Two decades after her death, Princess Diana’s charisma endures.
So does the tragic story of the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. Diana was just 36 when she died after the car she was riding in crashed in a Paris tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997. But before her death — and after splitting with Prince Charles — she was still turning heads and attracting headlines. So it comes as no surprise that on the 20th anniversary, everyone is finding a way to remember her.
Publishers are bringing out new books about her, or re-issuing old ones.
The calendar of special programming on television is filling up after broadcast networks got a jump start in the spring with NBC’s special interview with bodyguard Ken Wharfe on Dateline:The Life and Death of Princess Diana; ABC’s Martin Bashir special The Last 100 Days of Diana; and the Gayle King's Princess Diana: Her Life — Her Death — The Truth on CBS.
And PBS had its own Diana-related content in May with King Charles III, a film version of the hit stage play about the crisis that ensues when Prince Charles becomes king, Duchess Kate of Cambridge turns out to be Lady Macbeth in haute couture, and Diana appears as a ghost haunting her ex-husband and sons.
USA TODAY surveys upcoming commemorations of the celebrity princess:
July 24: Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy (HBO, 10 ET/PT)
This special, from ITV in Britain, features rare interviews with Prince William and Prince Harry, who speak candidly about their mother and how she impacted their lives. “She understood that there was real life outside of palace walls,” Williams says in the documentary.
Over the weekend, in advance of the documentary airing on Monday in the U.S. and in Britain, William and Harry released three pictures of their mother from her personal photo album, to help promote the film. The brothers recall memories from their childhood as they look through the photographs in a family album assembled by their late mother.
The pictures are undated. One photo shows Diana with Harry, another shows her holding William while pregnant with Harry, and the third shows William and Harry as boys sitting on a picnic bench together.
July 31: Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason? (TLC, 8 ET/PT)
Diana biographer Andrew Morton is just one of the figures interviewed in this 3-hour special that looks at the conspiracy theories surrounding the fatal car crash in Paris. Actor and conspiracy theorist Richard Belzer discusses the speculation about what happened the night Diana died.
Aug. 9-10: The Story of Diana (ABC, 9 ET/PT)
ABC and People magazine team for this two-night special featuring what's billed as an exclusive U.S. interview with Earl Spencer, Diana's brother Charles. He will share stories about his older sister with home-movie footage. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson is among friends of Diana appearing in the special.
Aug. 14: Diana: In Her Own Words (NatGeo, 9 ET/PT)
A companion project to Remembering Diana: A Life in Photographs (see below), this documentary combines film and photography with recordings of Princess Diana. The presentation focuses on her side of the story and does not include interviews with anyone else. Most of the recordings have never been broadcast before, the network says.
Aug. 22: Diana — Her Story (PBS, 8 ET/PT, check local listings)
PBS says this new documentary offers historical context as it tells the story of Diana's life through interviews with individuals who were close to the princess, including confidant James Colthurst, ballet teacher Anne Allan, private secretary Patrick Jephson and Wharfe. The documentary reveals a naive teen who eventually transformed into one of the most popular members of the royal family.
Aug. 27: Diana and the Paparazzi (Smithsonian, 8 ET/PT) and Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye (Smithsonian, 9 ET/PT)
At 8, viewers get a look through the lens at the princess and her attempts to manage the constant mob of photographers who followed her everywhere, contrasted with her desire to draw interest to the humanitarian causes that she felt were important. This special includes interviews with paparazzi who were present during her fatal car crash.
At 9, another special puts the spotlight on the funeral for the princess. Narrated by Kate Winslet, Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye includes the voices of guardsmen, reporters, pallbearers and others who share their experiences on that day, when London shut down, millions filled the streets and the U.K. mourned at a royal funeral service at Westminster Abbey.
Just in case viewers want more about Diana, 2018 will see the return of FX's Feud, featuring her long and toxic divorce drama from Prince Charles. The second installment of Ryan Murphy's latest anthology series, Charles and Diana will focus on the breakdown of Diana's marriage to the Prince of Wales and how their supposedly fairy-tale relationship came to an end.
Remembering Diana: A Life in Photographs: This sumptuous picture book of more than 100 images of Diana, due Aug. 1, comes from National Geographic with a forward by Tina Brown, her friend, biographer and the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. "Twenty years after her death we miss her more than ever," especially her humanity and the "bond of compassion she forged with her admirers," Brown writes.
Diana: I'm Going to Be Me, by Phil Dampier. This mini-book from Casemate Publishers in the U.K., is a quote book: The People's Princess Revealed in Her Own Words. Released on what would have been her 56th birthday on July 1, it's touted as the first comprehensive collection of Diana's most memorable words, such as: "The trouble with being a Princess is that it is so hard to have a pee."
Shadows of a Princess by Patrick Jephson. This 2000 best seller is being reissued by HarperCollins July 25 with a new introduction. Jephson was Diana's private secretary – her closest aide — during her years of deepest personal crisis. His description of what he saw and heard is said to be the most authoritative and balanced account of the royal life of a famously tragic royal.
Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words by Andrew Morton. The 1992 book that blew the lid off the long-simmering story of the breakdown of the marriage of Charles and Diana. Simon & Schuster has released a revised version of the book, which sold more than one million copies, with new material that Morton recorded with Diana.
Diana: The People’s Princess: A Celebration of Her Life and Legacy 20 Years On by Nicholas Owen. First published in 1997, this updated edition from U.K. publisher Carlton Shing G is a tribute biography that includes new material about Diana’s legacy as a mother, as her sons continue her humanitarian work.
Diana: A Closely Guarded Secret by Ken Wharfe and Robert Jobson. Another reissue, from U.K. publisher John Blake. Wharfe, Diana's royal bodyguard, and Jobson, a longtime British royals correspondent, teamed up on this first memoir by a royal protection officer, who became Diana's close friend and confidant during his seven years as her bodyguard.
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith. Smith is the acclaimed royal biographer whose books on the queen and on Diana (Diana in Search of Herself) were bestsellers. In her new Charles bio (published in April), Smith manages to suss out new details of their marital discord: Among them, she reports, during their many blazing arguments, when Charles knelt down at night to say his prayers, Diana would keep the fight going by hitting him on the head and continuing to shout at him.