‘The Princess’ director draws parallels between Princess Diana & the Sussexes

The Princess premiered on HBO on Saturday. It was interesting to watch, especially because it absolutely did justice to the timeline of events, and made it clear that Charles gave his Jonathan Dimbleby interview a full year before Diana’s infamous Panorama interview. Some of the most interesting parts of the doc were the “man on the street” interviews done by British networks at the time, and I’m retroactively in love with the attractive man on the street who said that he had zero respect for Charles and the way he treated a “beautiful woman” like Diana. He is perfect.

The director of the documentary, Ed Perkins, did some late promotion for it in the American media. I don’t think Perkins f–ked with the British media at all, which is a smart move. No need to get dragged into their bullsh-t, especially since Perkins was critiquing Fleet Street and the British media as a whole in the documentary. Speaking of, Perkins spoke to People Magazine about how Diana’s treatment reminded him a lot of the Sussexes’ treatment, especially when it comes to the British press.

The intense reaction to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to step back from their royal roles in 2020 echoes the public perception and media treatment of Harry’s late mother, according to the filmmaker behind a new Princess Diana documentary.Ed Perkins, the director of HBO’s The Princess, tells PEOPLE that he felt those parallels as he delved into the archives of Princess Diana’s life for his documentary just as Duke and Duchess of Sussex relocated from London to California.

“For a space of about a month or two, it seemed like [Harry and Meghan] were the only thing people were talking about,” Perkins says. “Very few people were apathetic and it reminded me of the response I was seeing in the archive from 25, 30 years previously, where, for the entirety of Diana’s public life, we were dissecting everything.”

“People had strong polarized opinions all the way throughout her life and after her death, and it did feel interesting that there was a sort of similar national conversation happening 25 years later,” he continues.

Regarding the lack of editorializing within the documentary, “We’ve really tried to, in good faith, make the film that we found in the archive and that we feel is fair and balanced,” Perkins says. “It would be wrong to tell this story without talking about press excesses, the paparazzi that you see following Diana. It’s right that we talk about that — it was a big part of the story.”

“But this film isn’t about assigning blame,” he adds. “And the story is more complicated than that. The truth is that we, the people, create demand for newspaper articles or for photos. Yes, this film is ostensibly about Diana, but actually, the really interesting thing for me is what does Diana’s story say about all of us? What does it say about our relationship to the monarchy more widely? What does it say about our relationship to celebrity? I think it’s important to have a kind of adult conversation about our role in the story.”

The story is both a “sensitive” and “complicated one,” Perkins admits and concedes it’s “probably not a story that the royal family is desperate to continually revisit for obvious reasons.”

“I come out the other end of it actually feeling a lot more sympathetic towards the specific characters involved and the challenges that those roles that they are born into put upon them,” the filmmaker says. They are “human beings with all the same flaws and fallibilities as you and I, but living in this very complicated and sensitive position in society. They’re trying to do a very difficult job well, and, like all of us, don’t always get it right.”

[From People]

I have my own thoughts about “the challenges that those roles that they are born into put upon them.” There’s generational trauma – which we are clearly dealing with – and there’s also a simple, uncomplicated inability to move forward. The Windsors are largely frozen in amber by their own choice, by their own inability to change and modernize. I don’t have sympathy for that. I don’t have sympathy for a bunch of petty, jealous racist parasites who thought the answer to all of their problems was smearing and exiling a Black woman. As for what Perkins says about the parallels between Diana and the Sussexes… it goes deeper than what he says. The Windsors are terrified of Harry and Meghan because the Sussexes represent the same existential threat that Diana represented.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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73 Responses to “‘The Princess’ director draws parallels between Princess Diana & the Sussexes”

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  1. Snuffles says:

    I watched it this weekend. The first few minutes of tourists in Paris lurking around the hotel Diana and Dodi were in then watching the beginning of the paparazzi chase that killed them was chilling. They were cracking jokes about stalking Diana. Bone chilling.

