How Spencer Ignored Diana's True Story

The hotly anticipated new movie "Spencer," starring Kristen Stewart in the role of the People's Princess, is many things: moving, beautiful, and tragic. One thing the film is not, however, is a completely historically accurate account of what life was like for Princess Diana during the Christmas of 1991, as the royal family gathered at Sandringham Estate. This was no doubt a fraught time for the princess, just as the marriage between Diana and the Prince of Wales began to fall apart on account of his ongoing affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, leading to their divorce in 1996, according to History.

To tell the tale, "Spencer" stitches together several close-to-true historical events, capturing the mood and essence of what happened to Diana around that time. No movie can recount history just how it happened, inevitably leaving some things out, embellishing others, and fabricating the rest. Nevertheless, here's a closer look at what "Spencer" ignored about Diana's true story.

Diana also had affairs

In the movie "Spencer," audiences see Diana struggling with the ongoing infidelity of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, as well as the unwillingness of the royal family to squarely confront the issues. Undoubtedly, Diana really was upset about her husband's wandering eye. The truth is, though, by 1991 Diana had strayed from the marriage herself — several times, in fact — but that's never mentioned in the movie.

Most notably, audio recordings between Diana and her voice coach Peter Settelen revealed that Barry Mannakee, her bodyguard, was the love of her life. Mannakee died in 1987, six years after Diana married Charles, and Diana suspected the royal family orchestrated the accident, according to Harper's Bazaar. Another man Diana was romantically linked to but is conspicuously missing from "Spencer" is James Hewitt, whose relationship with Diana is known to have ended in 1991, the same year the movie "Spencer" is set.

Diana's father was still alive

Also in the movie "Spencer," we see Diana speaking to her father's coat, as if he were no longer alive. Diana was born and raised on Sandringham Estate, in a house leased from the royal family, and it is known she was close to her father. Later in the film, we see her break into her boarded-up childhood home, Park House, where she was born. However, it's generally accepted that Diana also spent most of her childhood at Althorp House, according to Hello Magazine, which is never mentioned in the film.

The truth of the matter is, though, Diana's father was still alive in 1991 when the movie takes place. According to Express, Diana's father died in 1992 of a heart attack at the age of 68, after suffering from pneumonia. Although the device of Diana only having an old farmer's jacket from her dad to relate to nicely illustrates how lonely and isolated she must have felt at the time. But in 1991, Princess Diana could, theoretically, have just called her dad on the phone when she needed to talk.

Diana was in recovery from an eating disorder

At several points in "Spencer," audiences see Diana losing control over her bulimia. It's a well-known fact that Princess Diana did, in fact, struggle with an eating disorder, self harm, and suicidal ideation, per Vogue. By and large, though, Diana was in recovery from her eating disorder by 1991, when the movie is placed, according to Rolling Stone.

In Andrew Morton's 1992 biography of the princess, she revealed that the bulimia started a week after she was engaged, and that it would take nearly a decade to overcome. Since Charles and Diana were both engaged and married in 1981, that would put Diana in recovery by 1991, according to her own words. The portrayal of Diana still struggling with bulimia in 1991 does, however, make the real-life royal tradition of weighing-in before and after Christmas dinner seem all the more cruel and inhumane.

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).

Diana's relationship with the queen wasn't that bad

The relationship between Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II was pretty icy, as it is characterized in the movie "Spencer," but a closer look at history shows that Diana and the queen got along somewhat better than the film suggests — at least at first. According to Tatler, Diana had met the queen several times before she was engaged to Charles, and — as much as the queen of England admits her approval of anything — Elizabeth approved of the couple getting married early on.

The queen even trusted Diana to attend the funeral of Princess Grace (Grace Kelly) of Monaco on behalf of the family. When Diana and Charles' marriage began to fall apart, however, the princess turned to the queen for support, finding Her Majesty increasingly distant. This could explain how the relationship between the two women is portrayed in the film "Spencer," but never at any point is it indicated that in the past, Queen Elizabeth may have at least trusted Diana, if not even accepted her into the family.

Diana was doing better by 1991

Throughout "Spencer," Princess Diana is portrayed as traumatized — like one long stifled sob, hemmed in by leering royals everywhere she turns. This may have been Diana at some point following her marriage to Charles, but by 1991, Diana had turned her life around, asserting herself more thoroughly than the film suggests. According to The Telegraph, Mary Greenwell, a makeup artist and close personal friend to Diana, said that as early as 1985 in fact, Diana was coming into her own. Additionally, the same month "Spencer" is set, Diana posed for a Vogue cover shoot as a powerful and charismatic woman comfortable with her role on the world's stage. 

It's hard to say for certain how Diana felt on the inside during this period, but what's for certain, "Spencer" portrays Diana as a far more wounded character than she truly was in real life. For example, by 1987 Diana had a hand opening an HIV/AIDS unit in London, and this was never mentioned in the film.