5 Times Spencer Lied To You

When a movie bills itself as a "fable from a true tragedy," like "Spencer" does right from the very beginning, it's perhaps foolhardy to expect too much real-life accuracy from the story as it unfolds. Starring Kristen Stewart as Lady Di, the elegantly tragic retelling of Diana's worst Christmas ever — spending three days at Sandringham estate with the royal in-laws in 1991 following the revelation that her husband, Charles, was having an affair — is nevertheless based on real characters and many true historical events.

Per Biography, for example, Diana really was raised at Park House on the Sandringham Estate, a property that was leased from the Queen, as is depicted in the movie. Furthermore, this fateful weekend really did mark the beginning of the end of Diana's marriage to Prince Charles, although the pair would not officially separate until 1992, divorcing in `96. Otherwise, here's what the movie got right about the life of the doomed Princess Diana — and five times "Spencer" lied to you.

Diana was never late for Christmas

"Spencer" begins with an extended sequence depicting Princess Diana getting lost in the countryside on her way to Sandringham Estate, at Christmas of 1991. This is presented mainly as a device to illustrate how profoundly out of sync she was with the rest of the royal family, and although royal Christmases do follow etiquette, with junior members of the royal family arriving at Sandringham first, and most senior members arriving last, there's apparently no evidence Diana was ever late for the holiday as the movie would have audiences believe, per the Independent.

It's possible Diana breaking the order of arrival for the holiday is a poetic muddle of one actual incident. According to Reader's Digest, the royals do open their presents on Christmas Eve, as the movie portrays, but here's the thing: those gifts are supposed to be funny, a small detail Diana missed during her first Christmas with the family in 1981 — awkward. "Spencer" does get one other odd and uncomfortable aspect of royal life right around the holiday season: just like in the movie, they really do weigh in before and after Christmas, per the Insider.

Anne Boleyn's ghost never visited Diana

According to Famous Kin, Princess Diana and her family are distantly related to Anne Boleyn's family, as the movie "Spencer" suggests, and the tragic similarities between Diana and Boleyn are otherwise plain to see. Both women suffered a catastrophic fall from favor with the royal family: Boleyn literally losing her head to the romantic whims of Henry VIII, and Diana becoming increasingly estranged from "The Firm" before tragically losing her life to a car crash in 1997, according to Parade.

In the movie, though, Diana is given a biography of Boleyn to pass the time at Sandringham, and also, it seems, as a cautionary tale. There is no evidence, however, that real-life Diana ever read that book, and in one of the most obvious fabrications in the movie, Diana is seen to be visited several times by the ghost of Anne Boleyn, played by Amy Manson. Needless to say, this haunting is not known to have ever happened, nor did Diana ever report having had the experience.

Did Diana harm herself with wire cutters?

Just like audiences see in the movie "Spencer," Diana did live with bulimia, per Vogue, and is thought to have attempted suicide up to five times, according to the Los Angeles Times. There is no evidence, however, that Princess Diana ever harmed herself with wire cutters as is portrayed in one of the most gripping and upsetting scenes in the film. "Spencer" does, however, get some other things close to correct about the emotional and psychological strain that life with the royal family did put on the young princess. 

In the movie, we see Diana contemplating suicide in her boarded-up childhood home, and several dark depictions of Diana losing control of her eating disorder. Although Diana did allegedly attempt suicide in a similar fashion, she is not known to have committed self-harm with wire cutters as the movie suggests, nor is it known that any of these suicide attempts took place at Sandringham, during Christmas of 1991.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Was the royal dresser, Maggie, a real person?

Alongside all the loneliness and isolation Diana is depicted as having suffered in the movie "Spencer" (both real and fictional), one bright spot in the film is the young princess' close relationship with her royal dresser, Maggie, played in the movie by Sally Hawkins. Despite the support the relationship offers Diana, Maggie's contact with the People's Princess is cut off by the royal family, plunging Diana further into despair.

The fact of the matter is, Maggie, along with several other key members of the royal staff included in the film — such as "The Watcher," Major Alistair Gregory played by Timothy Spall — are completely fictional. The character of Maggie could, however, be based on an actual royal dresser named Fay Appleby, known to have had a close personal relationship with Diana, and who spent six years dressing the princess for appearances all round the globe.

Touchingly, Diana stayed supported Appleby throughout her lengthy battle with cancer, per the Daily Mail. There is no evidence, however, that the relationship was truly as intimate as the one portrayed between Diana and Maggie in the movie. One thing the film does get right about Diana, though, is that she really was known to relate to the royal staff better than many members of the royal family, including kitchen workers and cooks, per the Mirror.

Did Diana confront Charles about Harry and William hunting?

In a climactic scene near the end of the film, Princess Diana is seen bravely standing in the way of Charles and her sons shooting pheasants, part of the Royal Family's customary Boxing Day shoot. She demands that the boys come along with her, after previously expressing her dismay at the boys killing animals at several points in the movie. According to Best Life, Diana really was uncomfortable with the royal hunting tradition and was opposed to animal cruelty. She was also opposed to her sons William and Harry ever being photographed with guns. 

For the most part, though, evidence suggests she reconciled with the fact that the boys would hunt, and both her sons were enthusiastic about the sport. Although Diana laying down her life to confront her royal family as a means to regain agency over her own life and role as mother to the two princes is an effective part of the movie, the dramatic scene appears never to have happened.

Despite the liberties the film took with some elements of the story, there's little doubt that a story about the "People's Princess" will likely be enthusiastically received by audiences.