The 7 Best Movies and Shows to Watch About Princess Diana

6 minute read

In the 25 years since the tragic and untimely death of Princess Diana, her legacy has loomed large in the world’s collective imagination. Her brief but highly public time as a royal has provided endless cultural inspiration—and it’s not difficult to see why.

Her personal life was marked on one hand by a complicated and unhappy marriage to Prince Charles—the heir to the British throne—and by the stifling restrictions of royal protocol, and on the other by the glamour, charisma, and compassion that made her a beloved public figure. As the “People’s Princess,” she paved the way for a new era of celebrity. She carefully crafted a public persona that was aspirational but relatable, exemplifying the kind of fame now sought by reality stars and influencers—and her Aug. 31, 1997, death rendered her story a cautionary tale of the cost of overexposure.

Despite a life that was so on display, there’s still so much unknown about the interior life of the passionate and complex Princess of Wales. That might explain why Diana holds our fascination to this day, a quarter of a century after her death. It certainly accounts for why her story is the subject of countless creative projects, including multiple documentaries, films, and television shows.

From Pablo Larraín’s experimental biopic Spencer to the dramatic fourth season of The Crown, here are the best documentaries, movies, and TV shows about the life and times of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Queen (2006)

In Stephen Frears’ feature about the royal family in the tumultuous aftermath of Diana’s tragic death, Helen Mirren, who won an Oscar for her role, plays ultimate matriarch Queen Elizabeth, who must navigate public and private pressures in the midst of grief. While Diana is not depicted on screen, the film shows just how deeply she influenced the family and the British public—and how her death shaped the way the monarchy is viewed today.

Where to watch: HBO Max

Read More: How Princess Diana Created a New Era of Celebrity

Diana: In Her Own Words (2017)

In this candid documentary, based on the recorded interviews used by Andrew Morton for his bombshell book of the same name, Diana: In Her Own Words is an arresting and intimate look into the princess’ life. Using the interviews and other archival audio footage of Diana as the sole voiceover track, the film attempts to give Diana the chance to tell her story on her own terms.

Where to watch: Disney+

Diana, Our Mother: Her Life & Legacy (2017)

In this moving and poignant documentary about Princess Diana, her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, speak publicly for the first time about the princess as their mother. The film, a tribute to their mother’s memory and her humanitarian work, is also a space for both sons to revisit their relationships with their beloved mother and open up about the ongoing process of grieving her loss.

Where to watch: HBO Max

The Crown, Season 4 (2020)

Few performances have so evocatively portrayed the evolution of Diana from shy bride-to-be to dynamic modern celebrity as Emma Corrin’s turn as Princess Diana in the fourth season of The Crown. Corrin’s performance is by turn enchanting, exhilarating, and heartbreaking, as she falls in love with an aloof Prince Charles, realizes he’s having an affair with his former girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles, becomes an internationally beloved part of the Firm, enters motherhood, and discovers her passion for philanthropy. While Netflix’s creative liberties about the real-life events depicted in The Crown are well-known, the high-octane drama in this retelling of the love triangle between Charles, Diana, and Camilla (whom Charles married in 2005) was so great that Charles and Camilla’s official Twitter account was forced to turn off comments after the season premiered.

Where to watch: Netflix

Read More: Why Princess Diana Is So Hard to Get Right Onscreen

Diana: The Musical (2021)

The splashy, over-the-top Diana: The Musical might seem at odds with the narratives often told about the princess’ life, but TIME’s Stephanie Zacharak called it “a work that Diana herself—known to be a fan of spectacles like The Phantom of the Opera—would warm to.” While the musical was set to debut on Broadway in spring 2020, due to the pandemic it delayed its opening until November 2021 and produced a filmed version for Netflix that released ahead of its premiere on the Great White Way. Starring Jeanna de Waal as Princess Di and with original music and lyrics by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, the show was widely panned by critics, but would still be a worthy watch for Diana devotees.

Where to watch: Netflix

Spencer (2021)

Pablo Larraín’s fantastical imagining of a few fateful days in the life of the Princess of Wales is less a biopic than an experimental homage to the tragedies and triumphs of Diana’s public and personal lives. While elements of the film are rooted in real events, there are also surreal elements such as hallucinations and a visit from Anne Boleyn. The film hints at this element with its opening epigraph that warns viewers that the film is “a fable from a true tragedy.”

Where to watch: Hulu

The Princess (2022)

The intense and unrelenting public scrutiny that Diana faced is the central tension in Ed Perkins’ documentary The Princess. Composed entirely of archival video and audio footage of Diana, beginning from when speculations swirled about her engagement to Prince Charles until her 1997 death in a car crash that took place while she was trying to escape the paparazzi in Paris, the film is a quiet but searing indictment of the media attention focused on Diana, and its role in her passing.

Where to watch: HBO

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