The Dark, Forgotten Secrets Behind Princess Diana and the Queen’s Royal Feud, Revealed

Princess Diana fatal car accident happened more than 20 years ago, but the anniversary of her tragic death still dredges up a lot of memories and royal family secrets. One of the moments most mentioned, of course, is Queen Elizabeth’s coarse commentary upon hearing that the People’s Princess had been in a car accident (read about the queen’s shocking comments on page 13). Her Majesty’s remarks shed light on her relationship with Diana, which deteriorated into an all-out quarrel over the course of two decades.

Just how did the argument start? Here’s the dark, forgotten truth behind Queen Elizabeth’s feud with Princess Diana.

For starters, there wasn’t always bad blood

The queen was impressed by Diana at first. | Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

A lot happened between Diana entering the royal family and the queen’s commentary following her death. (Which we will get to a little bit later.) In fact, Queen Elizabeth was quite taken with Lady Diana Spencer when they first met. The queen was becoming desperate to find a wife for her wayward son Prince Charles, and saw an opportunity in Diana. It’s possible that the queen actually liked Diana more than Charles did!

Next: Did the queen’s first impression blind her?

Was the queen’s judgment clouded?

queen elizabeth at buckingham palace in white

The queen’s judgment might have been a little off | Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

It’s possible that Queen Elizabeth’s desire for Charles to get married caused her to turn a blind eye to some pending issues between her son and his soon-to-be wife. Diana was likable, had a sparkling personality, and came from a family close to the royals. From their initial meeting, the queen was very charmed by her.

Next: But the queen did see trouble ahead of the wedding.

Her Majesty could see some issues ahead

The couple didn’t seem very happy together. | EPA/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth did begin to see how Diana was going to be a handful for the royal family. As one book about the queen details, Her Majesty was accustomed to planning for the future and keeping everything in order. Diana, on the other hand, lived very much in the moment and was much more interested in the glitz and glamour that came with her new royal status.

Next: The troubles with Charles started early.

Did the queen know of the unease before the wedding?

There were problems. | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the latter part of his marriage to Diana, Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles took center stage. However, Camilla was allegedly a factor in Charles and Diana’s tumultuous relationship from the start. In fact, the couple got into an argument about Charles’ relations with other women the night before the wedding! It isn’t known how much Queen Elizabeth knew about her son’s infidelity at this time. But she probably already had an inkling that the wedding would be stressful.

Next: Not the fairy tale we all thought it was.

The revealing wedding photographs

Rare photographs seem to show tension between Diana and the queen. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

More recently, behind-the-scenes photos from Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981 have become public. While the royal wedding was a glamorous spectacle on the outside, the photos reveal that the attitude within the palace was a bit tense. Some very telling photos show the queen and Princess Diana walking tensely next to each other — signaling that a feud was already brewing between the two.

Next: Attention from the media made things more contentious. 

Diana’s relationship with the media

The media followed Diana wherever she went. |  Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

One thing that created a rift between the queen and her daughter-in-law was Diana’s connection to the media, and how much attention she garnered. Queen Elizabeth reportedly didn’t like how much the attention on Diana overshadowed the rest of the royal family’s events. To make things worse, the queen didn’t like how it appeared that Diana was playing with the media to keep the spotlight on herself.

Next: And then, the princess started breaking the rules.

How Diana broke protocol

Among other passions, Diana was an advocate for mine removal in Africa. | Antonio Cotrim/AFP/Getty Images

The queen’s desire was for Princess Diana to uphold royal standards and perform the royal duties she was designated for. But even in her charity work, Diana found a way to buck the system. She became heavily involved in AIDS research and had no problem going into hospitals and hugging patients. (There are strict rules about touching a royal.) She seemingly went out of her way to give back to causes other royals wouldn’t think of. This was just part of how Diana broke the rules and ruffle the queen’s feathers.

Next: Their fragile relationship fed Diana’s pain.

Did Elizabeth know about the eating disorders?

