Diana Revisionism

I’ve managed to avoid any TV programmes and articles on the subject, but we’ve recently had the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death. I remember it well, particularly the shameful “outpouring of grief” that followed, whereby millions of seemingly sane and ordinary people with no connection to the promiscuous princess wept in the streets. Since then, the mass feigning of grief in order to feel part of something has become a recurring theme in British life, and has spread to other English-speaking countries (witness the embarrassing scenes in Australia following the death of cricketer Phil Hughes). For me, the death of Diana (or rather, what followed) marked a turning point in Britain becoming something of a joke. I always found it hard to take the British public seriously after that.

I have a Ukrainian friend who for some reason has a strong interest in the British royal family. She was rather surprised when I told her that before she died, Diana was an unpopular and rather divisive figure. Many people, myself included, thought she was an embarrassment and I was particularly annoyed with her muddle-headed campaign to ban land-mines, a subject she knew nothing about. She went to Africa and encountered victims of the millions of Soviet and Chinese landmines scattered willy-nilly around the continent’s many war zones, then returned home and harangued the British Army – who carefully map their minefields, and use them only for essential defensive purposes – into giving them up. My initial reaction to her untimely death, before it transpired she’d got into a car driven too fast by a guy who was drunk, was that she’d stepped on the toes of somebody with a considerable interest in land mines.

The idea that Diana was universally loved and adored is pure revisionism (see PCar’s comment here for example). In the months preceding her death, Viz ran an amusing series called “The Queen of Hearts” which used photos of her with fictitious captions. One of them was of her holding the leg of an African child in a hospital:

Diana: Is this your leg?

Child: Yes.

Diana: Is it supposed to be that colour?

Child: Yes.

They also took the piss via spoof collectible offers, such as The Lady Diana Pubic Soap of Hearts.

Then there was this incredible correction issued by the National Enquirer after news came in that she was dead:

The switch of stance typifies the tabloids’ reaction to Diana’s death, and since then there has been nothing but whitewashing.

The other thing I find annoying about Diana, one a bit closer to home, is the way her sycophantic admirers have hijacked the Flame of Liberty in Paris:

The Flame of Liberty (Flamme de la Liberté) in Paris is a full-sized, gold-leaf-covered replica of the new flame at the upper end of the torch carried in the hand of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) at the entrance to the harbor of New York City since 1886. The monument, which measures approximately 3.5 metres in height, is a sculpture of a flame, executed in gilded copper, supported by a pedestal of gray-and-black marble. It is located near the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, on the Place de l’Alma, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

The Flame of Liberty became an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales after her 1997 death in the tunnel beneath the Pont de l’Alma (see death of Diana, Princess of Wales)[3] The flame became an attraction for tourists and followers of Diana, who fly-posted the base with commemorative material. Anthropologist Guy Lesoeurs said, “Most people who come here think this was built for her.”

They’ve even had to add a separate plaque nearby half-acknowledging the monument’s unofficial role as a Diana memorial. However, this annoyance is tempered somewhat by recalling the response of the French authorities when it was suggested that the design of the Alma Tunnel was unsafe and contributed to her death, along the lines of:

“There’s nothing wrong with the tunnel if you don’t drive through it at suicidal speeds.”

With characteristic French stubbornness they resisted calls to alter the tunnel, and it remains unchanged to this day.

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36 thoughts on “Diana Revisionism

  1. I think that an aspect to it is the modern fear of death. We have managed to so effectively sanitise our lives that death feels like it shouldn’t be a part of the process.

    So when a celebrity dies it puts into perspective this horrible truth. And thus we have what seem to be public outpourings of grief for the recently departed, but which also serve quite powerfully as public grief of one’s own mortality. Even the beautiful people die too. Whowoulddathoughit?

    Witness the countless outpouring of grief for celebrities dying of this strange illness called old age. David Bowie was a classic, (yeah I know it was the Big C but he was old and you gotta die of something). It just went on and on and on. God help us when Paul from the boring Beatles kicks the bucket.

    And here we have Diana’s death 20 years later and they’re still going on about it. Since when was 20 a significant anniversary? Since the time when if we had to wait for an actual significant number then the majority of the people carrying on like twits right now would be dead.

    Which is the entire point.

    Also, who remembers the seemingly endless numbers of awesome Diana jokes? My favorite:

    What does Diana stand for?
    Died in a nasty accident.

  2. I started going out with a girlfriend on the day of the funeral – I was told that I should not have done so – a really weird state point of view. (Actually it was a great day to do so, the park was almost empty).

