Sunday, November 26, 2006

If Diana Had Died Today: What Would Have Been Different?

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.


Anonymous said...

I have heard it said that Diana was a "gay icon". As a middle aged heterosexual man I have little comprehension of what this is supposed to mean. I saw an inadequate person, witless, hysterical and publicity-seeking, and felt compassion for Prince Charles, for whom I have the greatest respect. I am glad that he is happy with Camilla and will accept her as Queen, should that come to pass.

Anonymous said...

At long, long last the measured view comes through.

I had hoped - dearly hoped - that the 10 year anniversary would be a time for reflection at the abject nonsense surrounding Diana's funeral. Perhaps the BBC's reflections may - just may - mean a more sensible retrospective view. I hope so.

And may the sensible ones (Her Majesty included) persuade "the two princes" that an anniversary concert would be a grave mistake. Grieve by all means. But in peace and private, please.

Iain. You're wrong. Bloggers would have delivered a different perspective. (Although even with bloggers the list of Di and Dodie jokes that circulated in the near aftermath might have been curtailed. It was a fascinating time - eMail was still relatively new and it was a case of speaking first before sending the list on. The risk of upsetting someone was just too high.)

Anonymous said...

Wasn't accusing you of being an emotional retard, Iain (honest) - even if I found the reaction OTT and impossible to understand.

What I didn't like was the assumption that everybody reacted in the same way; and the emotional blackmail of the Royal Family to grieve in a way dictated by the crowd.

cheers, stephen

Anonymous said...

So these causes that Diana so publically championed, and which "she clearly believed in". How much of the millions she received in her divorce settlement did she leave them in her will?

Answer: Nada

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Obviously you were not alone in your reaction to the Diana death. It is true to say that the people who thought that it was a bit of national hysteria could not say so, for they would have been publicly lynched - another example of how it is impossible to express a perfectly legitimate viewpoint nowadays.

But I do understand you, a little. When John Lennon died I was upset, not so much about him but because of his symbolic relation to his age.

The only thing is, is that Diana's death heralded the end of the Thatcher zeitgeist which could be summed up by the word "moi" in all its camp, narcissistic resonance.

What was that about sentimentality being the bank holiday of cynicsim?

Anonymous said...

In the modern age of mass communication the people we know best, after relatives and friends, are the people we see a lot on the television and in the newspapers.Therefore we react to their deaths.

The establishment have always approved of the “plebs” showing grief when it suited them. Nelson, Wellington, Queen Victoria, George VI, Churchill, the Queen Mother. Then it is respect, tradition, the wonderful sight of a united, loyal country etc.

When the same people turn out, for the same reasons, for people of whom the establishment does not approve it suddenly becomes weird, embarrassing, un-British, sentimental, sickening etc.

The masses should know their place. How dare they feel a sorrow that is not sanctioned ?

Curmy said...

Iain, for all those who critisise Diana, what were the Royal family thinking of persuading Charles to marry her ?
You could see it was all wrong from the engagement interview.
She was one of the few girls from an upper class background without a lurid past, and she was used to produce an heir and a spare.
I know there were faults on both side, but if the Princes want a pop concert, let them go ahead.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the national reaction would have been different if we weren't in the early days of the Blair Government, when there genuinely was a change in the national mood in general. Also, to some extent the new PM set the tone to the reaction to Diana's death with his 'People's Princess' statement.

Personally, I thought it was a tragedy for the two young sons she left behind, but I couldn't comprehend the public reaction.

Anonymous said...

Oh come off it Iain. She was an emotionally unstable girl, who turned into a manipulative, media-savvy, publicity seeker. Her death was hyped up in the same way that her average looks were in life. If she had survived, over time a greater proportion of the population would have grown tired of her whining and harping.

ian said...

I'm glad they reminded me. I must start arranging my celebrations too.

My enduring memory of her death was that my garage decided to cancel a booked service because of her funeral. I questioned them as to whether Diana had ever driven a Vauxhall* and they had no evidence of that at all.

*it was a company car.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I dont think she was all sweetness and light at all. She knew what she was getting in to and the private lives of the royals. She was unable to come to terms with it and tried to destroy it.A very sad episode but not the end of the world. I agree witth 'Proud to be Anonymous'

Praguetory said...

Like Stephen I didn't appreciate the hectoring around how the Royal Family did or didn't express their grief. Of course the initial news was shocking and sad, but I can't admit to having harboured any what if type thoughts. Her legacy remains - I believe a delusional majority think she was murdered.

Anonymous said...

I heard the news at 37000 feet coming back from Malaga. There was a surreal silence at the baggage carousel at Gatwick and on the train and tube back to North London.

I'm sorry her sons feel the need to have a concert. Why can't she be left to rest in peace?

Anonymous said...

What a right old Charlie, a beautiful princess, and he throws it all away for an ugly old boot! Mind you, arranged marriages are something from history or another land. One thing's for sure, it would not be appropriate for the concert to be called Live Aid. The 10th anniversary of Diana's death will be a time of mixed emotions, the two princes will be mourning whilst Charles will be celebrating his good fortune. Instead of a slipper for Cindrella, he will be putting a horse shoe on his mare...

Anonymous said...

I didn't understand what the fuss was all about. People die every day. she was just a celebrity. I understood that people could feel sad, but the outpouring of grief and complete change of so many TV and radio schedules was beyond ridiculous.

Little Black Sambo said...

"The only thing is, is that Diana's death heralded the end of the Thatcher zeitgeist which could be summed up by the word "moi" in all its camp, narcissistic resonance."

Pseuds' Corner

Little Black Sambo said...

"The only this is, is ..."
One "is" too many.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was all a bit over the top too. It was a sad event, don't get me wrong, but this overt expression of grief just didn't seem to be quite right. I think what annoyed me most was the almost religious worship of her as this perfect icon, which ignored all the many flaws which she undoubtably had.

