Netflix’s ‘Diana: The Musical’ chronicles the life of Diana, the late Princess of Wales. Directed by the Tony Award-winning Christopher Ashley, it touches upon key moments in her life, most of them highly publicized, such as her engagement and subsequent marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales, the birth of her two sons, and the love triangle between Diana, Charles, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Written by Tony Award-winning Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, the Broadway musical is one of the many existing explorations of the story of Diana. Naturally, viewers wonder how much of it is fact and how much of it is fiction. Here’s all the information on whether ‘Diana: The Musical’ is based on actual events from the life of Princess Diana!
Is Diana: The Musical a True Story?
Yes, ‘Diana: The Musical’ is based on a true story. Like many artistic ventures over the years, this musical attempts to portray the highs and lows of the royal life, emotional turmoils, and media pressure faced by Princess Diana, who was fondly referred to as the “Queen of People’s Hearts.” The idea for the musical came to DiPietro when he delved into the widely documented love triangle between Diana, her husband Charles, and Charles’ then-lover Camilla Parker Bowles. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana had famously revealed in a BBC interview.
Clearly, the world is still reeling from the impact of Diana’s presence. “It was epic and royal and I thought, she’s an 80s pop princess, and I often collaborate with David Bryan of Bon Jovi, who was an 80s pop star. I told him the idea and he was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s great, yes’,” said DiPietro. The musical explores both Diana and Charles’ sides of the story, with major inputs from Camilla’s character as well. “I hope in the show there are no villains, and it’s really three people trying to maneuver through this unique situation,” DiPietro added.
DiPietro and Bryan are two of the very few Americans who have endeavored to tell the tale of the late Princess, a story most often examined and revisited by the British. “I think not being British is an advantage here,” said Bryan. “We’re not under the royal anything; we’re removed from it. We told a human story. It’s a human, emotional story. Here’s a guy that loves a married woman [Camilla Parker Bowles] and couldn’t go with her because of his world, and here’s the young virgin girl who loves the guy and he doesn’t love her back.”
The Broadway musical, thus, tries to peel back the layers of glamour and eliteness to reveal the bare bones of emotional trauma. “There were no winners and losers in that situation. Everybody lost a little bit,” opined Bryan. The musical traverses several years of Diana’s life, starting from her days of being “nineteen and naive” — as the first song announces — and leading up to her tragic death on August 31, 1997.
In the musical, several well-remembered instances from her days as a royal are elucidated through glorious song, dance, and costuming. From Diana’s visit to the patients with HIV/AIDS at the London Middlesex Hospital to her friendships with Elton John and Freddie Mercury, from her ‘Uptown Girl’ dance with Wayne Sleep at the Royal Ballet Christmas Gala to her alleged affair with James Hewitt — the musical examines varied facets of her relationships, interests, and beliefs with vigor but also respect. The costumes in it are particularly accurate, recreating the various designer statement pieces Diana donned.
The team behind ‘Diana: The Musical’ clearly wishes to represent Diana as the kind, influential, yet struggling individual that she was. “To us, it’s really about an extraordinary and important woman of the last century who made a lasting impact,” confessed DiPietro. Jeanna de Waal, who plays Diana in the musical, agrees. “I hope people who didn’t know about her and weren’t aware of her journey leave the theatre with an idea of what she did for the world. She made everyone feel special, from the highest person to the lowest-ranking person, and I think we want to celebrate her,” she said.
‘Diana: The Musical’ circles around the various issues that had marked her marriage to Charles for doom from the very start. Additionally, it highlights Diana’s emotions as a mother and how they reshaped her royal marriage.“Then, suddenly, as Harry was born, it just went bang, our marriage. The whole thing went down the drain,” Diana had stated. “Something inside me closed off.” The musical relies heavily on historical records and interviews Diana, the royal family, and other close associates gave over the years.
It also points out the impact Andrew Morton’s biography of the late Princess, titled ‘Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words,’ had on the royal family and the public. Movies like ‘Spencer’ and shows like ‘The Crown’ have also plunged into the stories of the royals, using a characteristic grim tone. However, ‘Diana: The Musical’ takes a different approach. Although its songs and dialogues are stitched together using artistic imagination, historical records, and lyrical genius, the musical contains the true story of the late Princess — in a format easy and entertaining to digest. To understand real-life personalities, you need larger-than-life representations of them.
Read More: Where Was Diana: The Musical Filmed?