Monday, August 27, 2007

Princess Diana

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

It's an odd sort of anniversary for me. Although I was a huge fan of hers from the time she burst onto the scene wearing (figuratively) the glass slippers, my feelings had undergone a complete reversal by the time of her death. Well I guess a lot changes between 13 and 38.

I want to post at length later in the week, but here are some random thoughts:

1. I knew Diana's fate was sealed when, during the Panorama interview, she intimated that the succession should bypass Charles and go directly to William.

2. The paparazzi have been blamed. Henri Paul has been blamed. But the truth is, as other authors have written, Diana would never have died in Paris if she had kept her British security detail with her because they never would have allowed her driver to go at that speed.

3. Charles has been unfairly blamed for Diana's psychological problems. It is one of the toughest things in the world to live with a mentally ill spouse who refuses to get help or admit they have a problem. A look at the fault lines in the Spencer family architecture provides ample evidence of where the cause of Diana's troubles really lay. The Spencers created the problem. Charles got stuck cleaning it up.

4. I was appalled at Earl Spencer's funeral address and remain appalled. A man who could not treat his own, now ex-, wife with dignity and kindness has the nerve to lecture the Royal Family on how to behave? And in public? Please.

5. The memory of the real Diana remains obscured behind the glare of the public's projections. In general people can't handle difficult truths. The public doesn't want to believe that Diana was genuinely mentally ill and required serious treatment.

6. I can't respect the fact that she tried to tear down the institution that she wanted her son to head one day. That is colossally irresponsible.

7. No matter how you spin it or what motives you assign, they way Frances Shand-Kydd left Diana's father -- to be with another man -- was a catastrophic mistake. It was something Frances could never admit when she was alive, apparently and a point most writers, whether pro- or anti-Diana, seem to gloss over. But this one action, which kicked off all the consequences that followed, seems to have forever destroyed Diana's ability to be whole. Please don't believe I'm saying Frances should have stayed with an abusive husband. I've known women who had abusive husbands. They didn't wait around for a man to rescue them. They left. The scooped up their babies, left their belongings, and left. Maybe they would get their belongings later. Maybe not. But they knew what their priorities were. Their children. Everything else was just stuff. I don't understand why a woman, who allegedly had her own money, didn't just grab her children and run. And even if you say she was afraid to do it alone, then I say fine, find a friend or find a man who isn't married. When Frances became involved with Peter Shand-Kydd she made herself vulnerable to being branded an adulteress and losing custody of her children. Which is what happened. While I hope she and Diana are both at peace now let's not let sentiment blind us to the truth.

But that's enough for one night.

More later in this anniversary week...

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