Londoners mourn the death of Diana, as a newscaster discusses the fact that no one from the royal family has yet made an official statement. Tony Blair plans to make a speech about the loss of Diana, when suddenly he sees Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, making a statement on television.
Tony goes to speak to the queen on the phone, asking her if she intends to make a public appearance or statement about Diana's death. "No member of the royal family will speak publicly about this," she responds. She then tells him that the Spencers plan to have a private funeral. "Given that Diana is no longer a member of the royal family, we have no other choice but to respect their wishes," she says. Tony asks if perhaps they ought to have some kind of tribute given her status as the mother of the royal children and her widespread popularity, but the queen insists that it is a private affair.
Tony thinks the queen is being completely inappropriate, but Cherie insists that it is unsurprising, given the fact that the queen hated Diana. In Scotland, Elizabeth instructs Philip not to take the grandchildren out with guns, since it's Sunday.
Tony Blair makes a public statement about Diana's life, which everyone watches. In the speech, he refers to her as "the people's princess." Robin looks at the rest of the palace workers, thinking Tony's speech is over-the-top, but they are all moved and crying.
Charles goes to visit the body, where he sobs. Meanwhile, Tony gets a call from Lord Airlie, who is in charge of the funeral services. Airlie wants to meet the next morning at Buckingham Palace, and Tony agrees.
When Tony meets with Charles, Charles wants to know his thoughts about keeping the funeral private. He says, "My mother, the queen, comes from a generation not best equipped. She grew up in the war. I think what we need, what this country needs, is a more modern perspective, if you follow." Tony tells him he understands, as a group of men carry Diana's casket.
As they watch coverage of the casket being transported, Prince Philip, Elizabeth, and the Queen Mum discuss the funeral. Philip mentions that one of his fishing guides saw a stag that day and that he wants to take Harry and William out shooting. On the television, a newscaster discusses Diana and Charles's divorce, as well as Diana's celebrity. The queen abruptly excuses herself to bed, when she notices Airlie and Charles arriving outside the castle.
We see news clips of English citizens mourning the death of Diana. The next morning, Airlie begins the meeting about the funeral, which Tony's assistant attends, rolling his eyes. Later, we see Tony preparing to give a speech as the Labour prime minister, committed to modernizing the country, and his assistant bursts in, complaining about the funeral meeting. He then tells Tony that he is getting good press for his speech about Diana. Tony asks him about the funeral plans, and his assistant tells him that the funeral will be public after all.
In Scotland, the queen worries about her grandsons going "stalking" so soon, but her mother insists that it is good for them. The queen notes that Dodi Fayed has already been buried, in a very private ceremony. Robin enters and informs the queen that the funeral will be public, and the queen appears skeptical. He then tells them that they are planning on "basing" the funeral on "Tay Bridge," which is the code name for the Queen Mother's funeral. "It's the only one that could be rehearsed, the only one that could be put together in time," Robin says to the Queen Mother, who is upset.
Robin goes on to state that the funeral will represent all of the charities Diana worked for and will feature many celebrities on the guest list. The queen and the Queen Mother are evidently taken aback by the decision, as Robin asks if they can include a condolence book outside the palace to keep the crowds down and whether they should leave the flowers that were left for Diana.
The tragedy of Diana's death brings into stark contrast the differing approaches of Tony Blair and the royal family. As Tony prepares to make a heartfelt speech about the loss of "the people's princess," Queen Elizabeth maintains that it would be inappropriate for anyone from the royal family to make a public statement about the loss, and makes it clear that she has no intention of budging on this point. While the people of England seek to mourn the loss of a beloved public figure, the royals believe that it is their duty and their right to be as discreet as possible.
While the contrast between the queen and Tony Blair is one thing, the contrast between the queen and her ex-daughter-in-law, Diana, is even starker. Diana was indeed considered "the people's princess" and had a complicated relationship with her public and the press, a relationship that many believe had something to do with the circumstances of her death. Meanwhile, the queen is portrayed as exceedingly proper, tight-lipped about her emotions, and alienated from her public. They could not be more different, and this contrast comes to bear on the occasion of Diana's death. Rather than create an event that might pay tribute to Diana's connection to the citizens of England and her popularity, Queen Elizabeth wants nothing to do with it.
The pressure for the royal family to make a statement regarding Diana's death becomes all the more stark when the prime minister gives a heartfelt and compelling speech about the fallen princess. While the royals insist on a stiff-upper-lip approach to the tragedy, reasoning that it is all for the sake of sparing Diana's sons from the heartbreak of the loss, Tony knows that what the English people want more than anything is the opportunity to mourn the loss of the princess, who struck such a chord with her public. Tony's understanding of this necessity puts pressure on the royal family to do something about Diana's death, to break with tradition and try and reach out to a mourning populace.
The queen is grappling not only with a prime minister and an ex-daughter-in-law with whom she is philosophically incompatible, but also, more broadly, with a changing world—one that does not care for the traditionalism to which she is so attached. When Charles meets with Tony at the airport, he tells the prime minister that his mother grew up during the war, but that the country needs a "modern perspective." Thus we see that the queen is struggling with a variety of different issues. There is the royalist versus the anti-royalist perspective, the struggle between a discreet and an explicit approach to mourning, and the conflict between the past and the present.
The film looks humorously at the ways that the celebrity, generosity, and more "modern" reputation of Diana made her much more popular than the family she married into. The newscasters talking about her life and death on the television talk about her popularity in ways that suggest it exceeded that of the royal family. Robin makes a rather awkward announcement to the queen and the Queen Mother that they will be holding a public funeral, with celebrities, and that it will be modeled after the Queen Mother's funeral plans. In both instances, we see Elizabeth and her mother do their best to keep their feelings hidden, as they must grapple with the reality that they are simply not as beloved as the daughter-in-law who caused so many problems for them. The contrast between the royal family members' tight-lipped discretion, and the sense that they are perturbed by the inconvenience of Diana's popularity, strikes a humorous note in the narrative.