Most of us think we know about Princess Diana’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth – who died Thursday at the age of 96 – from what we see in “The Crown”: Diana alone, outcast, on her own Deep out and drowning in royal pomp; Watching helplessly as her heartless husband continues his extramarital affair and the cold and distant Emperor looks on the other side.
But, like most things, the real story is more complicated.
For starters, Diana was never an outsider. Queen Elizabeth was the godmother of Diana’s younger brother, Charles Spencer, and Diana’s father—Viscount Althorp—was the Queen’s equestrian.
The princess knew how to handle the royals, though Andrew Morton, author of 1992’s “Diana: Her True Story,” points out,Admits that she was afraid of her mother-in-law in the initial days.
“She had formal parenting—leaving a deep curse every time they met—but otherwise kept her distance,” he wrote.
Morton’s book, now widely known as Diana’s “revenge memoir,” reveals sensational details from inside the troubled marriage and shows how Diana and Charles were incompatible from the start.
Diana was 12 years older than her fiancé. Suspecting that Charles had never really ended his affair with Camilla, the princess succumbed to depression and bulimia. No one came to her aid, as royal biographer Ingrid Seward noted in her book “The Queen and Die”.
“From the Queen to the staff looking after Diana, almost everyone blamed her behavior on a ‘bad case of nerves’,” Seward wrote.
After the wedding, Seward reported, the Queen was “understanding Diana’s difficulties” and they developed a strong bond. Diana once told Seward that “I have the best mother-in-law in the world.”
But as Diana and Charles’ relationship grew stronger, so did his relationship with the Queen. Seward wrote of how the monarch became emotionally frightened by the princess’s unscheduled visits: “One footman said, ‘The princess cried three times in half an hour while she was waiting to see you.’ The queen replied, ‘I held her for an hour – and she wept non-stop.'”
Queen Elizabeth apparently wanted to help her daughter-in-law, but didn’t know how. “For Princess Diana, there was an expectation that the Queen would somehow intervene in her marriage to set things right again,” Diana’s personal secretary, Patrick Jeffson, said in the Channel 5 documentary “Two Golden Queens”.
“But there was a problem of communication between two different generations. Between two strong women,” wrote Jeffson. “There was a certain school of traditional royal thought that Diana should stop being silly.”
In her 2022 book, “The Palace Papers,” journalist Tina Brown wrote of the Queen’s “ostrich tendencies”: her tendency to avoid family name confrontations and bury herself in official paperwork instead of facing difficult subjects. Is for.
In a videotape relating to Diana’s voice coach Peter Setelan and aired in the 2017 documentary “Diana in Her Own Words”, the princess is heard telling how she “cried” to ask the Queen for help with her marriage.
“So I went to the top lady and said, ‘I don’t know what to do,'” Diana said. “She said, ‘I don’t know what you should do.’ And that was it. That was the ‘help’.”
Diana’s shock death in a car accident in 1997 shook the royal family to the core. Brown described how the loss of a respected national icon – and the mother of two of her grandchildren, including the future king – was a “painful union of public and private” for the Queen.
Get the latest on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II with The Post’s live coverage
Her role as a symbolic and silent figure was turned on its head. While her initial reaction was to lock herself in Balmoral and console her grandchildren, people demanded otherwise. Tabloid headlines ‘Show us you care!’ She was screaming and called on the Queen to return to London and ordered the Union Jack to be lowered over Buckingham Palace.
The royals refused and stuck to protocol for five days, which decided that Diana was no longer a royal and therefore should not be treated the same. In the end, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened, persuading the Queen to return and quelling tensions by doing a live broadcast to the nation (it was also Downing Street that allowed her to refer to herself as a grandmother). requested).
It is widely accepted that this was a time throughout the Queen’s reign when she misread the mood of the nation. In the 2017 anniversary edition of his biography, Morton wrote, “one of many ironies”. [the queen’s] Life is how Diana’s influence on the royal family is measured by how much the Windsor home is now friendly to newcomers. ,
As Brown said in “The Palace Papers”, the Queen made it clear This should never happen again This The trouble of being Diana’s explosive figure, the overthrow of the British monarchy, the ouster, of being a dangerously popular member of the family other than the queen or heir to the throne.