The buzz surrounding Spencer is steadily growing, but Kristen Stewart is hardly the first person to portray the beloved Princess of Wales. In fact, she’s one of many.
Curious which stars have bravely taken on this royal role? Here are the actresses who’ve played Princess Diana and one newcomer who’s about to.
In 2013, British actress Naomi Watts took on playing the people’s princess in Diana. In case you missed it, this one was a biographical film focusing on the last years of Princess Di’s life, as told from Kate Snell’s book Diana: Her Last Love.
While the film itself was not a hit with critics, Watts’ acting chops and vivid efforts to embody Diana were still commendable. The A-list actress told the Daily Mail that she felt like she “connected with Diana’s spirit” during filming.
For better or worse, stories about the Royal family have always been a money-making commodity. One year after Prince Charles and Diana said “I do,” actress Caroline Bliss (better known as one of the many Money Pennys) played the Princess in Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story.
The quickly forgotten 1982 flick was a dramatization of their romance and the royal wedding. Looking back, the 1981 nuptials were such a worldwide spectacle, it was inevitable that someone would turn the big day into a movie so the world could relive it all again.
Serena Scott Thomas
In 1993, Andrew Morton’s biography Diana: Her True Story was one of the few stories written with the princess’s full cooperation. Serena Scott Thomas was the titular star.
In a funny twist of casting fate, Thomas later played Kate Middleton’s mother Carole in 2011’s made-for-TV movie William & Kate.
For those who’ve been keeping up with The Crown, you’ve already been introduced to this Hollywood newcomer. In the fourth season of Peter Morgan’s hit series, Princess Diana was brought into the story. The actor says the experience helped them come into their truest identity.
Discussing how the role affected them for the better, Corrin told the New York Times, “I feel like Diana helped me explore so many depths of myself and really do a big internal discovery of what I was feeling about everything because she was a very complex person.”
For more on the latest The Crown controversy, see our recent post.
Jeanna de Waal
After pandemic-related delays, Jeanna de Waal finally took the stage as the People’s Princess in Diana, a new musical on Broadway. De Waal has called it her favorite role to date. And if you’re interested, a film version is available for streaming on Netflix.
Co-starring alongside Roe Hartrampf, who plays Prince Charles, The American Idiot actress told Elle the role inspired her to “make more of an effort to click in with everybody who I interact with. Not holding onto my energy, but letting it go.”
One of the most scandalous portrayals of Princess Diana ever, Julie Cox starred in this 1996 made-for-TV movie. Princess in Love is based on Anna Pasternak’s biography of the same name. Primarily, it chronicles Diana’s alleged affair with Captain James Hewitt and her “loveless marriage” to Prince Charles.
Cox is perhaps most famous for her role as the childlike empress in The Never Ending Story. Or at least, that’s how I will always remember her. Cox’s acting isn’t bad, but it came out a few months before the royal divorce was finalized, which adds a bit of cringiness to the whole thing.
The year following Princess Diana’s death, Amy Seccombe starred in the film Diana: A Tribute to the People’s Princess. This memorialization focused on the late Princess’s last months.
Along with her good deeds and charity work, the 1998 flick focuses on her romances with Dodi Al Fayed and Hasnat Khan, as well as her relationship with the press.
Harcourt took the wig route to channel Diana for this 2011 TV movie. But since Princess Diana had little to do with the love story of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Harcourt’s role was rather brief, but still important.
In William & Catherine, A Royal Love Story, Harcourt gave it her best Diana for an opening scene. But if you’re looking for a Diana-centric story, this Hallmark flick may not be worth seeking out.
O’Reilly played Princess Diana for a TLC documentary with reenactments of Diana’s interviews and her final days. The talented Irish actor is best known for her work in Star Wars, but Last Days of a Princess is memorable in its own right.
This 2007 series aired before Princess Di portrayals in TV and movies made a trendy comeback. O’Reilley did a solid job emulating her and this interesting hybrid incorporated real footage and interviews. Still, critics were generally underwhelmed.
Catherine Oxenberg has a royal connection to the material. She’s the second cousin once removed of Prince Charles through her mother, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. She first played her cousin by marriage in 1982’s The Royal Romance before reprising the role of Diana a decade later.
While she was invited to Charles and Diana’s wedding, Oxenberg apparently pushed her luck with the second portrayal in Charles & Diana: Unhappily Ever After. “The only thing that the film cost me was return visits to Buckingham Palace,” the actress once revealed.
Peter Morgan is famous for recasting The Crown every few seasons, especially as his characters age. Elizabeth Debicki is set to take on the role of Princess Diana in the upcoming 5th and 6th chapters of the hit Netflix drama series.
The Guardians of The Galaxy 2 actress calls her new role “daunting but exciting.” “I think that I’m actually just incredibly excited to do it, and she’s such an incredibly important figure,” she gushed.
Last but certainly not least, Kristen Stewart is the latest actress to take on the momentous role of Princess Diana. Unlike adaptations to come before it, Pablo Larraín’s Spencer intimately focuses on three pivotal days in Diana’s life, rather than recapping her entire royal experience.
“Diana was a very mysterious figure, and I felt that Kristen could capture that mystery,” says Larraín. “Sure, there was a chance to become similar to Diana physically through makeup and wardrobe. But the most important thing is her magnetism.” So does K-Stew pull it off? Check out the eerily stunning trailer below.