    • Steph says:

      Yeah, it took me a second to realize what I was watching but I did it was creepy.

      • Both Sides Nowt says:

        It was a slight insight as to how horribly the press treated Diana. Imagine all of the times that she was hounded and stalked for almost 2 decades and the imagine the conversations that each of these leeches had. It was quite chilling as well as we were shown how they relentlessly stalked her, questioning whether Diana could see them. And yet, there was ONE occasion in which the paparazzi were being filmed that set off an angry and combative reaction from 90 seconds of experiencing their treatment of Diana. The hypocrisy was glaring!!

  2. The Hench says:

    Ironically, I don’t think Diana did represent an existential threat in quite the same way as Harry and Meghan. Whilst she divorced, at the time she was still seen by the public as a member of the Royal family. So any work she did was seen as royal work. Sure, she made the rest of them look dull and uncaring but that wasn’t leading people to question the whole premise of a monarchy.

    Her son on the other hand? Absolutely. By leaving and effectively setting up a rival court – one so much more in tune with the 21st century, making their own money and still serving others, H&M are trailblazing a whole new self-funding model that calls into question the need for the public to be funding what other royals do.

    • Tessa says:

      Diana did not do royal work after the divorce the royal family did not allow it

      • North of Boston says:

        TH wasn’t saying she was officially a member of the RF, just that *the public* still saw her that way.

    • Both Sides Nowt says:

      @ The Hench, you are spot on!! Harry and Meghan are an active threat each day. We are seeing some of the machinations of the BRF play out each day, much to their displeasure. Forcing millions to financially support their excessive lifestyle, based on their happenstance of birth, pulls the curtain back.

      There will be a time when the Monarchy is abolishing and it may not be too far into the future. Once certain generations pass, the masses will demand the dissolution.

    • Eurydice says:

      Exactly. Plus, the perception of Diana by the RF was outsider to insider to outsider – there was a protocol for putting her in her place after the divorce. But, no matter how many honors they strip from him, Harry is a born insider and always will be. In the old days, beheading was the accepted protocol – now, they don’t know what to do with him.

      • swaz says:

        Amen to that, but now beheading has turned into “take away their security, same action might bring same results”🤢

    • Lorelei says:

      @The Hench, I totally agree with everything you said. Unfortunately, that only makes me more worried about the Sussexes.

    • Christine says:

      1000%, The Hench.

      Diana was still willing to work for her charities she believed in, in England, using the Princess of Wales title, as she should.

      Harry and Meghan forged a different path, one I think Diana would have chosen for herself, if she thought she had that option.

      She was never going to move to the U.S., while Harry and Wills were kids, the royal family wouldn’t have given her any access to her kids. Harry and Meghan left with their son, and their daughter hadn’t been born yet. There was no imminent threat they would lose their kids. For Diana, it was very different.

    • SuzeQ says:

      I respectfully disagree. Diana was more popular than Charles by miles and he seemed to view her as a serious threat. That’s why she was depicted as unstable and unfaithful by Charles’ minions. They worked very hard to undermine her popularity.

      And there was real concern in the RF about her work with AIDS sufferers and on land mines.

      I agree that H&M are modeling a new funding path for royal philanthropy and that’s scary to Charles and Will. But we shouldn’t forget just how threatened the royals were by Diana.

  3. Amy Bee says:

    I agree with everything Kaiser says here. The notion that the Royal Family had learned from what happened to Diana is a myth because they used the same playbook on Meghan. They are such terrible people and I’m amazed that a lot more people don’t see that.

    • Maxine Branch says:

      @AmyBee Totally agree with you and Kaiser’s summary. This notion of a rival court is nonsense to me. 1st you have to be competing and I do not see the Sussexes doing anything other then what they announced upon departing as senior royals, leading a life of service.

      • Both Sides Nowt says:

        Absolutely. It’s the same handbook that they use for those that are unwilling to bend into submission or are an unwelcome evolution of outshining the heirs in any capacity.

        The RF has no desire to change nor see any reason to change. Their archaic mindset hasn’t evolved for hundreds of years.

