12 Books About Princess Diana That Will Make You Appreciate The Crown More
Season 4 of The Crown gives an intimate perspective on Diana's experiences while part of the Windsor family's inner circle. For further insight, turn to books about Princess Diana. Unlike most of the other characters in The Crown, like Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, Diana has spoken candidly about being royal—and she was blisteringly honest.
In the early 1990s, Diana told her account in the headline-making biography Diana: Her True Story—in Her Own Words written by Andrew Morton, which likely informed part of The Crown. There's far more where that bestseller came from. In the years before and after she died, those who knew Diana, like Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, her butler Paul Burrell, her ex-lover James Hewitt, her housekeeper Wendy Berry, her bodyguard Ken Wharfe, and her former employer Mary Robertson—among others—offered their insights in book form. Further, novelists imagine Diana's life in fiction, like Untold Story. And children can be introduced to the People's Princess and her place in history through illustrated books like the aptly named Who Was Princess Diana?
Here are the best books to read about Princess Diana, for those seeking Crown extra credit.
1. Diana: Her True Story—in Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
In the early 1990s, Diana was one of the most famous women in the world, but unable to speak her mind. That changed when she went on the record in this book, secretly recording herself on tapes brought to Andrew Morton through a go-between. Honest and raw, this book forever changed how the world saw Diana, and the royal family. Start with Morton's book for undiluted Diana—and then read Tina Brown's spirited biography for commentary about everything Diana said in that 1992 book.
2. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
Ten years after Diana's death came the definitive biography of her, informed by 250 interviews from some of those who knew her best. Tina Brown, the former Tatler and Vanity Fair editor, writes the book with her signature wit and attention to style. The Diana Chronicles is a delight to read, infused with Brown's deep understanding of both how the royal family and the media in the U.K. work, and how they coexist. Sparkly and spirited, it's the definitive Crown companion.
3. Remembering Diana: A Life in Photographs
Decorate your coffee table with a spark of Diana. This National Geographic book compiles 100 of the most iconic images taken of the beloved figure throughout her life, from childhood to her days with Prince William and Prince Harry. The book features commentary by Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, making it an excellent companion piece.
4. Diana: Closely Guarded Secret by Inspector Ken Wharfe
Ken Wharfe saw Diana through highs and lows—because he was paid to do so. Wharfe served as Diana's bodyguard for years. Diana: Closely Guarded Secret is a balanced biography, made up of vignettes from Diana's daily life. For a "fly on the wall" perspective on Diana's high-pressure years in Buckingham Palace, read Wharfe's heartfelt but well observed book.
5. The Diana I Knew by Mary Robertson
Mary Robertson first met Princess Di back when she was Diana Spencer, an 18-year-old high school drop-out who was living in London and working through a variety of odd jobs—like babysitting Robertson's son, Patrick. Robertson didn't know that Diana, who she paid £5 an hour, was an aristocrat, until she accidentally left a card behind. The American businesswoman and the eventual princess forged a lifelong friendship. This biography gives a refreshing, behind-the-scenes perspective on Diana's youth, and the qualities she retained even as her life changed.
6. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story by Sarah Bradford
Sarah Bradford built a career from creating compelling profiles of some of the world's most fascinating, yet closed-off, figures: Royals. She's written biographies for Princess Grace, Queen Elizabeth, and of course, Diana. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story does what the title promises: It gives a fair and chronological overview of Diana's life. While not necessarily as colorful as Brown's biography, it'll make for an informative companion to The Crown.
7. Who Was Princess Diana? by Ellen Labrecque
Introduce young readers to Princess Diana through this succinctly written chapter book. Continue the royal theme with another book in the series about Queen Elizabeth I.
8. Diana in Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess by Sally Bedell Smith
As The Crown shows, Diana's life was bumpy. In fact, the show skips past some difficult parts, like her lonely upbringing following her parents' divorce. Sally Bedell Smiths's biography outlines Diana's struggles and her triumphs. The biography, though, is not a wholly sympathetic portrait of Diana—it situates her within the entire royal ecosystem.
9. A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell
Paul Burrell had a unique insight into Princess Diana's character: He worked as her butler for ten years, while she was married to Prince Charles and the years after. Tina Brown described Burrell as the "maÎtre d' of [Diana's] private life, combining the roles of P.A., man Friday, driver, delivery boy, confidant, and crying towel." In this tear-jerker, Burrell captures Diana's everyday charm and kindness. Read it alongside Ken Wharfe's book, A Closely Guarded Secret, to know what it was like to work for Princess Di.
10. The Day Diana Died by Christopher Andersen
On August 31, 1997, Diana died in a car accident in Paris, France, alongside Dodi Al Fayed and the car's driver, Henri Paul. The Day Diana Died is a painstaking overview of the events that led up to her death, and their aftermath, which is still unfolding.
11. Untold Story by Monica Ali
What would Princess Diana have gone on to do, if she'd survived the fatal car accident? An exercise in revisionist history in the same vein as Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, Untold Story is a thought-provoking page-turner, which tells the story you might wish The Crown did.
12. DK Biography: Princess Diana: A Photographic Story of a Life by Joanne Mattern
One of the most famous women in the world, Diana's life was captured in photographs. Young readers can get to know Diana through those photos, and informative captions. Don't worry—all the drama included will be kid-friendly.
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