She was an “injured angel who sometimes sinned.” Those were the words of the doyen of English journalists Lord Deedes, whose death was announced a few weeks ago. Bill Deedes was Diana’s greatest champion and wouldn’t hear a word against her.
As the world remembers her today, on the tenth anniversary of her death in a Paris road accident, it is clear that she is still mourned by millions of ordinary people who had never met her yet whose lives she touched in miraculous ways.
Her beauty, her grace, her charm and her ability to connect with people less fortunate than herself should have made her a role model for the anal retentive family she inherited on her marriage to Charles Windsor. The ill-fated union was organized by his grandmother, the Queen Mother and Diana’s grandmother, Ruth Fermoy, an arch snob of the old school who just happened to be the Queen Mother’s oldest friend as well as her lady in waiting.
Watch Red Symons’ lyrical video tribute to the people’s princess one more time here.
Most of the descriptions of Diana’s ‘humble’ childhood miss the point that she knew and was known by the royal family since her birth, which took place in a house lived in by her parents on the royal family’s holiday estate, Sandringham.
Diana had known the Queen and her family all her life and in fact, her mother in law to be was the godmother of Diana’s only brother, Charles Spencer.
So she knew what she was marrying into – a family so dysfunctional that three of the monarch’s children’s marriages were failures along with her only sister’s.
She knew that when her husband-to-be was only a toddler his mother and father took off on a nine month long world tour and when they returned his mother couldn’t bring herself to hug her son in public! The boy had probably forgotten who she was.
And it has now been revealed that only a week before her “fairytale” wedding to the heir of the British throne she realized she was hurtling headfirst into a loveless union and admitted as much to one of her sisters who had in fact had an earlier relationship with the bridegroom.
Diana’s ever practical sister said: “Too late Dutch (Diana’s family nickname), your face is already on all the tea towels.”
The rest as they say is history.
The couple had absolutely nothing in common. As much as members of the royal family tried – they couldn’t strike a common chord with the new arrival. Charles was again seeing his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles – Australia’s next queen if we remain a monarchy – and as Diana once remarked – the marriage was crowded.
Had the royal family put aside their centuries of isolation from reality, they could have welcomed this girl with open arms and polished their tarnished, isolationist image. But it wasn’t to be and she was driven out and some would say, driven mad.
So this weekend, we will see the Queen – who wanted Diana to have a private “no fuss” funeral – and some members of her family pay homage at a memorial service organized by her beloved sons, William and Harry.
If her in-laws think her memory will be put to rest they have another thing coming. Diana, Princess of Wales has achieved the immortality of John Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.
May it ever be thus.
Dr Giselle Bastin and Barry Everingham will hold a panel discussion on Princess Diana on Radio National’s Australia Talks tonight at 6.10pm. Listeners will be invited to call in during the discussion.