    • Lorelei says:

      There are people who think the BRF learned anything from Diana? They…really must not have been paying attention for the past five years, JFC.

  4. Tessa says:

    Charles and Camilla imo did not come out looking well to say the least.even to footage of their going foxhunting and even showing dogs attacking fox

    • Izzy says:

      I liked the fact that at several points the film showed Camilla’s presence in their lives, sort of visually emphasizing the fact that throughout the marriage, Diana had to tolerate the presence of her husband’s mistress.

      • Tessa says:

        And it was mentioned that Andrew Parker Bowles escorted the royal coach carrying Charles and Diana when they left for their honeymoon

      • KAP says:

        And that they stayed with Camilla and Andrew before their marriage. And he left Diana the day she came home from the hospital, with Harry, to go to a polo match where the hag attending!

      • Both Sides Nowt says:

        @ Izzy, that was chilling, wasn’t it?? She had her nose not too far from Charles and Diana. What an awful woman!

      • L4Frimaire says:

        One segment that was interesting was the commentary that Charles still carried on like he was a bachelor after getting married, that he made no change to his life for Diana. I wonder if Camilla just stayed in the way and just wouldn’t back off, give them space, if if Charles thinking he could have his cake and eat it too, never intending to be sincere in his marriage. She’s always hovering in the background and, seemed to want to be in the way. Her husband was in on it too.Ugh, hearing those Tampon takes again was just gross. It reminded me of those scenarios where in the 17th/18thcen., some monarch marries some young girl but his mistress, often married, directed court life officially, while the queen is shuffled off somewhere with her ladies in waiting. They really had this backwards idea of royal marriage and didn’t think the media would have other ideas or that Diana would come into her own and grow and mature. Charles’s basically bounced once Harry was born, thought he’d done his duty.

    • Surly Gale says:

      The hunts in the United States do not kill the fox, they chase them till they’re ‘gone to ground’.
      Even in Canada (more aligned w/England in many ways than the States are) they don’t kill the fox. I was unaware in England they still kill the fox when they hunt (or did then).
      My mum once told me boxing was a ‘blood sport’ when I asked, and my step-father was both a hunter and a boxer when they lived in England. Huh, I am learning today my mum was covering her husband’s butt.

      • Both Sides Nowt says:

        That entire scenario broke my heart. I cannot imagine a more cruel death than what these poor creatures experience. That and the illegal dog killings in the East.

      • Respectfully @Surly Gale

        That is not true. My parents fox hunted in the states, , I have been to many and alas, they DO kill the fox. Do you think they can just tell the hounds to “stop?” There is not always “ground” for them to find and yes, there is blood.

      • TikiChica says:

        @both sides: a death just as cruel is that from bull fighting.

  5. Becks1 says:

    I haven’t watched it yet but will this week. I think it seems really well done.

    and I agree with the comments about generational trauma etc. The royals are part of (the backbone of?) a toxic, backwards institution and that institution does not want people to break free or be independent of it. Is it the Queen, is it the courtiers, is it the family members themselves, IDK. Probably a combination of multiple factors. but I feel like often there is this defense for the toxicity because of the “burden of their roles” or something and the reality is that some of them are just toxic people.

    • Nic919 says:

      I’ve seen it and it’s worth watching. It’s only archival footage and media pundits at the time making comments. No current talking heads making current interpretations. And despite this, the parallels to today are so obvious.

      The only thing I wish they had done was that they would have listed the name of some of the media pundits speaking because some of them seemed familiar and are likely saying the same crap today.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Nic that’s something I’ve wondered about throughout this entire ordeal with the Sussexes. Do these people EVER retire? So many of them have been around forever, like Arthur Edwards. He must be nearing 80? (?) Richard Kay is another. I guess the die-hard royalists get addicted to the proximity and never want to give it up.

      • VivaAviva says:

        @Nic, if you watch it with closed captions, you’ll see some names. Penny Junor, notably.

