The Crown season 4: Grace Kelly's bleak warning to Princess Diana

Naomi Gordon
·4-min read

From Harper's BAZAAR

The new series of The Crown will present a compassionate reconstruction of a young Diana and her head-spinning transition from teenage nursery teacher's assistant to Princess of Wales.

Season 4 of Peter Morgan's Netflix drama will begin as the 1970s are drawing to a close, continuing through to the mid-80s, chronicling Charles and Diana's speedy courtship and grandiose wedding. The Crown is likely to explore how alien and lonely life was for Diana as she entered into the royal fold, and could include a significant encounter she had with Grace Kelly during her first royal outing with Prince Charles in 1981.

While the couple's seemingly fairytale romance united the British public and garnered favour for the royals, behind closed doors, the royal family were becoming increasingly fractious and divided.

However, a warm interaction with Grace Kelly is said to have given Diana solace when they met at a musical recital at Goldsmiths' Hall in 1981. In the princess' tapes for Andrew Morton's biography Diana: Her True Story ‒ In Her Own Words, the royal recalled: "I remember meeting Princess Grace and how wonderful and serene she was - but there was troubled water under her, I saw that."

Photo credit: Tim Graham - HBO
Photo credit: Tim Graham - HBO

She also explained how she felt uncomfortable at the music event and was concerned that she wasn't complying with royal protocol, having already been admonished by Charles for wearing black which is typically reserved by royals for sombre occasions.

Her low-cut outfit apparently raised eyebrows amongst the royal inner circle too, as she recollected: "I was quite big-chested then and they all got frightful excited."

Diana continued: "It was a horrendous occasion... I didn't know whether to go out of the door first. I didn't know whether your handbag should be in your left or right hand. I was terrified, really ‒ at the time everything was all over the place. I remember that evening so well. I was terrified ‒ nearly sick."

Grace Kelly, then aged 52, had noticed Diana's visible discomfort and took her aside for a private chat in the bathroom, according to her recordings.

After divulging to Princess Grace her fears for her future, Princess Diana said that Grace patted her cheeks tenderly and replied: "Don't worry, it'll only get worse."

Their brief interaction happened just 18 months before Grace's tragic death. The Oscar-winning actress died in a car crash after suffering a stroke on September 13, 1982.

Diana attended Kelly's funeral, which was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate in Monaco-Ville on September 18, but she detailed how Charles couldn't comprehend why she wanted to go and was against her attending.

Photo credit: AFP - Getty Images
Photo credit: AFP - Getty Images

Princess Diana eventually went above Prince Charles to accept approval from the Queen.

“Well, [I said to Charles] I think it's important, because she was an outsider who married into a big family, and I've done the same, so it would feel right," she recalled of her terse conversation about it with Charles in her tapes.

"So I went to the Queen and I said: 'You know, I'd like to do this,' and she said: 'I don't see why not. If you want to do this, you can.'"

Diana spoke of her strong connection to Princess Grace, whose life she felt paralleled her own as both women were "outsiders" who married into royalty. Grace Kelly gave up her successful Hollywood career to marry Rainer III, Prince of Monaco in 1956.

Princess Diana concluded: "I went there, I did my bit, came back everyone was all over me like a bad rash: ‘Oh, you did so well! And I thought: 'Well, interesting'."

While there have been reports that Grace Kelly will be appearing in series 4, casting for the role hasn't been announced as yet, and representatives for The Crown told Harper's Bazaar UK they are unable to confirm or deny whether Grace will feature.

Photo credit: Des Willie - Netflix
Photo credit: Des Willie - Netflix

The Crown series four will see Emma Corrin make her anticipated debut as Diana. It will also feature the return of Oscar-winning Olivia Colman as Her Majesty the Queen, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Emerald Fennell as Camilla Parker Bowles, Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother, and Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten.

The royal drama will introduce Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher, Tom Byrne as Prince Andrew, Angue Imrie as Prince Edward, and Georgie Glen as Lady Fermoy.

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