I think there has been a change to a more outward showing of grief, witness all silences (now up to two minutes instead of one) that we keep being asked to observe. There is an insidious pressure to conform to this.

The appearance of constantly renewed flowers next to the location of every road crash (which has escalated to crosses, teddy bears, photographs etc etc) is another symptom of the same thing.

If it was just that we were more prepared to show emotion then I wouldn't object, but actually I think its all about making a public display.

Anonymous said...

First time I've ever agreed with a Lib-Dem, but Stephen Tall's piece hit the target. I felt like a stranger in my own country because the media coverage led us by the nose to believe we were all South Americans now.

I was shocked and drew back from all this. Now we have the internet and, as Stephen points out so articulately, we would have realised that the show-off grief-stricken, morally superior, public who wanted to dictate terms of grief to the royal family were in the minority.

At the time, I just thought that Diana had died in a car crash with a rather louche individual - in fact, she'd become a rather louche individual herself - so nothing new.

I think all the "grief" was driven by Tony Blair's ghoulish hunger to horn in on someone else's funeral. He wanted to be a national icon in his own right. His speech and behaviour in Westminster Abbey was toe-curling. He made Laurence Olivier's more unguarded moments look demure. (And of course, Blair also tried to crash the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Thankfully, by that time, the Palace had got their act together, and he was repelled.)

Wrinkled Weasel, please explain this: "The only thing is, is that Diana's death heralded the end of the Thatcher zeitgeist which could be summed up by the word "moi" in all its camp, narcissistic resonance."

What on EARTH are you talking about?

Having a memorial concert for Diana is the last thing these two princes should do. Itwill degrade the monarchy. They are already becoming merged, in the public mind, with celebrity personalities. Harry, who seems the more stable of the two, is dating someone called Chelsy for God's sake. The more they sink to celebrity icon level, the sooner will go the royal family.

Prince Charles is between a rock and a hard place here. Of course, he could put a stop to this absurdity - a rock concert for a dead princess - but all the lefty vipers and scorpions would come slithering and crawling out of the cupboard ...

Iain, if you believe Diana had the faintest interest in AIDS, other than photo ops, or land mines, think on. For the land mines ops, she wore a fetching face guard. Did she think the land mines were going to jump out of the ground and attack her head? Rather than blow her legs off?

She was the template for David Cameron.

Stephen Tall's piece was very well done.

Manfarang said...

If Diana had lived:What would be different?
We would be closer to becoming a republic.

Roger Evans said...

I will never forget how hard it was for anyone to express a different opinion at the time - although it has since become more fashionable.

As the opposition leader on a large borough council, I was asked for a dignified statement, which I duly made. The local paper printed it alongside a library photograph which showed me smiling - and I got hate mail from several inadequate wallies who thought the picture betrayed my true sentiments....

Predictably our Lib Dems sunk to a new low by demanding a minute's silence before EVERY council and committee meeting for an entire month, including the smallest panels and working groups. In that unpleasant atmosphere they actually got their way - we were all very relieved when the thirty days was behind us.

Serf said...

When I watched all those blubbing masses on the TV, for the first time ever I felt embarrassed to be British. We are supposed to be the nation of the stiff upper lip, we don't do emotional diarrhoea.

Anonymous said...

"Even now when I think of her I find it difficult to comprehend what happened."

Erm... is it that hard to comprehend? A car goes fast, the driver loses control, the car crashes and the passengers die as a result.

It's something that you'll find happens quite often if you follow normal people's lives instead of just the royals'.

I don't think fame trumps physics, or royalty reality.

Anonymous said...

I didn't believe it either when I heard, but I didn't then make the mistake of thinking her death was all about me and my feelings. The reaching out was the trouble. Not, as Bagehot implied, the monarchy's job. The only upside is that the ravening sheep were soon busy never forgetting someone else.

Anonymous said...

Utterly bizarre, I did not understand the outpouring of emotion then, and the need to have a rock concert as a tenth anniversary. Just smacks of opportunism to show the Royal family's younger members as being hip and relevent. As a republican cynic,I see this as another contingency plan , like Queen Anne of Scotland, turning up to Scotland's Rugby matches, in case the UK splits asunder.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that a great many people felt unease at the manner of the Princess of Wales's death and were completely alienated by the mawkish, media-hyped sobfest that followed. I doubt they put it quite as bluntly as my parents' gardener though: "Bloody embarassing. The mother of our future king running round Paris with a shady arab playboy like some tart".

I genuinely feel sorry for Princes Harry and William, but the idea of a pop concert to mark the anniversary? Surely that goes somewhat against their pleas of a few of years ago to let their mother rest in peace?

Let's quietly honour the good things she did, try and forget the bad ones and get on with our lives.

Anonymous said...

Woman with Borderline Personality Disorder dies in peculiar violent circumstances.

About as surprising as paint drying.

Anonymous said...

"the emotional blackmail of the Royal Family to grieve in a way dictated by the crowd."

Bit like when a Mullah dies in Iran. Coercive conformity. Fascism really.

Anonymous said...

On the theme of "does a pretty but vacuous woman who mouthed platitudes have any relevance to today's society?", I see Politicalbetting has a piece saying that Harriet Harman is the popular choice as deputy leader. However, there is some doubt as to who conducted the poll.

Didn't Iain have a piece once on "to what question could Harriet Harman possibly be the answer?"

Anonymous said...

I agree absolutely with 'proud to be anonymous' and 'verity'.

I was working at a conference on the day of the funeral and watched it on TV with sadness for two young boys who had lost their mother


if these needy people were right and Diana badly treated -do you really think that her sons would show such obvious love for their father? I think not, sons are notoriously fond of their mothers.

Tony Blair made me sick -I just wanted to remind him that our Head of State is THE QUEEN!

