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‘The Princess’ filmmakers give a first look at HBO’s documentary on Diana

"This film is about all of us," director Ed Perkins told TODAY. "It’s about what Diana meant to us."
/ Source: TODAY

The Princess” is an upcoming HBO documentary, out Aug. 13, about the life of Princess Diana — as it unfolded before cameras. The documentary will be released days ahead of the 25th anniversary of Diana's tragic 1997 death in a car accident at the age of 36.

While the Princess of Wales' life has been the subject of movies before, "The Princess" differs in that it is comprised solely of archival audio and video footage taken during her lifetime.

Directed by Ed Perkins, the documentary’s trailer was released in July. With its unique format, the film shows how Diana captured the public's attention, and echoes moments in the House of Windsor today.

“The Princess” debuts on HBO Max on Saturday, Aug. 13.
“The Princess” debuts on HBO Max on Saturday, Aug. 13.HBO Max

Speaking to TODAY, Perkins said that he hopes "The Princess" encourages audiences to think about present culture's fascination with celebrity and the monarchy, even though the documentary takes place in the past.

“Our hope is that this approach allows us to hopefully turn the camera back onto all of ourselves and ask us some difficult questions about our relationship to Diana,” Perkins explained in an exclusive for TODAY. “But also more broadly, our relationship to the monarchy, our celebrity relationship.”

During the exclusive preview shared with TODAY, both Perkins and the film’s producer, Simon Chinn, reflected on working to make their addition to the already comprehensive catalog of Princess Diana documentaries count. 

“The challenge for us was to do something that formerly was just entirely different, that kind of enabled you, audiences, to come at the story in a different way,” Chinn explained in the exclusive.

As Perkins noted, “The Princess” chronologically tracks Diana’s life in the public eye. The use of archival newsreels from the 1980s and ’90s allows audiences a keener look into the browbeating that the late royal, known as The People’s Princess, continuously experienced until her tragic death in 1997.

“(It’s) not only to kind of create a sort of time machine where we take audiences back into all of our past, but it really is to allow the film to kind of act as a bit of a mirror,” Perkins added. “This film is about all of us. It’s about what Diana meant to us. It’s about the way we reacted, as we did in the aftermath of her death.”