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        Threw up in my mouth a little when Lady C was shown speaking and trying to convince a group Diana cheated first.

      • Lorelei says:

        That’s a good tip, Viva! Thank you

  6. Flowerlake says:

    Didn’t kniw this dropped. Will watch tonight, thanks

  7. Cerys says:

    As someone who was around in the Diana years, there is nothing new in the film. The footage used has all been seen before. The only difference is that the news reports and paparazzi footage have been put together in chronological order to present the horrendous way that Diana was hounded by the press since she started dating Charles. The interviews given by the couple in the run up to their wedding are sad to watch given how the marriage turned out. Charles, Camilla and the rest of the royal family do not come out well in the film.
    Although, Diana manipulated the press to suit her own agenda on many occasions, the day to day intrusion in her life must have been absolutely awful. It is quite harrowing to watch.

    • Bex says:

      “Diana manipulated the press” presumes the press weren’t made up of adult men and women who had power to frame a story how they chose, as well as which stories to run. The press weren’t manipulated, and it’s bizarre to continue with this line of reasoning when we have consistently seen how the UK press demonizes immigrants, people of color, left-leaning politics, and basically anyone they deem as “the other” or not towing the line. Did you know the UK press initially criticized her work with the AIDS charities, until they saw how sales increased?

      It’s fundamentally ridiculous to act as if the UK press is a victim of manipulation here. Like….it is BIZARRE to believe in 2022 that the UK press was somehow hoodwinked and manipulated. This is a business, and the cash cow since before her wedding in 1981 was Diana. These people ended up millionaires, with their fortunes made from ONE photo. These same people are STILL making money after she’s long gone.n

      • Pointillist says:

        Go off!

      • Both Sides Nowt says:

        @ Bex, that’s true!! The scenes in which Diana couldn’t walk at any given time when she was out in public was a perfect example of how they hounded her every move.

        Add to the fact that even during her marriage to Charles, they were vehemently protective of the Firm. Diana was their ticket from rags to riches and their lust from blood hasn’t never ceased.

    • Both Sides Nowt says:

      I too was an adult when these events happened @ Cerys and agree as well as to how harrowing it is. The opening alone was just a sliver of what was to come.

      Though I don’t agree with your statement that Diana manipulated the press. Had she been able to, her life would not have been daily fodder with a twist of their own spin.

      Yet, at a certain time period of the documentary, I had to stop watching it. I felt as if I had taken a punch to my gut.

      From what I have watched, it’s been executed brilliantly. The parallels between Diana and Meghan are glaringly apparent. You have to be blind or ignorant not to see it. I am certain that we can count on those on Salty Island of Petty to be performing fits of outrage over this documentary. They are so predictable.

    • equality says:

      The “manipulated the press” tale is from the media types who claim she called them and told them where she was, etc. There is no proof of that except the word of those who harrassed her and vilified her in the press. It’s, to me, akin to the rapist saying “she wanted it” or the abuser saying “she made me do it”.

  8. Tessa says:

    Diana did go to the press to fight back Camilla was calling Sun editor Stuart Higgins with her side for ten years and confirmed by Higgins Charles pals like Nicholas soaked went to the media.with negative comments about diana

  9. Tessa says:

    Nicholas Soames

  10. Pumpkin (was Sofia) says:

    I’ve heard really good things about the doc. Going to see if I can sit down and watch it (which is a struggle for me because royal docs tend not to interest me).

  11. Harper says:

    I watched it too, and it just showcases how Diana, the real person, was such a genuinely charming, self-deprecating, wonderfully warm and empathetic human and that’s what the masses were responding to. Diana glowed, in appearance and personality, as she moved about the world. You can slap the Princess of Wales title on Kate but it won’t make her into the next Diana.

    The media talked about the breakdown of Charles and Di’s marriage freely and their obvious lack of interaction in their joint appearances. We are seeing the exact same behavior from William toward Kate but it’s clear the media has been muzzled this time.