What disturbed me most was the great need of so many people to project their emotions onto this flawed and needy young woman. (who was, in the late Nancy Mitford's words, the daughter of a 'bolter'which explains a lot)

As my mother would have said -what would have happened if we had all cried and given way to hysteria in 1940?

No religious faith, let it all hang out, manipulated by unscrupulous politicians for their own ends -why doesn't todays society grow up?

The Queen was doing what any grandmother would have done -comforting her grandsons in the peace of a quiet country home and Tony Blair should have supported her -he is her Prime Minister she is not his Queen.

Anonymous said...

I must say that I am a bit shocked at the pure nastiness of some of the remarks.

Whatever her 'flaws' might have been (and you without sin can cast the first stone), she touched many people's hearts, ergo, the outpouring of emotion.

I suppose Brits really do find expressing emotion embarrassing after all.

By the way, I would be interested in knowing how you all feel about the hooplah that surrounded the death of George Best. A football genius of course and a character to be sure - but did he ever do anything for anybody?

Anonymous said...

"does a pretty but vacuous woman who mouthed platitudes have any relevance to today's society?"

I guess we'd better ask the leaders hadn't we?

Conservatives? Got so bad they had to get the Spice Girls on board for an election campaign.

Labour? Any assortment of luvvies quite a few of whom score highly on the "pretty", "vacuous" and "platitude" sections.

UN? Have you seen the list of special ambassadors? One can only assume that in this instance the word special is being used in olympian terms.

Yep, apparently in dumbed down, Hello! obsessed Britain, pretty but vacuous women mouthing platitudes are relevant.

Anonymous said...

If Diana had died today, at least we would have been spared the last 10 years of the Daily Express going on about it. On the other hand we would have had the next 10 years of the Daily Express going on about it, to look forward too. Diana, you death was a bloody tragedy!

Anonymous said...

If Diana had lived she'd probably have gotten a nice assistant to run a blog for her, and would be, as so many people are, a touchstone for conspiracists, desperate housewives, and fans in search of an icon.

Do not underestimate these people or what they can do if their needs aren't met, including the need to worship.

Having her around was good in that she really did inspire a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have found meaning in life. Whether she was a flawless channel of divinity is not the question, just whether or not people could sometimes find inspiration in her. And they did, by the millions.

Look at the reactions in this thread, for and against: they're all emotional. As an outsider I can say that probably a billion people worldwide had some kind of emotional reaction to her death, whether it was "oh no!" "oh finally!" or "oh shut up already!" She was probably the first person in history whose death affected that many people on an emotional level. That is in itself remarkable.

As for the pressure on the Royal Family to behave a certain way for the benefit of the public; isn't that the business they're in nowadays? You'd think they could at least be professional about it. It's still costing them dearly, in PR terms. Her brother's an ass, but they made him look fabulous by comparison.

You know what, though? If she'd lived, Tony Blair would long ago have divorced Cherie and married her; good for votes.

Anonymous said...

The question "what would we think today?" could be easily answered by looking at the first editions from the morning she died, many of which carried opinion pieces about what an embarrassment she was. If she hadn't died another few years and everyone would have been throughly fed up with her (if they weren't already)

Croydonian said...

Surprise, surprise I was alienated from my fellow Britons by the Diana psychosis of 1997 too.

I imagine the streets would have been lined if she had been going to the scaffold too.

Anonymous said...

Did people cry for Mother Theresa who died at a similar time and did much more charitable work?

Anonymous said...

gasman is right. She was at the top of a downward spiral - her choice of men was appalling and no doubt the press would have turned on her eventually.

No-one has commented yet on another very unpleasant aspect of the whole affair, and that was the applause at the funeral and all along the procession route. It was as if people were regarding it as an entertainment spectacular. What on earth is wrong with to dignified silence?

No pop concert, please!

Scary Biscuits said...

Iain, I wouldn't blame you if you censored this because I know it's an awful thing to say, but I really do think the world has been a better place without Diana. (My apologies to her children.)

She had many great virtues but these were massively outweighed by her flaws.

She did a great deal of damage to the monarchy and the constitution and made it easier for Blair to usurp the constitutional roles of the Queen.

Her emotionalism may have struck a chord with many but it contained a wrong note and most of those who were entranced by her, were not better people as a result.

In her public battle with Charles she embodied the anti-Christian idea, now depressingly fashionable and used almost every day by Blair, that two wrongs make a right.

Finally, her endorsement of fashionable causes was to me her least attractive element. How many of our soliders have come back from Afgahnistan in body bags as a result of her campaign against land mines?

Anonymous said...

If she had died today, no one under 40 would have heard of Elton John.

Anonymous said...

No, Raincoaster, she was probably not the first person in history whose death affected that many people on an emotional level.

That was the death of JFK.

And this is the true measure on where Britain has sunk to in the modern world: that the sudden violent death of a vacuous, manipulative, bulemic, emotionaly immature clothes-horse of a woman chosen as consort to the heir to the throne on the singular grounds that she was that rare modern commodity, a virgin (which one could argue shows nothing except a singular lack of initiative, although if we beleive what we are told she corrected this particular 'fault' afterwards) could stir as much hysterical overreaction as the death of a president who may not have been perfect, but did actually matter in the world.

And you know, if she had indeed lived another ten years before it happened, her looks would have gone, her personal faults and failings would have become much more obvious, and probably her popularity much diminished too. So the public reaction would have been far less hysterical.

Anonymous said...

2br02b, at the time John F. Kennedy died, there three billion people on Earth; his death did not emotionally affect one third of the planet. Not one third of Americans even had televisions. Certainly it was a traumatic event for the US and less so for other western nations, but without the communications technology of ten years ago, it wouldn't have even been possible for most people on the planet to know he was alive at all. Most did not, and certainly they didn't care.

Anonymous said...

I mourned her death. She was a young woman who had been used and who was badly let down by the Royal family. The establishment briefed against her and she found out she was in a marriage without love. Is it any wonder that she then used whatever resources available to her to counteract the powerful forces being used to undermine her. I saw her as a woman who died at a time when she was overcoming the adversity of marrying into this dysfunctional family.

