I was far too young to understand—or even notice, for that matter—the stardom Princess Diana held toward the end of her life and in the years after her untimely death. I hadn’t even turned six when she was tragically killed.
The one thing I always associated with the Princess was the iconic royal purple Beanie Baby created as a tribute to her. All I knew is that the kids who owned that rare stuffed animal would say we couldn’t play with it because their parents had told them it would be worth a lot of money one day. Turns out, they weren’t necessarily wrong. Online sellers list the bear for anywhere between $2 and $507,000. Quite a range.
Today, the fanfare surrounding Diana has seen a resurgence thanks to Netflix’s The Crown and the real-life drama surrounding her son Prince Harry’s departure from the UK. And I fully admit that I have absolutely fallen down the rabbit hole of Her Royal Highness. Her youthful, bubbly personality, her passion for charitable work, and her history-making fashion are hard not to love.
When I watched the latest season of The Crown, I cried when I realized how horrible her short life as a royal seemed to have been. I wanted to slap Charles, Camilla, and the Queen silly for how they had treated her. I immediately went on to watch the movie The Queen, which paints Her Majesty as even more heartless, and the documentary Diana: In Her Own Words which shows a tearful Diana discussing the torment she dealt with for years. When the recent Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan came out, I continued to fume at how the royal family has seemed to have learnt nothing from Princess Di’s fate.
Realizing my latest obsession, my brother—a book, pop culture and history buff—recommended that I read Tina Brown’s bestseller, The Diana Chronicles. So, I did.
I was glued to the book for days. I thought I would be reading another tearjerker that recycled the same content I had already seen, but Brown goes into more detail than I even knew existed. She uses interviews and quotes from everyone from celebrities like John Travolta (who danced with the Princess at the White House) to the Palace’s chauffeurs and cleaning staff. She details Diana’s childhood—and even that of her parents—all the way to her death and the court proceedings that followed.
Another aspect of the book that surprised and impressed me was that it doesn’t simply show the global sweetheart I’ve come to know Diana as. Instead, Brown talks about the good, the bad, and the, at times, very ugly moments of the People’s Princess. Her outbursts and tantrums are recalled vividly. Her extramarital affairs are delved into with no holds barred. Even her spending habits are revealed.
That’s not to say that Prince Charles, the Queen, and the rest of the monarchy are given a hall pass in the book. Far from it. But Brown is much more impartial than the other sources I’ve read or watched, and provides as many details as possible, even when they’re uncomfortable to the Diana diehards…which I think it’s safe to say I have become.
If you have an interest in any aspect of the royal family, even beyond Diana, this is absolutely worth the read. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll start Googling and saving photos of the icon herself to your computer for no apparent reason other than to admire her.
Happy reading, my loyal subjects.