Did Princess Diana really once live in a flat in Earl's Court?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read

Watch: Emma Corrin on playing Diana in The Crown

Season four of The Crown takes Diana on her journey from shy teenager to the Princess of Wales.

The royal-to-be is shown in her very un-royal life, living in Earl’s Court in London, where she works as a kindergarten teacher and spends time with her friends.

While it seems an unlikely life to have led before marrying the Prince of Wales, Diana really did spend her late teenage years in the area, in a flat she was bought by her mother.

She described the years as the happiest of her life.

Who was Diana before she met Charles?

Diana was born The Honourable Diana Spencer and became Lady Diana in 1975, after her father inherited his Earldom.

She actually had royal links from an early age, as she was born in Park House, near Sandringham. The Royal Family has a private estate in Sandringham and spends Christmas there.

Her parents were the Viscount and Viscountess Althorp when she was born, and became the 8th Earl Spencer and Mrs Shand-Kydd when they inherited the Earldom. Her brother Charles is now the Earl Spencer.

1st July 1962:  Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997), later the wife of Prince Charles, on her first birthday at Park House, Sandringham.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Lady Diana Spencer on her first birthday at Park House, Sandringham. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Undated family file picture of Lady Diana Spencer (Diana Princess of Wales) with her Brother Charles, Lord Alhorp (Earl Spencer) in 1968.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Lady Diana Spencer (Diana Princess of Wales) with her brother Charles, Lord Althorp (Earl Spencer) in 1968. (PA Images)

Her father had been an equerry to the Queen for two years in the 1950s.

Diana went to school in Norfolk and then went onto boarding school in Kent. She went to finishing school in Switzerland rather than university.

While living in London she was a nanny for a while and then worked at Young England School in Pimlico as a teacher.

Where was Diana’s flat?

Diana’s flat was in Coleherne Court in Knightsbridge. It was bought for her by her mother, Frances Shand-Kydd, as an 18th birthday present.

It cost £50,000.

The flat had three bedrooms and she rented it out to her friends, charging £18 a week.

Lady Diana Spencer outside her flat in Coleherne Court, London, before her engagement to the Prince of Wales, December 1980. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Lady Diana Spencer outside her flat in Coleherne Court, London in December 1980. (Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER: Police officers and members of the media stand outside the flat of Lady Diana Spencer in Coleherne Court, Earls Court in November 1980 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Police officers and members of the media outside Diana's flat in Coleherne Court, Earls Court in November 1980. (Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Diana left the flat in February 1981, the night before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced.

Kydd sold the flat after Diana married Charles for a reported £100,000. Flats in the block sell for £1.4m these days.

In 1998, the flat went on the market but remained unsold for three months, although many people sought viewings just to see inside Diana’s previous home.

Who lived in the flat with Diana?

Diana lived with her friends Carolyn Bartholomew, Virginia Pitman and Ann Bolton.

In the memoir, Diana: In Her Own Words, Andrew Morton said she called living there “the happiest time of her life”.

He added: “It was juvenile, innocent, uncomplicated and above all fun. 'I laughed my head off there' she said.”

Diana, Princess of Wales, Wedding of Diana's former flatmate Carolyn Pride and William Bartholomew at Chelsea Old Church, 3rd September 1982. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)
Diana at the wedding of her former flatmate Carolyn Pride and William Bartholomew at Chelsea Old Church, 3rd September 1982. (John Shelley Collection/Avalon)
PA NEWS PHOTO 30/8/91  DIANA, THE PRINCESS OF WALES AT THE WEDDING OF HER FORMER FLAT-MATE VIRGINIA PITMAN TO BANKER HENRY CLARKE AT CHRIST CHURCH IN CHELSEA, LONDON. WITH HER IS ANOTHER OF HER OLD FLAT-MATES SOPRANO CAROLYN BARTHOLOMEW   (Photo by Martin Keene - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Diana with Carolyn Bartholomew at Virginia Pitman's wedding in August 1991. (Martin Keene - PA Images)

Diana was said to have imposed a strict cleaning rota and had a sign reading ‘Chief Chick’ above her door.

When she moved out of the West London flat, Bartholomew and Diana remained close friends, with Bartholomew going to Kensington Palace to meet Prince William just three days after he was born.

She was also at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018.

Diana went to Pitman’s wedding in 1991 and Bolton’s in 1983.

Where did Diana live after her separation?

Diana lived in an apartment in Kensington Palace, just over a mile from her Coleherne Court digs, from the time of her marriage until she died.

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) with her old flatmate Ann Bolton (centre) during a polo match at Warwick Farm, Sydney, Australia, 10th April 1983. On the left is Mrs Sinclair Hill. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana with her old flatmate Ann Bolton (centre) during a polo match at Warwick Farm, Sydney in April 1983. (Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive)

Prince Charles had previously lived there with her, and their sons, William and Harry, both grew up there.

Now it’s home to Prince William, his wife Kate and their three children. It’s also where Harry lived and Meghan was there for some time too before they moved to Windsor.

Watch: Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer recalls the moment he got the call