New season of 'The Crown' will tackle Princess Diana's bulimia

"For anyone who's experienced it, it is always a good thing to see (it) be represented on screen," said Emma Corrin, who plays Lady Di in the new season.
Princess Diana
Diana, Princess of Wales, on holiday in Majorca, Spain, on August 10, 1987.Georges De Keerle / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Netflix's "The Crown," which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II over the decades, will address Princess Diana's struggle with bulimia as a young woman, years before she decided to speak openly about her condition.

The actor set to play the beloved royal, Emma Corrin, opened up about the challenging nature of the material in a recent interview with USA Today.

"(Princess Diana) was very candid about (her eating disorder), which I think is incredibly progressive of her at that time," Corrin, 24, told the paper. "Obviously, it's something we're talking about now, but even now if someone comes out and says that is something they've dealt with, it's a big deal. ... I knew that it was central to her experience, and I wanted to do that justice."

First photos of Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin playing Charles and Diana in season four of "The Crown."Enrico Borra/SplashNews

In fact, Corrin said she wanted to "flesh out" the scenes that show it.

"I just think it's important," she explained. "I think that for anyone who's experienced it, it is always a good thing to see (it) be represented on screen. At the same time, I know it's very triggering to see, and I know that you have to be careful."

Corrin said that show's portrayal of Diana as a 16-year-old girl who meets Prince Charles, the queen's oldest son, was a standout experience for her.

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in season four of "The Crown" on Netflix.Des Willie / Netflix

"It was actually the part ... that I loved the most," she said. "Because it’s the Diana we don’t have much footage of — it’s not really as recorded as when she was older. I also think that it's a crucial bit to the story. You can't understand the older version without the younger version, as well."

Princess Diana spoke with BBC's Martin Bashir about her bulimia in November 1995, two years before her shocking death in a car crash in Paris.

"I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease," she said. "You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day — some do it more — and it gives you a feeling of comfort. ... It's a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself."

Princess Diana described her eating disorder as "a symptom of what was going on in (her) marriage." She and Prince Charles divorced in 1996.

Prince William and Princess Diana in August 1987.AP

"I was crying out for help but giving the wrong signals, and people were using my bulimia as a coat on a hanger: they decided that was the problem. Diana was unstable," she continued. "The cause was the situation where my husband and I had to keep everything together because we didn't want to disappoint the public, and yet obviously there was a lot of anxiety going on within our four walls."

Lady Di's openness is part of her legacy that her oldest son, Prince William, first in line for the throne, stands by. In a documentary in 2017, "Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia," he said he was "absolutely" proud that she publicly addressed her condition.

"These are illnesses. Mental health needs to be taken as seriously as physical health," he said. "We need to normalize the conversation about mental health. ... Speaking out is incredibly brave."