There are many like me who will never forgive the Prince of Wales for how he treated his much younger wife. Neither will I ever forget the role of his present wife. I will never accept her as Queen. Diana's memory will always be with many of us and it is right that the anniversary of her death will be managed by her sons.

Anonymous said...

I think my lasting memory of the Di-steria episode was watching the news with a femail pal. We were about 15 seconds into the newsflash when she turned to me and said: "She died as she lived - on holiday."

Anonymous said...

I've never understood why Di took so much of a kicking. Perhaps I'm being naive - I never had her down as the Heather Mills manipulative type.

I also don't agree that people saw her as an icon of perfection - surely the fact that she had problems and some imperfections meant that people could better relate to her than other royals whose foibles were kept under wraps?

A fair point is made about her work for charity - she certainly didn't miss an opportunity to dress up - but we all try and do something to help charity, and feel guilty that we aren't doing enough. Was she that different ?

I don't agree that William is in danger of being simply a 'celebrity' - he and his cousin Zara Phillips don't have anything in common with, say, those chavs Gavin Henson and Charlotte Church that I can see...

As for turning the country into a South American one - I have to admit that on the day of her funeral I watched all the coverage on telly, and unusually for me wept at some of the sad bits. Some may dismiss that as hysteria, but for most it was a feeling that a beautiful person had been swept away in the prime of their life - would it be a better world if those things didn't move us?

Anonymous said...

"it is right that the anniversary of her death will be....."


" .....managed by her sons."

Gotta keep the Windsor brand 'fresh'!

Anonymous said...

I was 17 at the time, so can get away with blaming it on my age and being easily led.

Anonymous said...

"Not one third of Americans even had televisions."

Raincoaster, I gather you know not of what you speak. Market penetration for TV in the UK had already reached saturation by 1960, three years before Kennedy was assasinated. Saturation is considered to be 95%.

The United States had already reached television saturation by about 1954.

The rest of what you say about the event is rubbish as well:

Kennedy's death was the most traumatic moment in the lives of many millions both inside and outside the United States. It certainly was throughout Western Europe and the rest of what was then called the Free World, the Soviet Union (where the news was instantly broadcast to a background of solumn funereal music on Radio Moscow and Soviet TV) and even in Red China TV and radio. Virtually everyone on the earth knew of President Kennedy, and the shock was truly world wide.

I'm old enough to remember hearing the announcement on BBC radio within minutes of him being declared dead, and it took a long time for many people here to accept it had really happened. I also remember George Brown appearing as Labour spokesman on TV to express deep sorrow; unfortunately he was drunk out of his mind and at any other time that would have been funny.

I think you'd find that by way of contrast, Russia and China paid little attention when Diana died.

In future, stick to things you know something about, there's a good chap.

Anonymous said...

It must be rather galling for all these studied controversialists posing/posting here (who no doubt got a bit of easy attention from their inner circles at the time by making cheap jibes) to find themselves part of a consensus! Time for a rethink lads or who will think you are an independent, radical free spirit ?

The Hitch said...

Who cares?
I dont.

Anonymous said...

Raincoaster, Blair could have divorced Cherie until he burst, but he could never have married Diana who was from an ancient and incredibly wealthy and landed family. He could have struck up a lovely friendship with Paul Burrell, though.

Someone mentioned that their parents' gardner dubbed her a tart running around Paris with a rich Arab playboy. Are you sure he wasn't talking about Heather Mills?

Scary Biscuit - I agree that she was an immensely destructive spirit (and therefore right in tune with Tony Blair). She was a manipulative, spiteful piece of work and she held the Royal Family to ransome. "Do this or I'll do something else to embarrass you and weaken the Monarchy." A rock concert in memoriam would be just her style - although it seems so pointless. Had she lived, she'd have been too old for a rock concert, and the young people today who would enjoy the rock concert were too young to be aware of Diana at the time.

Diana was a major contributor to Permanent Expat's famed Sceptic Isle.

Well, well, Liz. The Royal Family are "dysfunctional", are they? In what way? Do tell us, from the point of view of your close association with them and your insider knowledge. To most of us, they seem rather middle class and dull. Nothing close to the scandalous Edwardians.

Anonymous 1:19 - You watched the funeral and wept at "some of the sad bits"? That you had to pick the sad bits, like choosing a chocolate, at a funeral is rather telling in itself. Personally, I had a good laugh at Elton John singing his recycled song, Candle in The Wind, which he wrote for Marilyn Monroe. Now, Marilyn really was a touching, lost and sad figure. Diana was manipulate and spiteful. And whoah! - how many men had keys to the back door of Kensington Palace, eh?

A rock concert is very much on Diana's level. Show biz. The kids who attend won't really have any memories of her. And really, they should give a concert for this week's basket case nation. Diana would have wanted it that way.

Anonymous said...

All part of the dreadful corporate sentimentality industry. I was due to attend a silver wedding the day of the funeral which the venue proposed to cancel so the staff could watch the funeral. They weren´t for changing even when told some guests had come from New Zealand. At last they agreed, but we had to wait four hours. That was the public sector. I have despised those led by the media ever since.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I remember being upset by her death, as who could not be? To die so young and leave two sons was tragic. But what amazed me at the time was the number of people who grieved as if they had known her personally. One woman from my home town said it had affected her "more than the deaths of people in my own family" and this was one of the most ridiculous things I heard anyone say. I think a lot of it was because, for the first time, we had a generation who had reached middle age without having known personal bereavement. I also remember being gobsmacked at people in London talking about the "atmosphere" being good - for all the world as if they were at a coronation or a wedding, not a funeral! It was all unreal to them, somehow. I think blogging would have made a difference, yes; it might have injected some common sense into it all.

Anonymous said...

