HAGIOGRAPHY

Princess Diana Would’ve Been “A Nightmare!” as a Grandmother and Other Such Micro Revelations From William and Harry’s Documentary

We watched this lovingly made piece of hagiography so you didn’t have to.


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“One lesson I’ve learned is never let them in too far because it’s very difficult to get them back out again,” Prince William says of the media in the new HBO documentary, Diana, Our Mother, about the late Princess Diana. The message should serve as a warning: those looking for juicy reveals or untold secrets about Diana won’t find them in this glowing remembrance of the princess through her sons’ eyes. Amid dozens of TV documentaries, new books, and re-releases in honor of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, Diana, Our Mother stood out for snagging the first-ever interview with Princes William and Harry. However, the hourlong-plus special revealed few unknown details about the Princess’s life—it’s more hagiography, though that might not be surprising with William and Harry’s involvement. Instead, the facts of life, mainly her charity work, get rehashed by the princes, which is still a true first. And one can always read between the lines. We break down the key takeaways from tonight.

Diana’s famously infamous “naughty” side.

Diana was known for breaking down barriers and defying the royal family, and the Princes remember Diana as a similarly mischievous parent. Prince Harry remembers that she often gave the advice: “You can be as naughty as you want, just don’t get caught.” She also once surprised a preteen Prince William with Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford waiting at the top of the stairs for him.

There’s some outfit porn.

No doubt serious Royal-philes will have a field day with any new outfits, but we also get some good shots of William and Harry’s matching clover-green, striped red, and equestrian ensembles. “I would love to ask her now because I genuinely think she got satisfaction in dressing William and myself up in the most bizarre outfits,” Harry says. “Also shiny shoes.”

A young Diana

Many of Diana’s friend speak for the first time in the documentary, such as Harry Herbert, who met her at Balmoral playing golf: “She certainly had a big impact,” he says. I’m sure my shot was violently hooked.” He explained of her global fandom, “They’re all having the ninth green Balmoral moment that I had.”

Also revealed are photographs of Diana as a nanny at age 14, when she would read trashy romance novels and wear men’s shirts. (She also had a penchant for Enya.) Her lady-in-waiting, Anne Beckwith-Smith, called her entry into public life “a baptism of fire.”

The Definitive Guide to the Most Fashionable Royal Kids, Beyond Princes Louis and George and Princess Charlotte

Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella of Monaco, now 2-year-olds, are the children of Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife, Princess Charlene. Although Princess Gabriella is the older twin, her brother, Prince Jacques, is the heir apparent. The twins are pictured here with their parents during the annual Christmas gifts distribution at Monaco Palace last December.

Pascal Le Segretain

Thirteen-year-old Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange, is the heir apparent to the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ throne. She and her younger sisters, Princess Alexia, age 12, and Princess Ariane, age 10, are the daughters of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The sisters are pictured here at Kagerplassen in Warmond, Netherlands.

Patrick van Katwijk

Countess Luana and Countess Zaria of Orange-Nassau with their mother, Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau. The young countesses are the daughter of the late Prince Frisco of Orange-Nassau, a younger brother of King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands.

Julian Parker

Leonor, Princess of Asturias, is 11 years old and the heir apparent to the Spanish throne. She and her younger sister, 10-year-old Infanta Sofía, are the daughters of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain. Here, the sisters attend Princess Sofía’s first communion.

Fotonoticias

HRH The Crown Prince of Morocco is 13 years old, and he is the oldest son of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and his wife, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco. Here the young prince welcomes former French president Francois Hollande to Morocco, a former French colony, in 2013.

AFP

Fifteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth is the heir apparent to the Belgian throne and is the eldest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde. The young royal became next in line in succession only after her grandfather, King Albert II, abdicated his throne for health reasons in 2013.

Patrick van Katwijk

Prince Hisahito of Japan, a 10-year-old prince, is a dapper young man and often seen wearing a suit. He is the youngest child and only son of Fumihito, Prince Akishino and Kiko, Princess Akishino. The young royal is third in line to become Emperor, behind his uncle and father. Here, the young prince visits Nagasaki with his family in December of last year.

The Asahi Shimbun

Prince Hisahito’s eldest sister, Princess Mako, recently announced her engagement to a commoner, which will result in the young princess losing her royal status. Pre-1947, the decree that forbids women in the royal family to inherit the throne—or even remain a royal—if they marry a commoner did not exist.

