There is a piece of Princess Diana content for every occasion. In the mood for a period drama? The Crown it is. Craving royal family gossip and arena rock? Have I got the musical for you. Do you care about cursed cake? Statues with big belts? Beanie Babies that may or may not be worth thousands of dollars? Well, in all three cases, you can have your Princess Diana and eat your (cursed) cake, too. The recent release of Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, begs the question: Will we ever have enough Princess Diana movies, TV, memorabilia? The answer, it would seem, is absolutely not.
This year, Princess Diana would have turned 60, which is likely part of the reason why it seems her story is everywhere right now. But while it may have spiked this year, the popularity of Princess Diana has been present since she stepped into the spotlight. Her allure was in her apparent relatability — an oxymoronic way to describe royalty, but then again she was “the people’s princess” for a reason. Princess Diana was accessible, quite literally shaking hands and meeting with people who were stigmatized, disregarded, and ignored. In short, she was the kind of royal you’d want to grab a pint with.
Another part of our recent fascination with Princess Diana can be ascribed to nostalgia, especially when it comes to her clothes. Scrunchies and crop tops are back, as is our appreciation of Princess Diana’s very ’90s fashion. She wore sweaters adorned with a black sheep — cheeky! She wore poofy dresses, wide-brimmed hats, and huge collars! She wore biker-shorts-and-sweater combos that would make our current athleisure weep. She’s an evergreen style icon, an attainable example of how we can all dress like a princess.
There’s also, I would argue, a much darker reason for the resurgence of Princess Diana’s story. It’s no secret that Meghan Markle, duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, has faced a barrage of hate in recent years. It’s come from the media, people online, even the royal family. Since leaving Kensington Palace, both she and Prince Harry have been outspoken about the uniquely targeted attacks on Markle and their detrimental impact on her well-being. And it’s little surprise that the way she’s been treated, while distinct for its inherent racism, has been compared to the treatment of Princess Diana. Now, Princess Diana’s treatment by British media is receiving overdue scrutiny after her death. It was recently condemned by Prince Harry and Prince William. In his and Markle’s interview with Oprah, Prince Harry said he was afraid of “history repeating itself” with his wife. When you look at their stories, it’s little surprise why.
It seems Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are in good place now (Santa Barbara). Likewise, it seems like the culture at large — or at least a larger part than before — wants to do better. There’s less tolerance for unwarranted media attacks, more conversation about the royal family’s history of problematic behavior. This resurgence in recent Princess Diana–centric entertainment is nothing if not a reminder that the only part of this history we’d like to see repeated is her very good outfits.