The royal family is an institution dating back centuries, which means they can't have just anybody joining their ranks. And it seems there's a certain initiation outsiders must undergo to find themselves welcomed into the inner circle - Princess Diana included.
As fictionalised in series 4 of The Crown, released on Netflix on 15 November, newcomers to the royal family have typically been subjected to 'The Balmoral Test' when invited to the Queen's estate in Aberdeenshire, where she spends her summers. The baptism of fire has been deemed a 'social hurdle' to be overcome by anyone on the fringes of the institution, hoping to be accepted in. And according to The Crown's version of events, Diana aced it. Welcomed with open arms, it's possible that Diana's success at Balmoral paved the way for Prince Charles to propose.
The Balmoral Test is described by actor Tobias Menzies, who plays the Duke of Edinburgh in seasons 3 and 4 of the Netflix series, as "being tested through this prism of the strange etiquette and rules, slightly unreadable, of this family."
In The Crown's depiction, the initiation involves navigating the very particular social dynamics of the royal family, as well as enduring long days hunting in the exposed Scottish hills. Prove your worth there and it looks like you're a keeper. In episode 2 of the Netflix drama, aptly titled 'The Balmoral Test', we see Diana Spencer arrive in Scotland to her grandmother warning her it's "the most important weekend of your life."
The foundations are laid early on to suggest Diana's weekend at Balmoral is, indeed, a test. When Olivia Colman as the Queen says of Diana at dinner, "I can't keep up. Is this one a friend friend? Or a girlfriend?" Princess Anne responds: "In the balance I think, hence the invitation up here. To see if she sinks... or swims."
And it seems both in The Crown and in real life, Diana swam. "Diana gets it and therefore passes with flying colours, a big part of why that relationship is championed by the family going forward," explained Toby Menzies.
In real life, too, it seems this is what happened. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams previously told The Express that "the Balmoral 'test' was initially passed by Diana who was later unhappy and bored there."
So that might explain, perhaps, why Princess Charles and Princess Diana got engaged after reportedly only meeting 13 times: the rest of the family were big fans.
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