Warning: possible spoilers for The Crown season 4 ahead.
The Windsors officially welcome Princess Diana, played by Emma Corrin, into the royal family in The Crown season 4. Well, "welcome" might be a bold choice of words, but the latest season of the Netflix series, covers the good, the bad and the rather ugly marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
In the latest season of The Crown, fans also get to meet Diana's family, but only briefly. Beyond a few early scenes featuring Diana's grandmother and older sister, her family has all but been erased from her royal story.
Most of what is learned about Diana's origins comes in comments and asides, which is why we decided to put together a short guide that might help fans of The Crown get to know the people's princess a little better. For starters, even before she was Diana, the Princess of Wales, she was as royal as could be.
Where did Diana grow up?
The first time we see the young Diana Spencer she's dressed as a woodland nymph for a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She's trying to hide so that she won't get in trouble with her older sister, who is getting ready for a date with Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor). The house she's tip-toeing through is Althorp, the 13,000 acre ancestral estate of the Spencer family in Northamptonshire, England.
Diana moved there when she was 14 years old. Before that she lived at Park House on the Sandringham estate where the royal family spends Christmas. Her family had leased it from Queen Elizabeth II. When she was young, Diana actually played with Prince Charles' younger brothers Andrew and Edward.
Althorp has been in her family for more than 500 years. It has 90 rooms including a library, billiard room, Marlborough room or formal dining area, and a Great room, which was used for political meetings. The estate, which is now owned by Diana's younger brother, Charles Spencer, is where the Princess of Wales is buried. Her final resting place is located on an island in the middle of Round Oval, a lake on the property, but it is off limits to the public. However, there is a separate memorial site on the grounds where visitors can pay tribute to the late Princess of Wales when the home is open to the public in July, August and other select times during the year.
Who were Diana's parents?
Diana, the fourth of five children, was born into British nobility, who had ties to Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, Prince Charles is her 16th cousin once removed.
Her father Edward John Spencer, a remote descendant of Henry VII, was an equerry, or officer of the British royal household, under George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father. He succeeded his dad to become the 8th Earl Spencer in 1975, which is when 14-year-old Diana earned the title "Lady." Fun fact: Diana's brother Charles is Queen Elizabeth’s godson.
Her mother, Frances Ruth Shand, was born at Park House, where Diana also lived as a young girl, on the same day King George V died. Shand's great-grandfather was the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) in County Cork, Ireland for 18 years. Her dad was a Conservative MP, and a close friend of the Duke of York, who would later become King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II's father. Shand was described as a "daredevil," not unlike her daughter.
Like Diana, she also might have married too young. In 1954, at 17, she married Spencer, who was 12 years her senior. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret all attended the wedding at Westminster Abbey.
The two divorced in 1969 after her mother left to be with another man. Her father was given custody of then 7-year-old Diana and her siblings. In 1976, he remarried socialite and politician Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, who Diana was not a fan of. In video tapes recorded, in 1992, by Diana's voice coach, she called Raine a "bully" and admitted that her relationship with Raine turned violent when she pushed her stepmom down the stairs on her royal wedding day.
Diana was not close to either of her parents, recalling her childhood as an unhappy one. In those leaked 1992 tapes, which became the basis for the 2017 documentary Diana: In Her Own Words, she said that her parents "never said they loved me." Diana was reportedly not on speaking terms with her mother before her tragic 1997 death.
Was Diana's grandmother friends with the royals?
Diana's maternal grandmother Baroness Fermoy, also known as Ruth Roche, was the daughter of wealthy Scottish landowners. She was also a close friend and confidant to the Queen Mother, acting as a lady in waiting. Diana's paternal grandmother, Cynthia Spencer, was also a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth II's mom.
For 33 years, Lady Fermoy was the Queen Mother's Woman of the Bedchamber, which is why she would be the perfect choice to help Diana in her royal training. Unfortunately, it's unclear whether she actually did teach Diana how to become Queen.
The Crown portrays her as a stickler for social rules, which appears to be true. She believed so much in the sanctity of marriage, that she testified against her daughter in court so that Diana's dad could get custody of her and her siblings. It ultimately worked.
Lady Fermoy, with help from the Queen Mother, is believed to be the architect of Charles and Diana's relationship. Though, she refutes this, according to Tatler. "You can say that if you like – but it simply wouldn't be true," she later said. In fact, Andrew Morton's 1992 tell-all, Diana, Her True Story, reported that she advised Diana against the marriage, saying, "Darling, you must understand that their sense of humor and their lifestyle are different, and I don't think it will suit you."
Lady Fermoy died in 1993. It's been said that Diana was not on speaking terms with her grandmother, perhaps because of her separation from Charles a year earlier.
Did Diana's sister really date Prince Charles?
Yes, Diana's older sister Sarah did date the prince, but only for a short time in 1977 — four years before Diana was engaged Charles.
Luckily Sarah, who was six years older than Diana, never seemed that serious about Charles. While accompanying the 28-year-old prince on a Swiss ski trip 22-year-old Sarah allegedly revealed that she would not marry Charles "if he were the dustman or the King of England." Charles was so upset by her comments, he broke things off with her.
Still, the two managed to remain friends. While The Crown casts Diana and Charles' first meeting as being against her older sister's wishes, Sarah later took credit for introducing her sister to the prince. “I introduced them; I’m cupid,” she told The Guardian after her sister's engagement.
Lady Sarah Spencer married Neil McCorquodale in 1980. The pair have three children and are reportedly still close with Princes William and Harry. She was included on the birth announcement of Harry and Meghan Markle's son Archie and the family photo from his baptism