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The Princess (Parent And Baby Screening) (12A)

Genre: Documentary
Author(s): Ed Perkins
Director: Ed Perkins
Release Date: 30/06/2022 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 108mins
Country: UK/Ger
Year: 2022

Twenty-five years after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, this documentary reflects on the life of the "people's princess" over the period between her 1981 engagement to Charles, Prince of Wales and her televised funeral. A mosaic of archive footage, interviews and home videos relives these tumultuous 16 years including excerpts from her controversial 1995 interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC series Panorama.


LondonNet Film Review

The Princess (12A) Film Review from LondonNet

Twenty-five years after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, director Ed Perkins reflects on the life of the “people’s princess” in a feature-length documentary, which spans the period between her 1981 engagement to Charles, Prince of Wales and her televised funeral. A mosaic of archive footage, interviews and home videos relives the tumultuous 16 years in chronological order. The Princess opens with footage from outside The Ritz in Paris, where paparazzi have gathered to compete for valuable images of Diana and Dodi Fayed together…

Blurred images of impending tragedy cut to a fresh-faced Diana emerging from her flat in South Kensington to polite yet persistent questions from female reporters about when an engagement to Prince Charles might be announced. She meets these intrusions with nervous smiles, a far cry from polished performances in front of cameras in later years, including excerpts from a controversial 1995 BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir in which she famously remarks: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”

Before the acrimony is splashed across the front pages of the tabloids, Perkins juxtaposes scenes of social unrest with the jubilation of the 1981 royal wedding, accompanied by words from the sermon of Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, who describes the union as “the stuff of which fairy tales are made”. His hopeful prediction, that Charles and Diana will live “happily ever after”, elicits a very different emotional response with the benefit of hindsight.

Composer Martin Phipps noticeably introduces discordant notes to accompany a first glimpse of Camilla Parker Bowles at a polo match to identify her as the villain in this modern-day fairy tale. Pointedly, footage of Charles and Camilla riding together during hunting season culminates in deeply distressing footage of a hare being mauled by the hounds. The visual metaphor is clear.

The media frenzy that surrounded Diana is a recurring theme and the young princes are shown running a gauntlet of prying lenses during one holiday. This fractious relationship between Diana and the press is illustrated with tense exchanges on ski slopes and candid audio from one photographer complaining that the princess courts publicity one day and shuns it the next.

The Princess is a fascinating time capsule that reminds us of the enduring fascination of the royal family and our own culpability in the voracious media circus that swallowed them whole during the 1980s and 1990s. It is impeccably edited but ultimately traipses over the same ground as countless other films about one of the most famous women on the planet, viewed adoringly from a distance rather than behind closed doors.

– Sarah Lee


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