Diana, Princess of Wales was not a major figure in my life. She passed away when I was only nine years old and all I knew about her was that she was a princess and that there was a Beanie Babie devoted to her. Watching the 2021 film Spencer gave me a little more context to her life, though that movie plays with the narrative and truth in different ways that it’s tough to figure out what was real and what was fiction from that movie.
Ed Perkins’s The Princess opened my eyes to the world of Diana, Princess of Wales. Using only archival footage, Perkins gives us a portrait of Diana’s life, from when she married into the Royal Family, to the tough divorce, to her untimely death at the young age of 36.
I was absolutely floored by the footage that they use in the film. Perkins solely relies on the footage he has gathered to tell the story of Diana as a princess. We see interviews given by Diana, Prince Charles, and others that were close to her, we see how the people of London reacted to some of the major events in Diana’s life, like the globe-stopping wedding to Prince Charles, the rumors about her and Charles and their divorce, and her death. We see how chaotic the paparazzi became around Diana that she was never able to live a day without dozens of cameras being shoved in her face. There are still probably things that we don’t know about Diana and her life, but Perkins’s use of footage really shows us Diana’s life as a princess, which was both glamorous and sad.
The Princess is also a fascinating real-life star-is-born story. Diana was only 20-years-old when she married Prince Charles, and though she came from royal background herself, she was nothing compared to the Royal Family. But as her marriage to Prince Charles went on, Diana became bigger than Charles and the Royal Family. Hoards of people would flock to anywhere Diana was just to get a glimpse of her and no matter what she was doing, whether just laying by the pool at her home or attending a formal event, the cameras were always around, always intruding with no regard to her life. She was a fashion icon and a bonafide celebrity that everyone was talking about. And when her marriage to Charles ended, Diana became even bigger, using her clout as a global ambassador and humanitarian. But her incredible life and story were tragically cut short after a car accident while being chased by paparazzi.
After watching The Princess, I now understand Diana, Princess of Wales more than I ever have before. Through remarkable footage painting a portrait of her life as a princess, Perkins shows us that in the face of adversity, drama, and mayhem, Diana was a pillar of strength, class, pride, humanity, and glamour.
The Princess premiered in the PREMIERES category at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
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