Diana’s time as princess was not a happy one. | Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

It’s also entirely possible that this royal feud was fueled by the queen not knowing how much Diana was hurting behind closed doors.  Diana suffered from bulimia, and had the dangerous habit of cutting and hurting herself. A lot of Diana’s pain stemmed from her marriage to Charles, who cheated on her for the better part of their union. The People’s Princess allegedly asked the queen for help with her marital troubles, but didn’t receive the aid she needed.

Next: Speaking of Charles and his affairs …

How the infidelity scandal made things worse

Awkward: Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles in 1980. | Express Newspapers/Archive Photos

Infidelity has run rampant in the royal family for centuries. But the fallout from Charles and Diana’s loveless marriage was very public. And their affairs painted the monarchy in a very poor light. The Prince of Wales had rekindled his romance with Camilla, and Diana even confronted her about it at a royal party. Diana herself was sleeping with other men, and knowledge of those affairs garnered public attention. Needless to say, the queen was less than thrilled.

Next: She was even less happy when that one interview aired …

The tell-all interview

Diana didn’t pull any punches once she separated from Charles. | Thierry Saliou/AFP/Getty Images

The feud was in full swing when Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated in 1992. But Diana perhaps drew a permanent wedge between herself and Queen Elizabeth with her big tell-all interview in 1995. The interview painted the monarchy as stuffy and outdated. It also dug into Charles’ affairs, particularly the one with Camilla.  “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana infamously said.

Next: The queen showed her hand when it came to the divorce.

The divorce

This was a massive scandal in the UK. | Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

The interview made things so bad, that Queen Elizabeth insisted that Charles and Diana end their separation and get a full-blown divorce. The queen allegedly still wanted her son and apparent heir to remarry and wanted the divorce so he could move on. (Although she didn’t approve of Camilla at that time.) The queen even went so far as to write Diana a hand-written letter saying she had decided that a divorce was necessary. Unfortunately for Diana, that meant being stripped of her royal title and would require her to kneel to her ex-husband. And their two sons.

Next: Speaking of William and Harry …

Where the princes come in

Britain’s Prince Harry (L) and Prince William wait to greet guests at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Guards’ Chapel, in London, 31 August 2007. | Lewis Whyld/AFP/Getty Images

Years later, Princes William and Harry recalled how difficult their parents’ divorce was on them. While both have admitted to it making the relationship with their dad difficult, neither have said how it affected their relationship with Queen Elizabeth. (Although, Harry did admit once that he saw the queen as more of a boss than a grandmother.) This could also be because the queen played a major role in the princes’ upbringing after Diana passed away.

Next: Which brings us to the car crash …

The queen’s initial response to Diana’s death

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh at Diana’s funeral. | Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

The royal family was at a family retreat in Scotland when news came in from Paris that Diana had been in a car crash. It’s reported that the queen did not immediately know that the crash was fatal. She then allegedly said: “Someone must have greased the brakes.” The queen’s tone was somber after confirmation of Diana’s death. But the venom behind her comments shows the feud hadn’t yet died.

Next: Then, the bickering took on a whole new shape.

How Diana’s death made the queen quarrel with Charles

Prince Charles felt isolated after Diana’s death. | Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The feud between the queen and Diana dissolved into contention with Prince Charles following the fatal car crash in 1997. Charles reportedly felt a lack of love and support from his mother following Diana’s death. He also knew that the public would blame him for the car accident, and was upset that the queen didn’t do more to have his back. So even though Diana was gone, the fighting lived on.

Next: Now, to present day …

Decades after the feud

A memorial marking the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. | Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

In the years since her passing, fascination with Diana’s story has grown to epic proportions. Her sons have done a lot to preserve her legacy, continuing to modernize the monarchy as their mother tried to. Even Queen Elizabeth has loosened up on some of the rules she stuck to so tightly when Diana was alive. Tabloids may dig up their dirty laundry on the anniversary of Diana’s death. But, it’s probably safe to say this is one royal feud that has long been over.

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