As we recognize the 25th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the late royal remains a potent symbol of love, empathy and charity. Or to quote Sir Elton John's 1997 musical tribute to the fashion icon, "a candle in the wind." The proof of her power is in the many movies and TV shows that memorialize her life. Here are some of our favorites.
Twilight’s Kristen Stewart earned her first Oscar nomination in this fictionalized, blue-chip biopic. The immersive film catches Princess Diana spending an awkward 1991 Christmas with her sons Harry and William, their father Charles and his mistress Camilla, and the extended royal family at the queen’s Sandringham estate — and contemplating divorce. Watch it on Hulu or Amazon Prime.
With her blond good looks, actress Naomi Watts, 53, seems like a natural to portray the princess. This conventional big-screen biopic focuses on the last two years of Diana’s life and her clandestine affair with surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Naveen Andrews). Watch it on iTunes or YouTube.
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The Crown, Seasons 4–6 (2021–2023)
Among the most highly praised, brilliantly cast depictions of the House of Windsor, the series features not one but two actresses playing Diana. Emmy nominee Emma Corrin plays the younger aristocrat in Season 4, while doppelgänger Elizabeth Debicki assumes the crown in the show’s final two upcoming seasons opposite Dominic West, 52, as Prince Charles. Watch it on Netflix.
For AARP members: Princess Diana’s Iconic Moments and Legacy Slideshow
The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana (1982)
Forget what happened later and have a warm, sudsy bath in this American TV movie about the Charles-Diana love story that pairs Catherine Oxenberg, now 60 (a third cousin of Charles), and Christopher Baines with the late, great Olivia de Havilland as the Queen Mother. Watch it on YouTube.
Diana: The Musical (2021)
Was the Broadway musical inevitable? In this Netflix special, from the creators of Memphis and shot live on the Great White Way, we’re treated to such songs as “The Worst Job in England” and “Pretty, Pretty Girl” — and the story of the commoner who would be princess, and the disappointments of that choice. Watch it on Netflix.
The Princess (2022)
HBO’s immersive, exhaustive HBO documentary, directed by Oscar nominee Ed Perkins, relies on a treasure trove of archival footage to piece together the story of Diana from happy beginnings to tragic ending. Watch it on HBO.
Princess in Love (1996)
Oh, that scandal! Diana’s illicit affair with riding instructor Capt. James Hewitt while still unhappily married to Charles gets the movie-of-the-week treatment. Watch it on Amazon Prime.
Diana and Sarah: The Royal Wives of Windsor (2000)
Who knew that when “commoners” Sarah Ferguson and Diana Spencer wed royal princes Andrew and his brother Charles, they would ultimately divorce and become single mothers? This documentary, based on BBC footage, retells the stories of two young women who made history by returning their glass slippers and getting on with their lives even as the cameras continued to roll. Watch it on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
Charles and Diana: The Wedding of the Century (2011)
See the pageantry, the royal family and what many consider to be the most beautiful wedding dress of the 20th century in this documentary focused on Charles and Diana’s lavish nuptials that took place on July 29, 1981. Watch it on Amazon Prime.
Diana, 7 Days That Shook the World (2017)
Created for the 20th anniversary of Diana’s passing on Aug. 31, 1997, this in-depth documentary examines the princess’s death — and the details surrounding it — as a cultural phenomenon that rocked the monarchy to its core and traumatized an adoring public. Watch it on YouTube.
Thelma M. Adams, the former film critic for Us Weekly and the New York Post, is a novelist who writes on film for AARP, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.