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Diana vs The Queen is an intriguing watch. Content-wise, much of the information has come to light before and since Diana’s tragic death in 1997, but it is the almost tabloid-like presentation that makes this documentary so tantalizing.
Through voiced-over archival footage and reenactments and commentary from those in the know, the nearly hour-long program charts the rocky relationship between Diana, “the people’s Princess,” and Elizabeth II, sovereign of the British monarchy — from the former’s engagement and “there were three of us in this” marriage to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, to her death and funeral.
It’s all quite sensational, and how can it not be, with statements such as Diana being “a prisoner of the Royal Family” in a “a royal conspiracy” by the Windsors, and Diana and Elizabeth being on “a collision course,” being bandied about by the likes of former members of the Royal staff, including Patrick Jephson, Diana’s Private Secretary; Ken Wharfe, Diana’s Security Officer and Bodyguard; and Charles Anson and Michael Shea, Press Relation Officers of the Queen.
Adding fuel to “the Queen of State versus the Queen of Hearts” fire are historian Andrew Roberts, who wrote The Royal House of Windsor; Jenny Bond, Former BBC Royal Correspondent; and biographers Andrew Morton (Diana: Her True Story)Christopher Wilson (The Windsor Knot: Charles, Camilla and the Legacy of Diana) and Sarah Bradford (Diana, Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain’s Queen, and Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times).
That the friction between Diana and Elizabeth was summed up by one of the interviewees as a “conflict between tradition and modernity” seems an oversimplification when emotional frailty and stoicism, duty to country and love of the people, and more besides, were part and parcel of their relationship dynamic.
Regardless, whether one is a fan of the British Royals or not, Diana vs The Queen does tell a fascinating story of power, triumph and tragedy.
Check your local PBS Station for scheduled programming for the evening of 8 February 2016!