Royal mistake in The Queen spotted as Alastair Campbell credited with Tony Blair quote

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Princess Diana 25th anniversary: Royal Family ‘won’t do anything’

Tonight, Helen Mirren’s incredible turn as Her Majesty in The Queen is aired on ITV from 8pm. The Oscar-winning drama follows the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and shows how the Royal Family struggled in the aftermath of the news breaking, and how best to approach memorials to her. Tony Blair, portrayed by Welshman Michael Sheen, is shown attempting to help the Queen as she ponders how best to support the nation in a period of unprecedent grief.

Released in 2006, The Queen was many critics’ favourite film, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 96 percent positive review rating.

Mirren’s performance was given universal acclaim, and she’d collect the Academy Award that had to that point eluded her a year later.

At the time of its release, some historical inaccuracies regarding the film’s script were unearthed, including the claim that Blair’s then-head of communications Alastair Campbell had coined the phrase “the people’s princess” in relation to Diana.

Princess Diana tragically died in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, the 25th anniversary of which is set to be marked across the globe on Wednesday.

Royal mistake in The Queen spotted as Alastair Campbell credited with Tony Blair quote

Royal mistake in The Queen spotted as Alastair Campbell credited with Tony Blair quote (Image: GETTY)

Tony Blair and the Queen

Tony Blair and the Queen (Image: GETTY)

It was widely believed that Campbell had created the description of her as “the people’s princess”, but in actual fact it was Blair, who had only just climbed to power with Labour in the months before.

In diaries, it was noted that Diana had a number of secret dinners with Blair and his inner circle prior to his election victory, with the pair meeting while he was Leader of the Opposition.

Campbell, who was present at some of the dinners, noted how Diana was “absolutely, spellbindingly, drop-dead gorgeous”.

According to a 2007 Telegraph report, Campbell wrote that it was “just extraordinary to see her in this ordinary house” in Hackney, east London, and that they had “an amazing dinner”, and she “made me a cup of tea”.

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The Queen meets every Prime Minister

The Queen meets every Prime Minister (Image: GETTY)

After Diana’s death, Campbell received a phone call from Blair, who was upset at the news.

Campbell wrote: “He was really shocked.

“‘I can’t believe this. I just can’t believe it,’ said TB (Blair). ‘You just can’t take it in, can you?’

“And yet, as ever with TB, he was straight on to the ramifications.”

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The Queen with four of her former Prime Ministers

The Queen with four of her former Prime Ministers (Image: GETTY)

In the film, Campbell is seen coming up with the term to depict Diana, but it was actually Blair who coined the phrase.

When news broke of her death, Blair delivered a speech to the public, saying: “I feel like everyone else in this country today, utterly devastated

“She was a wonderful, and a warm, human being.

“Though her own life was often sadly touched by tragedy, she touched the lives of so many others, in Britain (and) throughout the world, with joy and with comfort.”

Tony Blair served as Prime Minister for 10 years

Tony Blair served as Prime Minister for 10 years (Image: GETTY)

He added: “She was the people’s princess, and that’s how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and in our memories, forever.”

Years later, in his 2010 book A Journey, Blair noted: “I really liked her and, of course, was as big a sucker for a beautiful princess as the next man: but I was wary too” of her “wildness of emotions”.

He concluded: “I had to articulate what would be a tidal wave of grief and loss, in a way that was dignified but also expressed the emotion and love – not too strong a word – that people felt for her.”

Royal journalist Richard Kay spoke of the phrase in The Windsors documentary, express that the “wonderful phrase about the people’s princess… struck a chord”.

He added: “It seemed to sum up the feelings of a country in a paralysis of grief and shock in a way that the Queen did not do.”

The Queen airs from 8pm tonight on ITV.



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