What Was Diana & Princess Margaret’s Relationship Like?

In the seventh episode of The Crown Season 5, Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth asks Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville) to talk to Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) after Prince William says that Di misses the Queen. Both Margaret and Diana have much in common as the black sheep of the Royal family, as depicted on the show. But what was their relationship really like? Did they get along, or were the glamorous royals just kindred spirits?

After Princess Diana married Charles in 1981, they moved into Kensington Palace, where Margaret (who was now divorced from Anthony Armstrong-Jones) lived. Then, Margaret reportedly took Diana under her wing. According to Andrew Morton’s 2021 book Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters, Margaret “did her bit” to make her feel welcomed into the family by “taking her to the theater, joining her for social events, taking her shopping, and essentially showing her the ropes.”

“Neither of them were hunting, shooting or fishing types,” Andrew Morton told People in 2021. “Margaret put her arm around Diana. She could see they were two metropolitan princesses.” Morton wrote in Elizabeth & Margaret that Margaret “came to her rescue, suggesting to the Queen that Diana was having difficulties adjusting to her role and that she should cut her some slack.” Elizabeth ultimately took her sister’s advice and gave Diana a chance.

Diana, meanwhile, had told the biographer: “I’ve always adored Margo. I love her to bits, and she has been wonderful to me from day one.” Margaret also looked after Diana during the Royal family’s annual visits to Balmoral Castle. While Diana was struggling to assimilate into the family and adjust to her new role, Margaret told the Queen to let her be.

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When Diana and Charles initially shared their desire to separate in 1992, Prince Philip pushed for reconciliation for the sake of the Royal family. Meanwhile, Margaret thought a divorce as soon as possible was best, especially after going through a similar experience with Anthony Armstrong-Jones. She believed that pushing back on any legal proceedings could tarnish the crown.

However, following Diana’s 1995 bombshell BBC Panorama interview, “the guillotine really came down,” Morton lamented, and Margaret felt that Diana disappointed her. “Margaret became her fiercest critic and most implacable opponent.” Di had abandoned the “stiff upper lip” way of the Royals. He claims that she threw out every magazine cover that had Diana on it, and burned any letters they had sent to one another. Tatler reports that Margaret sent Diana a “wounding and excoriating” letter, saying the Princess of Wales was “incapable of making even the smallest sacrifice.” The two were no longer on speaking terms.

The Queen had last interacted with Diana in March 1997, and other members of the Royal family hadn’t spoken to her in years, Morton claims in Elizabeth & Margaret.

Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

According to Morton, even after Diana’s death in 1997, Margaret never forgave her. Margaret, who passed away in 2001 following years of ill health and several strokes, “had always defended the Queen and was always loyal to her,” Morton writes. “She felt Diana let her sister down. She was the Praetorian guard of her sister.”

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