I was delighted to be flying out of the country that Sunday morning (at about 7 am). The emotional hysteria from people who didn't even like her that much was just plain crazy. Like some sort of frenzy of people all trying to "join in" with everyone else in some sort of "mass mourn". It turned my stomach somewhat to see the press, the very same press that had paid reporters to chase her through that tunnel then try and turn it all on to the Queen and all claim to have been on Diana's side.

I always put it down to mass guilt. I never thought much of her so I never bought a newspaper that featured bnude holiday snaps of her a secretly taken photos of her with some new bloke or some kiss and tell from an ex. Millions did, then they all felt guilty for the fact that they had driven her to it.

I felt most sorry for her sons, and sorry that their sorrow got somehow overtaken by others.

Anonymous said...

"I don't agree that William is in danger of being simply a 'celebrity' - he and his cousin Zara Phillips don't have anything in common with, say, those chavs Gavin Henson and Charlotte Church that I can see..."

Yes. I wouldn't lower Gavin Henson to Prince William's level. He has a talent for playing rugby at a world class level.

Prince William is a celebrity. Someone who is famous for who they are, rather than what they've done. He has more in common with Coleen McLoughlin or Nicole Richie.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:35 says: "Prince William is a celebrity. Someone who is famous for who they are, rather than what they've done."

Well, when you're an heir apparent to a throne, you do tend to be famous from birth. And although there is the Z-list dross, most celebrities are actually famous for achievement.

I don't like William because he is too Dianesque. The 'caring prince'. Whereas his mother had the tagline "the people's princess", kindly accorded her by Tony Blair, who made Sarah Bernhardt look insecure and understated. Between him and Elton John, what a queenfest, eh?

Welshcakeslimoncello makes some good points. Most people today do indeed reach middle age untouched by family bereavement. This is a very interesting observation, because it argues a superficiality among the populace in general, and I agree. They have never been touched by tragedy. (I'm not saying I'd wish it otherwise, but it's an incisive point that she makes.)

But Diana didn't die because she was "driven to it". She wasn't driven to consorting with a rich Hollywood playboy Arab whose father owns The Ritz in Paris. Can you imagine how empty, how very vacuous their conversations would have been? She wasn't driven by the British public to ride around Paris aimlessly with her boyfriend, going in and out of jewellery stores, changing their minds about where to dine. She did it all of her own free will.

Welshcakes adds: "I remember being upset by her death, as who could not be?" Well, me, for one. I thought she was an egomaniacal troublemaker who had a very mean streak. I can't say I rejoiced at her death, but I didn't feel a single pang of sorrow. I did feel sorry for the two young princes though, who clearly adored their mother.

Anonymous said...

I never met Diana so why on earth would I and millions of others react in this way?

Do you feel so sympathetic towards all those with Borderline Personality Disorder or just the rich and pampered ones ?

Frankly I was so relieved to escape to Germany and leave the sickness behind on the was so cloyingly mawkish and media-manipulated..............poor old Express hasn't been able to find the 'Off'-switch

Anonymous said...

The mawkishness surrounding Diana's death, though, unhappily lives on. A child murdered (horrible thought!), why, make everything OK by leaving flowers and teddy bears outside the family home. That should cheer the parents up!

The gross, facile sentimentality that overtook England in particular when Diana died has found a welcoming home in Britain. The days of stiff upper lip and "don't make a display" are well and truly over.

kris said...

it's a gay man thing. Diana was princess of sorrows. The bulimia, the unrequited love for Charles, the cads she subsequently dated, her throwing herself into unfashionable charity work.

She was there for Michael Barrymore when he came out and was struggling with alcoholism and she did seem like a very average, albeit tortured soul who just needed a few friends.

Diana had a down to earth aura(maybe concocted by the media) that she could befriend anyone at her local OA meeting.

That is why people were drawn to her and esp why gay men loved her- they could identify.

Give the woman a break.

Anonymous said...

Kris - She doesn't need a break. She's dead.

On the other hand, yes, the drama queen aspect did appeal to gays, as did the victim aspect.

I remember the day after she died, or the day after that - whatever - someone in my office said, "I wonder how long it will take before she looks dated." Interesting question, given that although she's been dead for 10 years, she does not look at all dated. The photos takne of her in her final couple of years could have been taken yesterday.

Anonymous said...

This thread is like reading letters page of Izvestia when they fearlessly debated the pros and cons of the communist party.

Anonymous said...

Come on F.R.,

Nobody's mentioned conspiracy theories yet!

Anonymous said...

Verity: "But Diana didn't die because she was "driven to it"."

Well, to be brutal, she was driven to it. Literally. At high speed. And 'it' was a pillar.

Anonymous said...

I never liked Diana whilst she was alive, and saw through the "looking under her finge" facade that she employed both before and after her marriage. I deplored her interview when she talked about three people in the marriage. Diana behaved disgracefully with Will Carling, the doctor from Pakistan (remember pictures in the operating theatre?) and the married bloke Oliver something? I was fed up with my supermarket when they closed on the day of her funeral, as I had to shop for my family on my lunch break. The bare truth is, her death was a tragedy for her family (and my heart goes out to them), but didn't affect any one of us. There are a handful of people she spoke to, but all letters would have been through her staff and not her. Mohammed Fayed still grieves for his son, and I, as a parent, understand that, but the Daily Express should come out from under his shadow and influence, think about the families (especially William and Harry) and stop the constant conspiracy theories. Nothing good can come of constantly dredging up an appalling tragedy and trying to assign sinister connotations to it.

Anonymous said...

That we know of, there was that major from the Army - the cad - can't remember his name offhand. And Will Carling, who had only been married for a couple of months, but what the hell,Diana wanted him.

And there was the Pakistani heart surgeon who let Diana into the operating room wearing industrial strength mascara. And Rupert someone who owned an antique shop. I seem to remember another one but can't think of a name.

