Later this month, Simon & Schuster will publish an updated version of a best-selling biography that sensationalized its subject’s life in tabloid-esque, can-it-be-true fashion. While endearing her to some, the book vilified the subject’s extended family—her ostensibly cold and contemptuous husband, in particular. Arguably the world’s most famous woman at the time, the Princess of Wales was unhappily married and later revealed to be the book’s primary source, a move that ultimately precipitated her divorce.
When it first appeared in print in 1992, Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story helped propel the willowy blonde royal towards icon status. Not only did Diana likely benefit emotionally from the freedom of a new narrative all her own, but in telling it, she later came to be viewed as brave, candid, and perhaps most importantly, normal—an everyday woman with two kids, a crappy marriage, and alternately meddlesome and distant in-laws.
In the years since Diana’s death in a paparazzi-fueled Paris car crash that also claimed her then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, interest in the People’s Princess has peaked and waned. Consider 2017 Peak Diana. The twenty-year anniversary of her passing has proved catnip to publishers and media outlets who seem to believe the public thirst for more and more has yet to be quenched.
Along with the Morton update, Diana: The People’s Princess by Thomas Owen will bow in June, and come August, both Diane Clehane’s what-if-she-never-died novel, Imagining Diana, and longtime fangirl Tina Brown’s picture book, Remembering Diana, will appear. This is in addition to more easily digestible Diana deathiversary-themed hybrid book-magazines from People and Us Weekly.
Not to be outdone by—or in ABC’s case, working alongside—the print establishment, small screen outlets are getting in on the Diana mania too. ABC will produce a two-part documentary with Time Inc. slated to air in August; earlier last month, the network also aired a special, The Last 100 Days of Diana. Meanwhile, Seasons 4 and 5 of Netflix’s The Crown will focus on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as will Season 2 of Ryan Murphy’s FX vehicle, Feud.
HBO will premiere an as-yet-untitled Diana doc focusing on the Princess’s roles as both a humanitarian and a mother, with commentary from Princes Harry and William. For its part, the BBC will air both a one-off drama, Diana & I, about the impact of the Princess’s death on four average Britons and a documentary reflecting on the nation’s grief in the wake of tragedy. It too will feature appearances from Diana’s sons.
Until recently, the Princes have said relatively little publicly about their mother’s death. That changed in April, when the brothers, along with the Duchess of Cambridge, released a video as part of the Heads Together mental health campaign. In it, Prince Harry admits to essentially shutting down his emotions for the past two decades—something that not only hurt him personally and professionally he said, but something that he certainly doesn’t want others to have to experience.
Because the BBC and HBO/ITV documentaries were produced in cooperation with and feature Princes William and Harry, they will inevitably be scrutinized and discussed all over the world. This is not a bad thing. The brothers’ charm, good deeds, and royal pedigree have largely insulated them from gossip and celebrity scandal of late, making them a bit of an enigma, at least on a personal level, to the public at large.
Talking about their mother, and the feelings that elicits, will make them less mysterious and more relatable—more like the beloved, vulnerable Diana. “I think it’s never going to be easy for the two of us to talk about our mother,” William tells the BBC, “but 20 years on seems like a good time to remind people of the difference that she made not just to the royal family but also to the world.”
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createdAt:Wed, 07 Jun 2017 19:25:20 +0000