that Diana will find living here less of a burden than is anticipated.” As a substitute, the soon-to-be princess struggled with bulimia and loneliness within the months leading as much as her wedding.
In accordance with Andrew Morton’s 1992 biography, Diana: Her True Story—In Her Own Words, Diana’s relationship with the queen was friendly—no less than compared to her relationship with the Queen Mother, who kept her at arm’s length. “Nonetheless,” Morton writes, “it was governed by the indisputable fact that she was married to her older son and a future Monarch. Within the early days, Diana was quite simply frightened of her mother-in-law. She kept the formal obsequies—dropping a deep curtsy every time they met—but otherwise kept her distance.”
The queen entrusted Diana with representing her at royal events very early.
In 1982, shortly after Charles and Diana were married, Grace Kelly—aka Grace, Princess of Monaco—died. Diana had encountered Grace at a gala the previous yr and the 2 had bonded, so she went to Charles and asked if it will be possible for her to represent the queen at Grace’s funeral.
In accordance with Morton, each Charles and palace staff told her it was unlikely she can be allowed to go. “I went to her private secretary, who was then Philip Moore, who said that he didn’t think it will be possible because I’d only been within the job three or 4 months,” Diana recalled to Morton. “I went to the queen and I said, ‘You already know, I’d prefer to do that,’ and he or she said ‘I don’t see why not. If you should do that, you’ll be able to.’”
Though Diana was still recent to her royal role and just 21 years old on the time, the queen was right to trust her. It was her first solo overseas trip as a representative of the royal family, and he or she won praise for her “dignified manner on the highly charged and at times mawkish funeral service,” per Morton.
Diana attends Princess Grace of Monaco’s funeral on September 18, 1982.
How did the Queen react to Charles and Diana’s split?
Because the pressures of her high profile and troubled marriage began to get to Diana, she felt “extremely isolated” by the royal family, who “constantly misunderstood” her, in line with a letter she wrote to her friend Dudley Poplak in 1991.
Although there is no reports of a scene quite as brutal because the one The Crown depicts, Seward writes that Diana would seem unannounced on the palace as her marriage crumbled:
At first, the Queen took a tolerant view of those unscheduled visits. “Diana was normally in rather a lot higher mood when she left than she was when she arrived,” one in every of the Queen’s staff recalled.
In time, though, Elizabeth got here to dread the meetings. After one session a footman said, “The Princess cried 3 times in a half an hour while she was waiting to see you.” The Queen replied, “I had her for an hour—and he or she cried nonstop.”
In a transcript of her interview with Morton, Diana recalled a conversation by which the Queen “indicated to [her] that the rationale why our marriage had gone downhill was because Prince Charles was having such a difficult time with my bulimia.” In that moment, Diana explained, she realized the royal family saw her bulimia because the reason for her problems with Charles, slightly than a symptom of them.
Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince Harry rejoice the Queen Mother’s birthday in August 1992.
Tim Graham//Getty Images
However the queen wasn’t wholly unsupportive. Identical to Prince Philip, she did offer support to Diana within the wake of the split. “She [found] one perhaps slightly unlikely ally on the palace within the queen,” Morton wrote, “whose understanding and helpful attitude did much to encourage Diana to soldier on.”
Did Diana really warn the queen about her Panorama interview?
One of the crucial anticipated episodes of season 5 focuses on Diana’s extraordinary interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir, during which she spoke openly about her separation from Prince Charles, her treatment by the royal family, and her private struggles with mental illness. During this Panorama appearance she infamously said, “There have been three of us on this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” referencing Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
In The Crown’s depiction, Diana gives the queen a heads up that the Panorama interview is coming before it airs, giving her a probability to organize. This appears to be a very fictional incident; there is no evidence from any historical accounts that Diana actually warned the queen about her interview.
Did the queen learn anything from Diana?
In accordance with Morton, the queen took no less than one significant lesson from her relationship with Diana. Accurately or not, the general public perception was that she didn’t make much of an effort to welcome her recent daughter-in-law to the family. “One in all the various ironies of [the queen’s] life is that Diana’s impact on the royal family is measured by how far more accommodating the home of Windsor is now to newcomers,” Morton wrote within the 2017 anniversary edition of his biography. “It’s noticeable that the queen regularly joined Prince William’s bride Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, within the early days of her Royal profession. Actually lessons have been learned—but at a price.”
What role did the queen play in Charles and Diana’s divorce?
Within the series, Queen Elizabeth is initially proof against the concept of Charles and Diana divorcing. While it isn’t clear exactly how the timeline played out in real life, we do know that in December of 1995, the queen wrote to each Charles and Diana urging them to divorce.
These letters got here just weeks after the Panorama interview, and looked as if it would represent the queen reaching the top of her tether, after an increasingly ugly back-and-forth between the couple had severely impacted the general public’s view of the monarchy. Within the letters, in line with the Washington Post, the queen “expressed her ire over the undignified conduct and apprehensive about how the couple’s public bickering would traumatize their sons, William, 13, and Harry, 11.”
During her Panorama interview, Diana claimed that she didn’t desire a divorce, but additionally didn’t suggest that she planned to fight Charles if he did. “I await my husband’s decision of which way we’re all going to go,” she told Bashir.
“After considering the current situation the Queen wrote to each the prince and princess earlier this week and gave them her view, supported by the Duke of Edinburgh, that an early divorce is desirable,” a palace spokesman said on the time, per the BBC. “The Prince of Wales also takes this view and has made this known to the Princess of Wales because the letter. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will proceed to do all they will to assist and support the Prince and Princess of Wales, and most particularly their children, on this difficult period.”
Emma Dibdin is a contract author based in Los Angeles who writes about culture, mental health, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and might find the queer subtext in literally anything.