And there must have been several others as her butler said she used to have imginary starting gates for them.

Still, it's mean to speak ill of the dead. Personally, I wouldn't dream of it.

Anonymous said...

I was in the middle of a really good shag at the time, and therefore was not best pleased at the timeing of the news. Dont ask why I had the radio on at the time. I think it was so I could keep in touch with the cricket results or something.

On the day of the burial I went fishing and bagged up over 30 pounds of fish. Still a personal record.

This whole episode was a testiment to the then power of the British media and the BBC in particular. A power it no longer has, and hopefully never will again. After all the BBC was on a roll back then, they had just got their Tone the top job and the royals on the ropes. Christmas came early that year at the BEEB.

However I will be on the streets crying like a baby for the sainted Lady Thatcher whether the bastards at the BBC care or not. As will I hope most of the readers of this blogg.

Iain I know will be there with us. An emotional tart like him would never miss an opertunity to express his sensitivity/female side to the world.

Iain would you now cry for Diana in the same way you did then?

Remember WE lost very little that day, but two still boys lost their only mother. They are men now, and if they can take it with dignity why could not the British public?

My sad thoughts that day were compleatly for the children she left behind to face the world motherless. I felt not a little angry that she had been so carelessly irresponsible to her own sons by putting her own life in such danger for any reason. An opinion I will still have whether she was murdered or not.

Anonymous said...

Francis Walsingham - Earl Spencer's remarks were dramatic and angry, but they didn't have the potential to do anything at all. He seemed to be blaming the royal family for Diana riding aimlessly around Paris with her rich Arab boyfriend and having dinner at the boyfriend's father's Ritz Hotel and then driving on somewhere else ... on the British Royal Family instead of Diana, who was 35 and divorced at the time.

In fact, I didn't understand why she had a state funeral, given she wasn't a member of the royal family and wasn't even styled HRH any more. And Elton John playing the piano in Westminster Abbey and singing a song he'd written years before for Marilyn Monroe. The last word in tacky. In fact, much as I didn't like her, she didn't deserve having a recycled song written for Marilyn Monroe played in Westminster Abbey at her funeral. No wonder Earl Spencer was so aggrieved.

I don't think for a minute that Blair "decided to support the Queen" given that our Queen is HM with or without the "support" of T Blair, Esq. I think he wanted to horn in on the act. As he wanted to get in on the drama of the death of the Queen Mother later.

When the royal family, having got Blair's number by then, said, "Thanks, but no thanks", he persisted, asking whether he should go down and mingle with the the people queuing to pay their respects, comforting them. The answer was still "No." And he persisted until the very, very last minute - begging to mingle - and the person in charge - a military man, I think, but can't remember his name - said something along the lines of, "He can do what he likes, but the Queen will be arriving in two minutes, and once she is inside the Abbey, he won't be able to get in."

Naturally, Tony opted to be in. What a slithering little creep.

Anonymous said...

So Diana is to get a pop concert - big deal, Eva Peron got a musical. Next time you listen to the sound track imagine Diana as Evita - she fits the role rather to well. At least Diana's memorial was finished (even if it was so dangerous it dad to be closed. The most memorable part of the whole episode was the hilarious Private Eye front page.

Anonymous said...

Gary Powell - what an interesting post, no matter how you were engaged when the news came through.

I agree with your analysis that the Beeb was on a roll because they'd got their Tone plugged in - plus Alastair Campbell was king of the media world.

You are correct that the bbc will never have such power again. Stations such as 18 Doughty Street will begin to munch away into their beams. Mild now, but these things grow at a bewildering pace. Let's see Doughty Street a year from now.

Blair's desire to "preserve the Atlantic alliance" can be described in four words: "Gie us a job."

I agree with you that it was sickening that the "caring" Diana left her two little boys without a mother while trying to decide what to do after dinner in Paris. And it was so obvious that they adored her. (To her credit, it must be said.)

Personally, I was amused by Tony Blair, only prime minister for a few weeks, turning up, uninvited, at Northolt for Diana's coffin to come home. I watched it with hatred.

Her sisters and HRH were there, obviously begrieved, and Tony Blair, dressed in a long black overcoat, a la Churchill at Yalta, always with the costumes, on the sidelines. As it was a family affair, no one said a word to him. They didn't even notice him, stuck on the periphery of the airfield and, being new to the post,not knowing what to do but trying to look grave, like anyone cared, by biting his lip.

And Prince Charles and Diana's two sisters were totally engaged with one another, not even aware that a disposable Tony Blair was posing on the sidelines in his Yalta overcoat.

Even if I hadn't got Blair's number before that, I'd have gotten it then.

Anonymous said...

I have not seen such viciousness in a long time, not to mention misogyny. Completely distasteful.

Can anyone debate without getting so excrutiatingly vile and personal?

And for that last remark - berating her for getting herself killed. Vile, utterly vile.

Anonymous said...

2br02b, it's quite obvious that whatever you felt about Kennedy's death, you're certainly reacting emotionally to Diana's as well, or you wouldn't feel the need to keep coming back with put-downs.

Your figures conveniently overlook the entire Southern Hemisphere, and as where I live is over 85% Chinese (in fact, it is 70% Chinese over the age of sixty) I can tell you exactly what the Chinese thought, because I asked them. They thought it meant that Communism would spread further through conquest, and I don't need to tell you that not all of them thought that was the best news they'd ever heard.

I said that it was likely a billion people had an emotional reaction to Diana's death, and that it is unlikely a billion people even knew of Kennedy's death at the time. The emotional impact of Diana's life and death were in large part attributable to her media presence, which was itself only made possible by the ubiquity of media in our lives. This is most clearly demonstrated, actually, in the Nixon/Kennedy debates; people who heard them on the radio thought Nixon had won handily, while those who watched them on television thought Kennedy had. Kennedy had a media gift like Diana's, but far less opportunity to exercise it.

