SCANDAL! OUTRAGE! Insensitive UK television channel to screen photos of Princess Diana dying in the Mercedes Benz. The princes said to be very upset about the decision. British red-tops slam highbrow arty-farty network for its heartlessness. Channel Four defends sensationalist images as an important contribution to the debate.
Come on, people. Ten years on, can’t we all just forget about Princess Diana? Whose candle burnt out long before the whinging ever did.
I can’t help but agree with the perspective that it’s a little tacky to screen pics of Di moments away from expiring. Not because I particularly care about the princes’ sensitivity – they’re old enough and rich enough to look after themselves, and they’re most welcome not to tune in. My main concern is that a decade after her death, it’s time to stop endlessly raking over the coals. We’ve had far too many darn coronial enquiries, conspiracy theories and pointless documentary recreations of Di’s life already. Like JFK, this is one of those supposed mysteries that will never be fully solved, and where the popularly-accepted explanation is in all probability the right one.
During her life, Diana enjoyed won more interest and popularity than she really had any right to expect. Her support for charity, while laudable in the sense that she did more than most, is fairly standard for royals. It’s the least they can do, really, given the amount they’re funded from the public purse.
In death, the intense interest in her snowballed into pure hysteria. The mass outpouring of grief was on a scale I can’t remember seeing for the death of one person. In some respects, certainly in terms of getting people onto the streets, it dwarfed even the response to the tsunami and 9/11. It was a reaction I couldn’t understand at the time, and a decade later, it seems all the more baffling.
But with the tenth anniversary arriving in a few months (31 August), we should brace ourselves for Dianamania yet again. William and Harry are holding a massive charity conference at Wembley on her birthday, 1 July, with the usual avalanche of celebrity names. Andrew Lloyd Webber will be performing, and it’s even rumoured that Elton will sing the Diana version of Candle In the Wind for only the second time, if that floats your boat.
Personally, I’ll be staying far, far away from any commemoration of Diana, even one that seems to be for a multitude of good causes. We really should stop gushing with praise for royalty. Australia’s fawning over Princess Mary has been cringeworthy – the point that she was an ordinary Aussie having been the basis for more fuss being made, rather than less fuss as I’d have thought was warranted. If we really are going to become a republic, if we really are going to become a society where people achieve prominence on the basis of what they’ve achieved rather than who they’ve married, then stopping caring about Princess Di seems like a terrific place to start.