Photos show the true story behind Princess Diana's famous Australia tour featured on 'The Crown'

Des Willie/Netflix; David Levenson/Getty ImagesEmma Corrin and Josh O’Connor in ‘The Crown’ season 4; Prince Charles and Princess Diana dance together at a charity ball during their tour of Australia on March 28, 1983, in Sydney, Australia.
  • In March 1983, Princess Diana flew to Australia with Prince Charles and her son, Prince William, for her first-ever overseas tour.
  • The four weeks Diana spent in Australia solidified her reputation as the “people’s princess,” but created a rift between her and Charles.
  • The 1983 tour has come back into focus because it’s one of the key storylines in season four of Netflix’s “The Crown.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Uneasy, even glum” is how a news report described Princess Diana when she arrived in Alice Springs, Australia, for her first-ever overseas tour with Prince Charles.

For Diana, only 21 years old and just two years into her marriage with Prince Charles, the highly public tour was a “terrifying baptism of fire,” Diana’s confidant and biographer Andrew Morton wrote for the New York Post in 2017.

But by the end of the tour four weeks later, Diana had solidified her reputation as the “people’s princess,” charming her way into the hearts of Australians at a time when the monarchy was looking to repair public opinion in the Commonwealth.

The tour is a central focus of season four of Netflix’s “The Crown.” Released on November 15, the newest season depicts the lives of the British monarchy from 1979 through 1990. Episode six, “Terra Nullius,” shows how young Diana, played by actress Emma Corrin, eclipsed Prince Charles, played by actor Josh O’Connor, in fame as they travelled around Australia, causing a rift between the royal pair.

Here’s how the real-life tour happened and a look back in photos.


On March 20, 1983, 21-year-old Princess Diana arrived with her husband Prince Charles in Alice Springs, Australia, for her first-ever overseas royal tour.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana arrive in Alice Springs, Australia, on March 20, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


The royal couple would spend four weeks touring Australia in order to repair public opinion of the monarchy.

Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty ImagesRoyal luggage for Prince Charles And Princess Diana’s four-week royal tour of Australia is unloaded from their plane in Alice Springs on March 20, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


In a break with royal tradition, Diana insisted that her 9-month-old son, Prince William, travel with them. Previously, children of heirs had remained in England during overseas tours.

Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana, holding Prince William, arrive in Alice Springs, Australia, on March 20, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


While his parents toured the country, Prince William stayed with his nanny at the family’s home base, a sheep ranch in central Australia called Woomargama.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrince William arrives in Alice Springs, Australia, with his parents on March 20, 1983. He is carried by his nanny, Barbara Barnes.

Source: The Age, PM Transcripts


The royal couple’s first official stop was at Uluru, a sacred site to indigenous Australians also know as Ayers Rock.

Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess DIana stand in front of Uluru on March 21, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


During the visit, Diana expressed her discomfort with the heat and asked for a glass of water. This endeared Diana to the public, Anita Rani explains in an episode of Netflix’s “Beneath the Crown,” since “royals were not supposed to show such emotions in public.”

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana visit Uluru in Australia, on March 21, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


Newly inducted Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who had publicly expressed his desire to lessen Australia’s ties to the British crown on TV, met with the young couple three days later.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana meet with Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke (left) and his wife Hazel, in Canberra on March 24, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


Hawke was sceptical that the royal couple could charm Australians and rebuild public faith in the monarchy, according to BBC’s HistoryExtra. What he didn’t count on was Diana’s likability.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana speaks with Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke at RAAF Base Fairbairn in Canberra, Australia, in March 1983.

Source: HistoryExtra


Australians quickly fell in love with Diana’s easygoing manner and showed up in droves to see her.

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana arrives at RAAF base Fairbairn in Canberra, Australia, on March 24, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


“Diana…was accessible to the public, physically and emotionally,” Netflix’s Rani said. “She’s estimated to have shaken hands at least 6,000 times with members of the public on this tour and offered down-to-earth comments to her admirers.”

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana and Prince Charles ride in a Land Rover at the Hands Oval sportsground in Bunbury, Australia, on April 8, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


“Mothers, in particular, gravitated towards her, impressed by her refusal to leave William back in the UK,” Rani said.

Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana meets Cub Scouts in Hobart, Australia on March 30, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown


A photo taken one week after their arrival in Australia shows Diana outside of the Sydney Opera House surrounded by throngs of spectators.

Anwar Hussein/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana mingles with the crowd outside Sydney Opera House on March 28, 1983 in Sydney, Australia.

Source: Getty


In April, The Times ran an article saying that Diana “won the heart of Australia” and that the tour was “an unqualified success, due in large part to the Princess.”

Anwar Hussein/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana attends a state reception at the Crest International Hotel on April 11, 1983, in Brisbane, Australia.

Source: The Times


While Diana’s star appeal helped the reputation of the monarchy, it served to “drive a wedge” between her and Charles, who was used to the limelight, Andrew Morton wrote in his 1992 biography “Diana: Her True Story.”

Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana visit Yandina Ginger Factory in Queensland, Australia, on April 12, 1983.

Source: Diana: Her True Story


“The crowds complained when Prince Charles went over to their side of the street during a walkabout … In public, Charles accepted the revised status quo with good grace; in private he blamed Diana,” Morton wrote.

John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana visit Perth, Australia, on April 7, 1983.

Source: Diana: Her True Story


The couple did have good moments during the trip. One was during a charity ball in Sydney on March 28 where they shared their first dance together on tour. “They gave the impression that they were very much in love,” Rani said of the dance.

Anwar Hussein/Getty ImagesPrince Charles and Princess Diana dance together at a charity ball on March 28, 1983, in Sydney, Australia.

Source: Beneath the Crown


But tension grew between them as Diana’s fame blossomed. “With the media attention came a lot of jealousy,” Diana told the BBC in a 1995 broadcast. “A great deal of complicated situations arose because of that.”

Anwar Hussein/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana meets the public during a walkabout on April 7, 1983, in Perth, Australia.

Source: BBC


On April 17, Diana and Charles concluded their tour in Australia and flew to New Zealand for two weeks before returning home to London.

David Levenson/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana and Prince Charles wave goodbye as they leave Melbourne Airport on April 17, 1983, for New Zealand.

Source: Beneath the Crown


While Diana had worked her way into the hearts of Australians, the trip highlighted fissures in her marriage with Charles that would ultimately deepen over time.

Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana has her hand kissed by a student during a walkabout in Melbourne, Australia, on April 14, 1983.

Source: Beneath the Crown

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