Today's papers report that Princes Harry and William are planning a pop concert to mark the tenth anniversary of their mother's death next year. Stephen Tall has an interesting post HERE on what the reaction would have been if she had died now, rather than ten years ago. He believes that the presence of blogs and internet forums might have given a voice to the 44% of the population who did not react with mass emotional hysteria (as he sees it).
I guess I am one of the people Stephen refers to in his article. I remember reacting with complete disbelief when I heard of her death. I happened to be watching Sky News at the time and being stunned. I remember walking from Politico's on the Sunday afternoon to lay some flowers outside Buckingham Palace. People were wandering around in a complete daze. I remember watching her funeral in my flat on the Isle of Dogs almost howling. Even now when I think of her I find it difficult to comprehend what happened. So I guess in Stephen's eyes that makes me some kind of weirdo - an emotional retard. I've been called worse, I suppose.
I never met Diana so why on earth would I and millions of others react in this way? I think it was because she reached out to people in a way few people in public life ever have. She championed causes in a way which people saw as empathetic rather than condescending. Her very public personal problems merely emphasised her vulnerability and struck a chord with millions. Her work on AIDS and landmines were causes she clearly believed in. The world has been a worse place for her passing. One of the great WHAT IFS of her time is what would have happened to her had she lived. Would she have remarried? What effect would she have had on the royal family. Would Charles and Camilla still have got married? One thing is sure. We will never know.
Going back to Stephen Tall's post, would the public reaction today have been different? Again, we will never know because we don't know what her current reputation would have been like. I am not sure that much would have been different. Stephen is right that those who felt the public reaction was out of all proportion would have had more of a voice nowadays, but I doubt whether that would have had much of an effect on the mainstream media coverage.