Stephen Frears :: U.K. :: 2006 :: 1h39
The young new Labour leader Tony Blair has just been elected Prime Minister of the U.K. when Lady Diana has a fatal accident in Paris, shocking the nation. Queen Elisabeth II is in Scotland with her family when it happens, and finds herself thrust into conflicting possible courses of action. The popularity of Lady Diana would suggest a return to London and a public burial, but she is no longer a member of the Royal Family, so she would not want to indulge in populist behavior as a standing head-of-state. The Prime Minister starts to feel the pressure mounting by the public and the press to take action to channel the sorrow felt by the nation.
Filming recent events is a risky business as all the involved parties are still around, in this case both the Prime Minister and the Queen still exercise the same roles as in 1997. But Stephen Frears recounts a very probable version of the sequence of events. But consider the following: the suggestion of Prince Philip’s infidelity, the weak and timid ‘modernizer’ Prince Charles willing to go behind the back of the Queen to protect himself, and a naive Mr Blair who changes his views on the monarchy based on the character of the Queen Elizabeth II. How true is that really? How negative was the Queen’s opinion of Lady Diana really?
Watching this very well constructed movie is somewhat superfluous. All the events are well known, and the speculations elaborately discussed, but as uncertain as ever (unless the Queen and Mr Blair both publish their memoirs). An analysis of England’s leading figures in difficult times is a challenging subject seemingly well developed, but the inevitable speculation-aspect and possible consequences for the people involved reduces the enjoyment. Whether or not you pass the threshold to take a seat in your local cinema should not depend on your love for Lady Diana, who not only did not survive the over-exposure, but here, she only shines in her absence.