Princess Estelle of Sweden, now 5 years old, is the elder child and only daughter of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband, Prince Daniel. She is the second in line of succession to the Swedish throne. Here she is attending the 40th birthday of her mother at Solliden Palace in Borgholm, Sweden.

Patrick van Katwijk

One-and-a-half-year-old Prince Oscar, Duke of Skåne, is the youngest child and only son of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband, Prince Daniel. He is the third in line of succession, after his mother and sister, to the Swedish throne. Here he is attending the 40th birthday of his mother at Solliden Palace in Borgholm, Sweden.

Andreas Rentz

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden welcomed Prince Gabriel into the world just this last August. The baby prince is sixth in line to the Swedish throne, after his older brother, Prince Carl Philip.

photo@royalcourt.se

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden carries his 18-month-old son, Prince Alexander, to the royal palace in Stockholm as they prepared for Crown Princess Victoria’s birthday festivities this past July.

Patrick van Katwijk

Prince Christian of Denmark is the eldest child of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. He is the grandson of Queen Margrethe II and the second in line to the Danish throne, after his father. Here the young prince attends an equestrian event in July in Denmark.

Patrick van Katwijk

Ten-year-old Princess Isabella is the eldest child of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. She is the granddaughter of Queen Margrethe II and third in line to the Danish throne, after her father and brother. Here the young princess attends her grandmother’s 77th birthday celebration in Denmark with her mother.

Patrick van Katwijk

Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine of Denmark are 6-year-old twins. Prince Vincent is the elder of the two, and he is fourth in line to the Danish throne; Princess Josephine is sixth. The twins are pictured last summer at the Grasten Castle in Denmark.

Luca Teuchmann

Prince Nikolai of Denmark, Count of Monpezat, climbs aboard the royal ship Dannebrog for his 18th-birthday celebrations in Copenhagen. He is the first son of Prince Joachim of Denmark and his ex-wife, the Countess of Frederiksborg. Here he is being tailed by step-sister Princess Athena.

Patrick van Katwijk

Prince Philip of Serbia and his wife, Danica Marinkovic, debuted their new son in early March. Prince Stefan is held close by his mother in the Royal Palace of Belgrade, Serbia. Crown Prince of Serbia, Alexander Karadjordjevic, announced the news of his grandson’s birth on social media on February 28.

Srdjan Stevanovic

Crown Prince of Haakon of Norway and the Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway attend the Nordic World Ski Championshop with their two children, heir apparent Prinvess Ingrid Alexander, age 13, and Prince Sverre Magnus, age 11.

Trond Tandberg

Thailand’s Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, pictured center, is the son of Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkunis, better known as King Rama X, and his third wife, Princess Srirasmi Suwadee. The young heir to the throne is now 12 years old.

AFP

Princess Amalia of Luxembourg is now 3 years old, but here she is the day her parents, Prince Felix of Luxembourg and Princess Claire of Luxembourg, left the hospital and presented her to the world. She is third in line of succession for the crown of Luxembourg and has a younger brother, Prince Liam, born in 2016.

Hannelore Foerster

Princess Madeleine of Sweden and her husband welcomed their third baby, Princess Adrienne Josephine Alice, Princess of Sweden and Duchess of Blekinge, in March. The royal mom Instagrammed this candid shot of Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas cuddling with their new baby sister, in Stockholm.

The 4-year-old prince is the eldest child of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. He is third in line for the British throne, behind his father and then grandfather, Charles, Prince of Wales. Here he departs the Berlin military office in 2017 after an official tour of Poland and Germany.

Chris Jackson

The 2-year-old princess is the younger child and only daughter of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She is fourth in line for the British throne, behind her brother, Prince George; her father; and her grandfather, Charles, Prince of Wales. Here she departs the Berlin military office in 2017 after an official tour of Poland and Germany.

Pool/Samir Hussein

Meet Prince Louis Arthur Charles, the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The newborn prince is currently fifth in line for the throne, after his grandfather, Prince Charles; his father; and both his older siblings. Here he is pictured outside the famed Lindo Wing, on his way home for the first time.

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… and her very real struggles.

“She was a normal 20-year-old marrying into the British royal family,” Harry says at one point, sympathizing with Diana’s trouble with the spotlight. (He has had his own family and publicity dramas regarding his fiancée Meghan Markle’s entry into the royal family.) The sentiment is echoed by Diana’s brother: “I do feel the girl I grew up with had a bundle of insecurities and unhappinesses.”