    • Nic919 says:

      The one scene of Charles and Diana in trench coats where he’s ignoring her so obviously has already been repeated by William many times, including the recent commonwealth games. And that scene was just before they announced their separation and before the infamous trip to Korea.

  12. Colby says:

    I really liked it. I came away thinking “no wonder Harry and William are the way they are.” They both had to deal with so much – running away from paparazzi their whole lives, that terrible walk they had to do with Diana’s casket, etc. They dealt with all this trauma in different ways – William went further in to the system (as he is the heir that makes sense to me), and Harry ran away from it.

    Also, someone said during the doc that the monarchy did themselves a disservice by turning into celebrities, but frankly I’m not sure they had a choice in the matter. Since they no longer serve a governing purpose, what is left? They only thing they have to offer is celebrity.

    • Nic919 says:

      Royals were the first celebrities before newspapers even existed. It’s how they stayed in power when they stopped being generals fighting in wars. So this pretence that they are superiors to someone like a well known actor, or writer is just another sign of their arrogance and unwillingness to understand their importance.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Colby, I totally agree with you, and think it’s kind of funny when royalists become all furious when they’re referred to as celebrities. That IS all they have to offer. That’s why Kate wearing a glittering gold gown down a red carpet was the biggest story about them for months.
      And technically, the definition of a celebrity is “a famous or well-known person,” so to argue they aren’t is just stupid.

  13. aquarius64 says:

    This documentary can’t be going over well at CH. It reminds everyone Camilla got where she is dishonorably. From Chief Sidepiece to Queen Consort.

  14. Eating Popcorn says:

    Watched it over the weekend, what really stuck out was the section of Diana & her dad riding in the carriage to her wedding and he was saying how (she?) and Charles had been staying with the Parker-Bowles pre wedding and what great friends they were to the couple. Cringe and heartbreaking all at once.

  15. usavgjoe says:

    AMEN… Kaiser!

  16. Eurydice says:

    This piece seems ironic to me. Diana was a major profit center for People.

    • Lorelei says:

      Yes, doesn’t she still hold the record for the most People covers ever? She did for a long time, even after she died.

  17. VivaAviva says:

    I’m watching it now and even knowing how he turns out, Baby William is adorable.

    • Lorelei says:

      @VivaaViva, this is something else I’ve wondered about — the people/press in the UK treat Harry SO unbelievably cruelly, and most of them followed him since before he was even born. I was too little to be aware of William & Harry when they were babies, but now that I’ve watched the Cambridge kids from birth, I can’t imagine ever treating them with such vitriol. I feel like when I’ve watched someone grow up, like this, it would be hard to be so mean toward them? IDK, it feels like there’s an oddly protective instinct toward them, even though I’ve obviously never met them and never will. The same people who fawned over Harry for the first half of his life treat him like garbage now and it’s gross to watch.

  18. Candy says:

    The documentary is an amazing meditation on tragedy. I loved the metaphor between the cruelty done to animals and that which was done to Diana. He really captured what a cold world she stepped into. Also, Ann’s reaction to the birth, FTW?

    I forgot some of the hysteria around the time of the funeral, which also made me reflect on the amount of pain it caused. And no narration!

    • North of Boston says:

      I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but did catch the aftermath of Diana’s death. The cruelty of making her sons appear in public to work the crowd line and then walk behind her coffin was awful.

      And then there was the moment when QE and PP finally made an appearance outside of BP to see the flowers, and the outpouring of grief and support. Someone in the crowd says to Phillip “please take care of the boys” and he snaps back “what do you think we’ve BEEN doing?” or something similar. Instead of just a simple “of course” he had to snark at the public THAT’s what was top of the list for him in that moment

      • Lady D says:

        Remind me again why we’re supposed to abase ourselves celebrating them?
        FTR, the thought of having Charles on my money and in every govt. building lobby is just sickening.

