Princess Diana's tragic death has been the focus of The Crown's sixth season thus far, with episodes delving into not just the circumstances surrounding her and Dodi Fayed's fatal car accident but also the royal family's immediate response to her passing.
And Queen Elizabeth does...not come off particularly well. The Crown (which, reminder, is a work of fiction) depicts the Queen as closing ranks on the press/public and isolating her family in Balmoral in an attempt to protect Prince William and Prince Harry from the spotlight. Here is Princess Anne defending her mother's decision years later, claiming it was the correct choice for the kids:
Still, Her Majesty's lack of visibility as the nation's monarch was deeply felt by the public, who wondered why she hadn't released a statement and why she wasn't in London. Per the Washington Post, newspapers around the country ran with headlines like “WHERE IS OUR QUEEN?” “SHOW US YOU CARE,” and “YOUR PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING, SPEAK TO US MA’AM.”
As we see in The Crown, the Queen eventually did return to London amid the nation's mourning, where she gave a statement to the public. And in this respect, what we saw on TV was pretty much exactly what she said IRL—though Netflix did some editing to shorten it.
Here is what Queen Elizabeth says on the show (just a portion of the speech is included):
And here is her actual full statement, per the royal family's website, which was delivered live at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 5:
"Since last Sunday's dreadful news we have seen, throughout Britain and around the world, an overwhelming expression of sadness at Diana's death.
We have all been trying in our different ways to cope. It is not easy to express a sense of loss, since the initial shock is often succeeded by a mixture of other feelings: disbelief, incomprehension, anger - and concern for those who remain. We have all felt those emotions in these last few days. So what I say to you now, as your Queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart.
First, I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness. I admired and respected her - for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys. This week at Balmoral, we have all been trying to help William and Harry come to terms with the devastating loss that they and the rest of us have suffered.
No-one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death. I share in your determination to cherish her memory.
This is also an opportunity for me, on behalf of my family, and especially Prince Charles and William and Harry, to thank all of you who have brought flowers, sent messages and paid your respects in so many ways to a remarkable person. These acts of kindness have been a huge source of help and comfort.
Our thoughts are also with Diana's family and the families of those who died with her. I know that they too have drawn strength from what has happened since last weekend, as they seek to heal their sorrow and then to face the future without a loved one.
I hope that tomorrow we can all, wherever we are, join in expressing our grief at Diana's loss, and gratitude for her all-too-short life. It is a chance to show to the whole world the British nation united in grief and respect.
May those who died rest in peace and may we, each and every one of us, thank God for someone who made many, many people happy."
Princess Diana's funeral took place the day after this speech, and Queen Elizabeth made the powerful gesture of bowing her head when her coffin went by—a break in royal protocol (the Queen doesn't bow to anyone), and one the Smithsonian reports "helped redeem her earlier silence in the eyes of the grieving public."
Watch the moving footage below.
You Might Also Like