Ken Wharfe: ‘Spencer’ correctly shows Princess Diana’s ‘purgatory’ Christmas

kristen stewart spencer1

Princess Diana’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe doesn’t constantly chime in about the gossip stories of the day. He picks and chooses his moments, and he’s been consistently critical of Prince William in particular. It’s kind of fascinating. Anyway, People Magazine got Wharfe to speak to them about the film Spencer and whether it’s a realistic look at what Diana’s visits to Sandringham were really like. Wharfe kind of approves of the film and approves of Kristen Stewart!

Ken Wharfe, who was Princess Diana’s bodyguard in the late 1980s and early 1990s, joined the royal family for the Christmas holiday celebrations at Sandringham that provide the backdrop for Pablo Larraín’s Spencer.

“It was purgatory for her,” Wharfe tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. According to Wharfe, the Princess of Wales “confined herself to spending time in the kitchen with the chef or with people like me, in the hope that time would while away, and she could get back to London.”

Royal biographer Ingrid Seward, a journalist with whom Princess Diana was friendly, confirms that Diana hid her struggles during royal family gatherings.

“She would have put on a good front for the Queen and the family,” said Seward. “She was a properly brought-up girl and would have considered it rude to make a scene or a spectacle of herself.”

Spencer does exercise some dramatic license, though, including one surprising scene featuring a heart-to-heart between Princess Diana and her dresser, played in the film by Sally Hawkins.

“From my experience, Diana never once confided in her dressers,” recalled Wharfe.

Wharfe praised Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of the late royal: “Out of all the people who have played Diana over the past 10 years, she’s the closest to her,” he said. “She managed to perfect her mannerisms.”

[From People]

Other people have noted this before, but Diana did prefer to confide in men, especially when she was a younger woman. She would talk to her bodyguards, the footmen, the cooks, etc. She preferred to hang out with “the help” rather than Charles and his friends or the royal family. Despite what Seward says, Diana would often let it be known that she was dreadfully unhappy. It was no secret within the royal family and Diana was always openly miserable. Anyway, just remember this when Dan Wootton writes a screed about how Elegant Bill takes after his elegant mother who never put a foot wrong and Spencer is a terrible movie because of Meghan Markle!

Lady Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales

kstew spencer6

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red, ‘Spencer’.

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16 Responses to “Ken Wharfe: ‘Spencer’ correctly shows Princess Diana’s ‘purgatory’ Christmas”

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  1. NicB says:

    I see Princess Charlene in that last photo of Kristen Stewart!

    • Nibbi says:

      Me too, I find it disturbingly apt, that whole “distressed, imprisoned Princess trying to put on a brave face.” I wonder if Stewart studied Charlene at all in her preparations

  2. tempest prognosticator says:

    Why would the bodyguard know if she confided in her dresser? Whatever. It’s not a documentary. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I plan on it.

  3. Jackson says:

    Ok. I watched this last night. KS performance was good, but the film itself? IDK. It was underwhelming to me and kind of made Diana seem crazy, for lack of a better word. I wanted to love this movie, but I was simply relieved when it was over.
    Side note, if anyone knows this answer: was that an accurate portrayal of Diana’s hairstyle during that time period? I think it was from way earlier, but maybe not. Regardless, her hair bugged the heck out of me in this film.

    • Ana Maria says:

      her hair, KS lack of grace for walking, to me, she was terribly miscast; I could only watch half the movie…yesterday I read(don’t remember where)that there was “Oscar buzz” for Kristen Stewart, and after watching her, I just don’t understand why would there be any kind of buzz about her performance

      • Duch says:

        Tastes may vary. I thought it was terrific – both KS’ performance, and the dreamscape of the movie.

        By the way the chef who is shown in the movie has also reviewed the film on YouTube – identifying what was fact and what was symbolic.

  4. Lilpeppa40 says:

    Lol am I the only that feels as if Seward’s comment about Diana being well brought up and so never made a scene or spectacle is a dig at Meghan?

    • Erica says:

      I don’t know about the only one but for me? No, I don’t think it was a dig. Has he talked about Meghan before? He’s had stuff to say about William so I don’t see how this is a dig at Meghan. What he says is the truth I think.

    • Erin says:

      Yes, I definitely felt like it was a dig at Meghan who was NOT well brought up and continues to make a scene and spectacle of herself instead of putting on a good front. *eye roll*.

  5. Sophieb9 says:

    The film was excruciating to watch because of the way that Kirsten Stewart portrayed Diana. She spoke in staccato spurts. She constantly squirmed her neck and shoulders. And she came across as contrary at best and unhinged at worst. It was as though the director took an occasional mannerism or behaviour of Diana’s and based the character on it entirely. If I were not to compare to the original woman (of whom there is lots of video footage), then it would be a gorgeous depiction of a life of a very unhappy person trapped in an unyielding, protocol-ridden life in the public eye, which is breaking her sanity and health. Shades of Charlene.

    • Leanne says:

      To me, the Diana character only seemed that way when she was at Sandringham and had to be around the RF. She definitely appears more herself when she leaves with her boys and gets fast food on the way back to London. I took as being around the RF was a big trigger for her.

  6. MelOn says:

    I didn’t like the movie. I understand what it was trying to say but, ugh. Kristen Stewart’s performance seemed to boil down to these weird mannerisms , tilting her head and hunched shoulders. Diana seemed to do that a lot in the beginning of the relationship, because she was shy, she stopped doing those things by that point in the movie. The way the movie is made you would think that Diana was seriously unhinged. I didn’t like it and I’m really head scratching over all the praise for KS’s performance, for once she doesn’t look surly and unhappy to be there ( her go to emotion when acting) , so that deserves an Oscar?

  7. Ann says:

    I didn’t like her performance much either. Her delivery was so intense and abrupt, so mannered, that it was exhausting to watch. Technically it was impressive (the accent was quite good) but she didn’t capture the woman. Diana had a certain aristocratic languor to her that Stewart just missed entirely. I thought Corrin’s version was much better. It had soul.

  8. Amy Bee says:

    I have no doubt Diana hated Christmases at Sandringham. People like Seward are intent on rewriting the history of Diana in the Royal Family.