Unless we want to play "I can interview more old people than you" it's going to have to come down to two things: how many people were aware, and how many people were emotionally involved. In both cases the numbers for Kennedy are far smaller, simply because there were far fewer people around and they were not as well-connected through the media to those in question.

If you really want to claim Diana's death didn't impact people emotionally, it's probably best to refrain from becoming emotional about it yourself.

Anonymous said...

This isn't directed at you Iain, as I'm sure you don't fall into this category, but aren't those who behaved in this "OTT" manner clearly devoid of their own icon ? Are their lives lacking sometning ?

Those that saw her picture (usually in the Daily Mail) were emphathising with somebody they didn't know or had never spoke to. The whole "she campaigned on important issues" are just deluding themselves.

There are many others who have campaigned on the same issues and have passed away since. Yet, because they were not stunners (i.e. Mother Theresa) people said far less when they left us.

The whole Diana hysteria seems linked to the whole "Hello" and "OK" idea of adoring those that we never know and never will know. Just because there is a photographer or two constanly around, doesn't mean they are special.

Anonymous said...

Lady Finchley, as OTT as ever. She writes: "I have not seen such viciousness in a long time, not to mention misogyny."

Wha'? Many of us here are mentioning our dislike of one publicity hungry, self-serving woman. This is ascribed to hatred of 50% of the world's population? Some of us disliked this one particular woman out of around 2.5 bn women. Dubbing our dislike misogyny is ignorant.

"Can anyone debate without getting so excrutiatingly vile and personal?" Debate? This is a debate? Some of us are expressing our dislike of Diana. Others are trying to analyse her appeal. No one, so far as I can detect, is debating anything, hoping to persuade others to our point of view. Our attitudes to Diana are frozen in amber. She was a polarising person. I happen to think she was sly and manipulative.

Anonymous said...

Earl Spencer - you mean the one that has left two wives?

The one that dumped an anorexic wife to fend for herself?

The one who refused his much loved and saintly sister a house on his estate to live in?

If he had given her the house perhaps she might not have been in Paris.

This is the earl Spencer who is such a caring uncle that he can be trusted with two boys when he deserts his own?

Give me strength - and the Queen gets criticised for staying in SCotland trying to comfort them.

Which one of you making Diana into a heroine and Charles a villain and the Queen uncaring has such perfect family lives that you can criticise others? Only the people concerned know what really went on. LIfe isn't a fairy tale its dirty, messy and loving and glorious and -you cannot live it through other people royalty or not.
and sorry - Tony Blair milked every last moment of it if you think he cares then why isn't he out there meeting the coffins coming back from Iraq?

Why wasn't he there for Mrs. Kelly?

Anonymous said...

Good question, Anstice. Why isn't he going on television meeting the coffins from Iraq? He's got the long black overcoat. (You can tell he got his ideas about what a statesman should wear from old movies. That's where he got the clipped,David Niven accent he uses in the United States,as well.)

OTOH, I doubt very much whether Mrs Kelly would allow Blair past her gate. And he wouldn't dare. He wouldn't even dare think about it. He would scuttle very quickly away from the thought.

Anonymous said...

i have to admit Iain - it affected me as well. I'll never forget where i was when i first heard about it.

funny thing is - i'm an utter unreconstructed Republican with zero love for all things monarchy.
maybe it was because of her icon status - she really was a pop star in the true "pop" sense of the word.

Anonymous said...

Funny how most of the Republicans (probably EU federalist types as well)goby the name of "Anonymous".


Anonymous said...


I am usually cheering you from the sidelines but this time, you and the others have gone way too far. Vicious and nasty.

And for all those who have berated her for leaving her two boys (she died for f..k's sake,she didn't run off) what about the father, the spoiled brat Prince Charles, who is so weak that he didn't do the right thing about Camilla in the first place, then meekly did his daddy's bidding by marrying a girl he clearly didn't love, treated her callously and carried on with Camilla throughout. Was he with his sons when he was off shagging Camilla?

I met Diana on several occasions and she was an extremely charismatic person. No saint, of course, but then who is? I don't care what you think her motives are (all you armchair psychiatrists), she made a lot of people feel good, and if she did nothing else, that is a huge accomplishment.

With all due respect Verity (and as much as I enjoy and very often agree with your postings), it is you that is always OTT. Your dislike for all things Muslim borders on the pathological. Entertaining as I find it.

This posting has certainly bought out the worst in people.

Who is to say that other people's emotions are not genuine and while I can't understand the people who said they were more affected by Diana's death than by death in their own family, I'd rather see an outpouring of emotion than cold indifference. What a disagreeable bunch you all are.

Anonymous said...

I don't recall anyone berating her for leaving her two boys. That she loved them to bits was evident from everything she did.

She was, however, a self-centered, self-righteous, self-dramatist and I found her posing as demure when she had wrecked the Carlings' new marriage and was sleeping with several different men absolutely absurd.

As it happens, I have always thought Prince Charles an indecisive wimp for not committing to Camilla all those years ago.

That aside, I found Diana a toxic poseur.

How many Muslim countries have you lived in Lady Finchley?

Anonymous said...

lady finchley - I think you are OTT -most people here are expressing their frustration that they were not allowed to express at the time because the emotional PC brigade caused so much havoc! People forbidden to do things children told off for playing etc, etc,.

Of course Diana had her good points
but she also had her faults -why do you, for instance criticise Prince Charles so nastily? He is the product of his upbringing just as Diana was -togther they just brought out the worst -this type of thing is played out in many marriages made for hasty or wrong reasons -it is terribly sad. Her death was terribly sad and no one here rejoices in it -perhaps she could have made her life more meangingful given time -but it wasn't exactly wise rushing around Paris with a wellknown playboy.

What most of are saying is that like it or not thousands of people , unable to express emtoion or desperately looking for some kind of expression of self jumped on to an hysterical bandwagon whipped up by the media (who made money from it) and politicians (made capital out of it)it appeared as if they were trying to outdo each other in grief -whereas most of us prefer to keep our grief over things privately.

