Inside Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana's relationship: A timeline

·News Reporter
·4-min read

Through the years, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana have been portrayed to have always had a frosty relationship.

Many who only know about the royals by watching The Crown would think that the late monarch, who passed away on September 8 at the age of 96 after a 70-year reign, didn't care for her then-daughter-in-law.

The truth, however, is that their relationship was much more complex than that.

The Queen and Diana's family

Although the pair only met in the 1980s before Prince Charles proposed, the Queen had already known of Diana because the Spencers were a prominent family with royal ties.

The Queen and Prince Philip attended Diana's parents' wedding and Elizabeth was godmother to Diana's younger brother, Charles.

Diana's father – Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp – had also been the equerry (personal attendant) to King George VI and Elizabeth herself, while her grandmother was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother.

Queen Elizabeth ll with her sons, Prince Edward And Prince Charles, and Princess Diana outside Clarence House In London
Queen Elizabeth ll and Princess Diana's relationship started out happily. Photo: Getty Images

Diana grew up at Park House, located on the grounds of the royal estate in Sandringham, Norfolk.

The Queen, Charles and Diana

Contrary to what some may believe, the Queen had actually thought Diana was quite suitable for Charles and had initially approved of her. Although she was considered a commoner, she was still within the upper-class ranks.

When Charles married Diana, royal biographers had noted that the people's princess, was "simply terrified" of her mother-in-law in the early days and had kept her distance.

The bond between Diana and the Queen however changed as Charles pursued an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, with the Princess of Wales turning to Elizabeth for advice and support.

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The Queen, who seemed like an unlikely ally for Diana, turned out to be quite understanding of her daughter-in-law and had wanted to help her amid the turmoil, but really had no idea how.

Royal biographer Ingrid Seward noted in her book The Queen and Di that Elizabeth had become tired of the emotional princess's emotional unscheduled visits and had begun to dread them, marking the beginning of their rocky relationship.

In the documentary Two Golden Queens, Diana's private secretary Patrick Jephson explained that the princess had hoped that the Queen would intervene and make her marriage to Charles OK again, but the traditional school of royal thought was for the younger royal to simply stop being "silly".

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, accompanied by Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth ll, Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Harry, greets the public outside Clarence House on her 92nd birthday on August 4, 1992 in London, England
Over the years, the Queen lost her fondness for the strong-willed Diana. Photo: Getty Images

The Queen had a tendency to avoid confrontation by burying herself in official paperwork, so Diana turned to the press, which did not impress the monarch, who valued royal protocol.

Queen Elizabeth was reportedly stunned by Diana going public and felt that she spoke too much, but stayed silent, which didn't help her "unsympathetic" image.

Charles and Diana separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

Before the divorce was finalised, Diana famously told a BBC journalist in 1995 that the Queen and royal family had turned on her as she was independent, outspoken, unwilling to play by their every rule and refused to go quietly as they wished.

Diana's death

When Diana died in a tragic car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, the royal family was rocked to its core.

The royals, who had initially stuck to protocol, broke their silence five days after Diana's death after then-Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened.

The Queen addressed the public with a special tribute to Diana.

"I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. Diana 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," the Queen spoke of the people's princess.

Diana's death was a turning point for the monarchy and the Queen, who appeared to change, even if it was just a little bit.

The Queen began to show a more emotional connection with her people and tried to input more spontaneity into her role. The monarchy had learned to adapt and balance tradition with innovation, which is believed to have started after Diana's death.

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