After three seasons and several decades, (two great, one a bit dodgy) the storyline of The Crown has finally reached one of the most pivotal eras of Queen Elizabeth's reign: the Princess Diana years. The people's princess (played by newcomer Emma Corrin) has finally entered the plot, and as expected, her admission into The Firm stirs up quite a bit of drama within Buckingham Palace.
As seen in The Crown, Diana's time as a royal was marked with chaos and heartache from the start, spent clashing with her in-laws and dealing with infidelity from her husband Prince Charles. The Netflix series goes to great lengths to accurately depict the terse relationship between Diana and the Royal Family, but the best way to understand the personal strain of marrying into The Firm is to go straight to the source. And in Diana: In Her Own Words, the late royal held nothing back.
Released in 2017, In Her Own Words follows Diana's personal struggles as a royal and informed much of the content seen on The Crown. The documentary features candid conversations with the late princess, discussing everything from her anxiety at the prospect of becoming the Queen's daughter-in-law to the eating disorder that developed shortly before she married into the family. Footage of Diana had been retrieved from private sessions with her vocal coach Peter Settelen between 1992 and 1993 and gathered to make the film. Many close to both Diana and the Royal Family objected to the release of the footage; Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, was vocal about his concern that the project would dredge up painful memories for Prince William and Prince Harry, and others felt that the footage wasn't meant to be shared with the public.
Nonetheless, the documentary was released for the world to see. Throughout the project, Diana shared her unique perspective as the black sheep of the Royal Family, providing insight into life within the walls of Kensington Palace. In Her Own Words was full of revelations from start to finish. We learned that Sarah Spencer, not Diana, was initially the object of Charles' affections. The princess also divulged that her struggle with bulimia began weeks before her wedding; an offhanded remark from her then-fiancé sent her spiralling down a dark path of disordered eating. The documentary even addressed the ongoing rumours of infidelity between Diana and Charles at the time. With her own mouth, Diana admitted to being in love with her former bodyguard Barry Mannakee.
Perhaps more than any other documentary released about the late royal, In Her Own Words paints a clear picture of Diana's unique experience in The Firm. Watching the documentary more than 20 years after her death while seeing Corrin portray Diana on The Crown may be surreal, but each project is a reminder that the story of the People's Princess is one that will never be forgotten.
Season four of The Crown is now available for streaming, only on Netflix.