Unrestrained emotion can be very dangerous - look at recent riots religious and secular!

many people remarry after disastrous marriages why shouldn't Charles - many people are admired despite numerous mistresses, lovers and bad behaviour! Why pick on one -he only had one after all -and gave into pressure from family -which of us haven't done that?

Anonymous said...

We already live in one, Verity!

Anonymous said...

Lady Finchley - D'acuerdo. But you live in one. I don't. Like around 3m others, I saw the writing on the wall and fled.

Anstice - a well-reasoned post. No one was allowed to say a word, or even snigger at Elton John and T Blair, Esq for their performances at Westminster Abbey. The mob would have turned on one. Supermarkets were closed "out of respect"? Respect for what? And did these establishments dare to take on the mantle of speaking for me? I wanted to pick things up "out of respect" for the fact that I'd run out of them. This all fitted in with ZA-NuLab's 'thought police' MO. It was a way of controlling the population and quelling dissenting voices.

Anonymous said...

I felt and still feel deep sorry at the loss of Diana. I focus on her kindness towards less fortunate people, her fund raising abilities, and the way she tried to make this a better world.
It is easy to say, 9 years later, that the BBC went overboard. The BBC saw the public reaction and reported what they saw. At the time, many millions watched the funeral and reacted to her death.
She was a young woman who only wanted her husband to love her solely and to have a happy marriage.
I think if she died today, we would have had the same reaction because I truly believe Diana would have done so much more good to change this world.
Lisa from the USA

Anonymous said...


Unrestrained emotion is dangerous?

I bet life is real barrel of laughs with you. Do you and the missus shake hands before retiring?

It might not be 'wise' to be with an international playboy but maybe it was great fun. Maybe he was a better shag than Chas!

Live and let live, I say. If you want to walk around with a pole up your butt, fine with me, but it's my party and I'll cry if I want to!


Anonymous said...

Oh dear!

Does personal invective make you feel happy?

Its a husband I go to bed with actually -and a lot of fun we have too.

Of course I meant unrestrained emotion that is whipped up by agitators for a reason of their own.

One only has to look at some recent crowd stirring.

Why is it that if anyone diagrees they are personally insulted?

If Diana set herself up publically -and she could have privately retired after her divorce and not sought publicity -then judged by the public she must be.

You are not separating peoples' genuine sadness at the death of a young mother - and the acknowledgement that she was not perfect and yet had been taken over as some sort of icon ignoring the flaws. One can only truly grieve at the death of someone known thoroughly and loved -no one knew Diana thoroughly apart from her family -and I do not include those disgusting creatures selling stories that probably are not true and bleating about their 'friendship'. She was not a good judge of character -but then many of us are not.

If it makes you feel better then cry on -we are just saying that we objected to the fascism that insisted we all feel something that we definitely did not

and I repeat -this does not mean that we did not regret the death of this woman and felt sad but regret and sadness are not unrestrained grief.

If great shagging is the only yardstick in life -how boring that must be -one of the greatest aphrodisiacs is laughter -and I thank God there has been plenty of that in my life.

Anonymous said...

Sense of humour by pass too? It was a j-o-k-e - just trying to insert a little levity into a very bad tempered, nasty thread.


Anonymous said...

"Maybe he was a better shag than Chas!" Well, Diana would know, having garnered a lot of experience in that department. That major - what was his name? - and Will Carling and the Pakistani heart surgeon. Then there was the antique dealer. And Dodi, of course. And the butler has indicated that there were a few others.

And yes, such unrestrained mass emotion is very dangerous and I was astounded to see the British behaving like Argentinians on the death of Evita. It was toe-curling. If someone had taken a lead and told them to storm Buckingham Palace, they would have done it. Yuck.

Anstice says: "and I repeat -this does not mean that we did not regret the death of this woman and felt sad but regret and sadness are not unrestrained grief."

Include me out. I didn't feel sad. I felt annoyed at all the inconvenience I was put to because a vapid woman had had a car crash in Paris while cruising around the city aimlessly with her equally empty Arab boyfriend. If she was so publicity shy, why was she dining at the Ritz? I'm sure they had a full kitchen staff at Mo Fayed's house in the Bois de Boulogne. Or she could have put on a black wig and they could have gone to one of the dozens of nice little restaurants in Paris with no one particularly noticing them.

Anyway, this isn't about Diana. It's about the repellent behaviour of the English.

Anonymous said...


I violently disagree with you this time but I do love your way with words!

Anonymous said...

ALL the coverage over the past years misses the boring, unsentimental, but (with 5 seconds' thought) obvious point:

Diana died ONLY because she didn't bother wearing her seat belt. It was a tragedy, but IT WAS HER OWN FAULT. PERIOD. THAT'S IT.

She was riding in the back seat of a heavy but padded armored vehicle. The guy wearing his seat belt lived. The ones who didn't died. As my teenager says, rolling her eyes, DUHH!!

Yes, it's a tragedy that 2 boys lost their mother. But no more or less than any other unnecessary traffic death.

It doesn't matter who she was with, or whether she should've been there, or whether she was chased, or anything else. Snap that little metal hook into its buckle, and ion that tank of a vehicle, Diana survives almost anything but a plunge into the Seine or an IED in Baghdad.

So, grieve all you want, but at very least think about your family the next time you get into a vehicle. It was Diana's responsibility to her family, and it's yours.

Can we all just move on now? I'll skip the concert.

Anonymous said...

The guy wearing his seat belt lived. The ones who didn't died.

Yet again, this myth that the survivor of the crash was wearing a seat belt.

He wasn't.

As both the original French investigation and the more recent British investigation make clear, none of the occupants of the car wore seatbelts.

It's extraordinary how a single incorrect report can become embedded and accepted as fact.