TV looks back on the princess' life 20 years after her death

By Ruth Kinane
August 31, 2017 at 03:57 AM EDT
Bettmann Archive/via Getty Images

Aug. 31 marks the 20-year anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death and television means to pay tribute.

A progressive and charming presence among more formal members of the royal family, Princess Diana was a popular public figure who captivated the world’s attention and stole the public’s hearts. Her death in a car wreck in Paris in the summer of 1997 devastated her two sons, who were 15 and 12 years old, and a nation alike. But the princess’ intense popularity has meant interest in her life and legacy has remained consistently high over the years, and she is portrayed and written about often. Indeed, such is her allure that 20 years after her sudden passing, multiple networks have chosen to commemorate her death and celebrate her life with televised specials dedicated to one of modern history’s most iconic figures.

Below, a list of when and why to watch each:

Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy 

Channel: HBO, available now on HBO GO and HBO NOW
Airdate: Monday, July 24 at 10 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary film
Watch this one if: Accuracy matters to you. Featuring interviews with Princes William and Harry, this HBO documentary will bring you closer to the truth and tears, so be sure to have tissues on hand. Speaking publicly about their mother’s death for the first time ever, the princes look back at the short time they had with her and share memories from their childhoods.

Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason 

Channel: TLC, available now at
Airdate: Monday, July 31 at 8 p.m. ET
Format: Three-hour special
Watch this one if: Dramatic voiceovers are your thing and you can sit still for long periods of time. The three-hour special boasts impersonations of Diana’s voice and input from Tamron Hall. It also delves into the conspiracy surrounding the princess’ death which blames the royal family for orchestrating her “murder.” Plus, there are exclusives from Diana’s biographer, Andrew Morton, who shares first-hand accounts in the princess’ own words, if not her own voice.

The Story of Diana: Part One

Channel: ABC, available now at
Airdate: Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 9 p.m. ET
Format: Two-night special
Watch this one if: You appreciate an insider and truthful look at Diana’s life. ABC and PEOPLE’s four hours of programming airing over two nights includes interviews with those who were closest with the princess during her life, as well as leading Diana experts. These interviews are interwoven with archival footage of the People’s Princess as the documentary examines the lasting impact of the legacy of the Princess of Wales.

The Story of Diana: Part Two

Channel: ABC, available now at
Airdate: Thursday, Aug. 10, 9 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary
Watch this one if: More about the special, via PEOPLE: “Exclusive home movie footage shows young Diana at play, goofing with her little brother and captivating the camera from an early age. The documentary traces her journey from her years growing up a child of divorce at the Spencer family’s ancestral home, Althorp, through her marriage to Prince Charles and her unparalleled rise as a global celebrity adored by billions of fans around the world.”

Diana: In Her Own Words

Channel: National Geographic, available now at
Airdate: Monday, Aug. 14, 9 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary
Watch this one if: You’re a fan of Di’s dulcet tones. From executive producer and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings, this entry is told entirely in the princess’ own words and voice: no interviews with pesky know-it-alls, just straight up quotes from Diana herself taken from previously unreleased audio played over archival footage. Hear Diana describe her relationship to Prince Charles, the royal family, and the relentless press — as she herself points out, she felt as if she was “a lamb to the slaughter.”

Diana — Her Story

Channel: PBS, available now at
Airdate: Tuesday, Aug. 22, 8 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary
Watch this one if: You want to feast your eyes one some rare Di footage. The documentary follows Diana’s life from a shy young girl thrown into the spotlight, to a confident and modern princess adored by the world. In rarely seen videos, the princess herself speaks openly about her far-from-fairytale marriage and troubled life in the limelight. Some of her closest confidants also chime in.

Diana and the Paparazzi

Channel: Smithsonian Channel, available to stream on Amazon
Airdate: Sunday, August 27 at 8 p.m. ET
Format: Two specials airing in one night
Watch this one if: You blame the press for Diana’s death and want to delve into the public spectacle that was the late princess’ life. The first of the two-part Smithsonian Royal Event explores the public and media’s fascination with Diana and examines the role all the press hounding played in the car crash that took her life.

Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye

Channel: Smithsonian Channel, available to stream on Amazon
Airdate: Sunday, August 27 at 9 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary film
Watch this one if: You’re hooked from the first Smithsonian special. The second part looks more closely at Diana’s funeral and the relentless press attention, as well as the way in which the royal family was treated after her death, often criticized for their handling of the tragedy.

Diana: Chasing a Fairytale 

Channel: CNN and CNN International, watch clips here
Airdate: Sunday, August 27 at 9 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary film
Watch this one if: You need more insight into what caused Diana’s death. Reported by CNN’s senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward, this one explores the lesser-known moments of the princess’ journey and shares interviews with some of her closest friends and those near to her on the night of her death, some of whom have never spoken publicly on the subject before.

Diana, 7 Days

Channel: NBC
Airdate: Friday, September 1 at 8 p.m. ET
Format: Documentary film
Watch this one if: You want it straight from the motherland. This two-hour special is commissioned by the BBC and features interviews with Princes William and Harry. The film focuses on the aftermath of Diana’s death, particularly the week immediately after her death and before her funeral, as well as the lasting impact of her legacy on the United Kingdom and beyond.


Feud: Charles and Diana

Channel: FX
Airdate: Coming in 2018
Format: Anthology drama series
Watch this one if: You have a flair for the dramatic and Ryan Murphy’s twisted take on real-life events. Casting news has yet to be announced.