      • Laura D says:

        “””Someone in the crowd says to Phillip “please take care of the boys” and he snaps back “what do you think we’ve BEEN doing?” or something similar. Instead of just a simple “of course” he had to snark at the public THAT’s what was top of the list for him in that moment”””

        I’m sorry but, I have to disagree with you on this point. I can remember the press hounding TQ and Phillip to bring “the boys” to London and working in an office where people were outraged at TQ for not waking them up straight away.

        I felt like I was a lone voice when I said “For goodness sake, their mother has just died what good would it do waking them up?” I also felt that TQ and Phillip did the right thing keeping them away from the circus. I felt then (as I do now) they did the best they could at what was a very emotional time. Phillip was right to feel offended and I back his response 100%. It’s not often I can (or even would) agree with him but, on that occasion it would have been better if the person in the crowd had kept quiet.

        I also got it in the neck for saying it was wrong to make W&H to walk behind their mother’s coffin and her brother mouthing off at her funeral. Looking back it was such a strange time. I did go to Kensington Palace to see the flowers and it was beautiful and what struck me was the smell of the candles and incense burners. It’s so sad she never got to see her sons grow up or see her beautiful grandchildren.

      • equality says:

        @LauraD Regardless of what Phil thought he had been doing, how does that make it all right to be nasty to people who are essentially well-wishers at a funeral?

    • VIVAAVIVA says:

      Watching the funeral procession made me break down in tears and call my mother. I am 36, I have 2 (of 4) children close to the ages Will and Harry were then, and I recently got out of the hospital and it was touch and go for awhile.

      I just kept telling my mom, that had things gone differently, that could have been my children—last week. It was a huge emotional blow.

    • MsK says:

      Anne’s response to that reporter was one of the most interesting parts because it showed how much tension there is in that family and how truly horrible they are. Also, it’s interesting that reporters never get that close to royals anymore.

  19. 2cents says:

    I haven’t seen the docu yet, but I already like Darcus Howe’s quote from the docu that Scobie put on Twitter:

    “When you put a modern person in an ancient institution they will be destroyed. But once an institution starts destroying people, it’s time to recognize there is something fundamentally wrong with that institution and not the people it destroys”

    The royal family’s/Firm’s archaic mindset reminds me of the Greek legend the “bed of Procrustes”, which has become proverbial for ruthlessly forcing someone to fit into an unnatural scheme or pattern.

    Summary: Procrustes was a robber who had an iron bed. He robbed travellers and compelled his victims to lie on the bed. If a victim was shorter than the bed, he stretched him by hammering or racking the body to fit. Alternatively, if the victim was longer than the bed, he cut off the legs to make the body fit the bed’s length. In either event the victim died.

    Like Procrustes the royal family/Firm lured in Diana and Meghan, declared them unfit according to their iron protocol “to protect the Crown” and sacrificed them to the UK press. Kate was too short but by stretching her the Firm molded her to fit the role and she’s still adapting to it.

    If an archaic system is unwilling and unable to change, the time may have come to abolish it.

    • Candy says:

      Yes! The Darcus Howe quote was powerful.

    • Colby says:

      Yes totally agree – that was such a relevant pull to include in the doc because it perfectly summarizes what happened with Di and then Meghan years later. Thank you for sharing the Procrustes legend – perfect analogy for Kate/Diana/Meghan!

    • Lorelei says:

      I probably say this constantly, but I really do learn something new on this site every day! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Tessa says:

    Charles showed his petty persona by.whining to a photographer am In your way when Diana was being photographed then the clip where he talked about needing two wives

  21. gubbinal says:

    I lived in Bath, England for the summer of 1997 and returned to the USA the day before Diana was killed. The press was full of Diana. I quickly learned that the stories about her love life were from tabloids, but the stories of her humanitarian work were a daily feature of the mainstream publications, who praised her landmine efforts. There was a Dianamania, and I do not recall a focus on other members of the RF aside from the Queen.

  22. Lurker25 says:

    Is there a max comment length? Just wondering cause I wrote this long thing (felt inspired 😄) and it’s not posted yet.

    • Lorelei says:

      The same thing happened to me in another post…I tend to go on for way too long a lot of the time 😂