The Writer of 'Spencer' on Giving Diana a Brief Happy Ending

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Photo credit: Claire Mathon
Photo credit: Claire Mathon

When Steven Knight, the writer of Spencer and creator of the Peaky Blinders series, decided to tell the story of Princess Diana, he wanted to zoom in on a few days of her life to show who she really was, not give the bird's eye view of a life familiar to so many.

As such the film is concerned with just three days over Christmas in 1991. Diana spent them at Sandringham, where she is said to have made the decision to end her marriage. This approach to her story means that when we reach the ending of Spencer we have some distance from the end of Diana's life, but with the familiar conclusion still in the back of our minds.

Instead of hinting at the tragic ending, Knight wanted to give her the happy ending that she never got in reality, one where she escapes from the stifling confines of the royal family. As such Spencer concludes with a moment of joy where Diana drives away from Sandringham with her two sons around her. "It’s a happy ending for that moment, but you can sort of do that because everybody knows what really happened," Knight told Esquire.

Photo credit: Pablo Larraín
Photo credit: Pablo Larraín

As they drive away we hear Diana, William and Harry singing along to Eighties track 'All I Need is a Miracle' by Mike & The Mechanics as it blares out from the car. Picked for the fact it's a "really middle of the road song, not trendy or fashionable, because she liked ordinary things" the writer says.

The most joyful moments in Spencer are where we witness Diana playing games with her sons away from watchful eyes, or taking them by the hand and fleeing from the Boxing Day shooting ritual the family all must endure. “The light moments are the bits with the kids and that relationship is the thing that tips the balance for her," says Knight, who spoke to people who knew Diana as research for the film. "She thinks, ‘I’m going to get those kids out of here.’ But of course we know that didn’t happen."

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