William and Harry remember the separation and divorce.

The biggest scandals in Diana’s life get a glossing over, though her separation and divorce from Prince Charles get a mention by the boys. “It was very bitter,” Harry says. “It had a big impact.” The royal photographer Jayne Fincher recalls that the trip to Korea was the turning point: “She looked wretched; he looked wretched. It’s very evident from the pictures.” Apparently the Queen was worried, according to Diana’s friend Harry Herbert, and asked him what was going on. “Was it as bad as it was?” he recalls her asking. “It was a sad discussion.”

The wretched media.

William and Harry understandably have some choice words for the tabloids. “People would be utterly appalled if they knew what went on,” William says, calling the media an industry that lost its “decency” and “perspective.” He added that, “most of the times [Diana] ever cried about anything had to do with press intrusion.”

The final phone call with Diana.

On one of Diana’s last days, the Princes remember getting a phone call at Balmoral from their mother when she was in Paris. Both speak about how between all the shuffling between homes they had an aversion to talking on the phone and cut their conversations short. “I wouldn’t have been so blasé about it,” William says of the call, while Harry more explicitly says he was, “regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.”

How the boys reacted to news of Diana’s death.

“Like an earthquake,” William says. “Your mind is completely split. It really spins you out. You don’t know quite what you’re doing.” Harry divulges, “I grew up thinking not having a mum was normal,” later revealing, “My way of dealing with it was by shutting it out… In the army, it was just white noise.”

Granny Di?

William reveals that he and Kate Middleton often talk about “Granny Diana” to their children. What might she have been like as a grandmother? “An absolute nightmare!”

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Princess Diana outside her flat in Coleherne Court, London, December 1980. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana in a dress by Cojana with Prince Charles in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on the day they announced their engagement, February 1981. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana with Prince Charles at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral Estate, May 1981. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana at a polo match in Windsor after the Ascot races, June 1981. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

A pregnant Princess Diana during a trip to the Isles of Scilly, April 1982. Photo by Kypros/Getty Images.

Kypros

Princess Diana wearing the colors of Canada during a state visit to Edmonton, Alberta, June 1983. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images.

Bettmann

Princess Diana in a Smith’s Lawn sweater with Prince Charles at a polo meeting at Windsor, June 1983. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana at the Melbourne airport, October 1985. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana on holiday in the south of France, 1985. Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage.

Anwar Hussein

Princess Diana in a Bruce Oldfield dress during a visit to Venice, May 1985. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana outside Highgrove with her son Harry, July 1986. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana on holiday in Majorca, Spain, August 1987. Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.

Georges De Keerle

Princess Diana at a Berlin Opera House gala performance in a gown by Catherine Walker, November 1987. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana and Prince Charles at the Munich Opera House, November 1987. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana at a state reception in Melbourne, October 1988. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker gown at a dinner at the British Embassy in Paris during her official visit to France, November 1988. Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.

Georges De Keerle

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker suit and a Philip Somerville hat in Kuwait City, United Arab Emirates during her official tour of the Gulf States, March 1989. Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.

Georges De Keerle

Princess Diana at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, March 1989. Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.

Georges De Keerle

Princess Diana in a dress by Catherine Walker at the London Coliseum for a performance of Swan Lake by the Bolshoi Ballet, July 1989. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana at Claridges for a state banquet, July 1989. Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images.

Julian Parker

Princess Diana with her sons William and Harry at Wetherby School on Harry’s first day, September 1989. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana in Budapest during her official visit to Hungary, May 1990. Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.

Georges De Keerle

Princess Diana and her son Harry at Windsor Chapel for the wedding of Lady Helen Windsor and art dealer Tim Taylor, July 1992. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana in a gown by Christina Stambolian at the Serpentine Gallery in London, June 1994. Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images.

Princess Diana Archive

Princess Diana with her sons William and Harry on the day Harry joined Eton, September 1995. Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage.

Anwar Hussein

Princess Diana in a Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt at the Chelsea Harbour Club in London, November 1995. Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage.

Anwar Hussein

Princess Diana at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute dinner dance in Sydney, October 1996. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images.

Tim Graham

Princess Diana at the Chelsea Harbour Health Club in London, May 1997. Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images.

Antony Jones

Princess Diana in a Jacques Azagury dress at the English National Ballet performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall in London, June 1997. Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images.

Anwar Hussein
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