  3. I was flying home to Hong Kong that morning. When I landed, I put on the TV and assumed the country of my birth had gone insane.

    Stewart Lee got it about right; https://youtu.be/U1H913UqQ6w

    Actually, it’s also one of the rare occasions I’ve agreed with John Pilger too. Stopped clocks an’ all that, I s’pose.

  4. “The idea that Diana was universally loved and adored is pure revisionism.”

    There is a near-equivalent in the US: JFK and the Cult of Camelot. It’s all retrospective.

  5. I was two days into a three week offshore trip when it happened. Delighted to have missed all of the lunacy associated with it – was a definite shift in societal mores though with all of that excitable New Labour guff happening at the same time. All best observed from a distance.

  6. The eruption (for there is no other word for it) of public grief over flighty Di was astonishing because as you say, Mr Tim, she wasn’t really that popular. She very much wasn’t queen of all our hearts and people used to mutter about what she got up to. (Neither it should be said was Charles popular either though his pro-islam and pro-climate change idiocy since has made a good few people pray the Queen outlives him.)

    The worst aspect was how everyone rounded on the rest of the Royal family after Di’s death. Sure they have their skeletons, etc, but the way the popular media went after Madge made me think this was even more of a madness gripping us. It is possible Liz, Phil and a lot of others in Buck House thought Diane was less than great but I am not sure that they were complicit in her death. It has been said that some secret agent caused it on behalf of the establishment but how they managed to make sure Di was not wearing a seat belt so she suffered life-ending injuries was amazing.

  7. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman with a grievance is in need of a man to blame, and Diana’s fan club consisted of every woman who felt a man had wronged her.

    The emotional incontinence after her death was embarrassing and quite deplorable. For me, it marks the point at which the stiff upper lip vanished and Britons became as prone to emote as the continentals.

  8. “I was flying home to Hong Kong that morning.”

    I just knew that you must have had something to do with the Asian Financial Crash, and you would have been flying over me in downtown Jakarta at that time. Her funeral was on the same day as my first Moslem wedding and I kept nipping out to the hotel bar for a bevvy and a squizz with my mate on the large screen telly and recall watching all the posh knobs in blighty, going mental about this wonderful mother.

    A wonderful mother who tried to top the future King Billy by chucking herself down a flight of stairs, something weird there, maybe him not being a bastard and the thought of him having big ears and Jimmy Saville babysitting him was just too much for her, would that have been murder or manslaughter if she had succeed. Then there was the other psychological illness that she suffered form.

    A good mother who had just got her P45 a month ago, yet was too busy nobbing, her ISIS drug addicted gangster boyfriend around the Med than to go and see the Billy Lids.

    The Peoples Princess.
    .

  9. She died the day before my 21st birthday.

    It’s bloody hard to celebrate during a period of intense national mourning.

  10. @ Bardon
    “too busy nobbing her ISIS drug addicted gangster boyfriend”

    Was that why she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?

  11. In a horrible way, death was better than the likely alternatives for her. Once her looks and glamour faded, she would have become an Elizabeth Taylor or Barbara Hutton style joke figure, spiralling down between ever crappier fashion hotspots in the company of ever-sleazier Eurotrash toyboys.

  12. Bad taste joke on the day after Diana’s death. Mischievous 11 yo says:
    ‘Diana was on the radio yesterday…and the dashboard…’

  13. “Once her looks and glamour faded, she would have become an Elizabeth Taylor or Barbara Hutton style joke figure”

    Does anyone else see any similarities between Selina Scott and Di. Here is a posh sheila that has aged gracefully that Trump never got to grab by the pussy, l see she still looks pretty grabbable as well.

    Jill Dando looked a bit like her as well although she worked for a living and was far hotter in my books.

  14. @Watcher on September 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm said:

    …The worst aspect was how everyone MSM rounded on the rest of the Royal family after Di’s death…

    Agree. MSM encouraged by the Blair creature they were in thrall to.

    …It has been said that some secret agent caused it on behalf of the establishment but how they managed to make sure Di was not wearing a seat belt so she suffered life-ending injuries was amazing.

    Yep, always thought it would make a good advertisement – belt-up or die like Di

  15. The Missus and me flew to Menorca the evening of the crash and the next morning, as you do, we went to the nearest supermercado to buy a bottle of water and breakfast before starting the holiday proper.

    Unbeknown to us, The Sun is sent electronically to Spain where it is printed locally and of course the Brits on holiday had been reading the paper with their breakfasts. Consequently, on the first day of the holiday, as we walked to the shop, all the Brits were crying their eyes out and were as miserable as fuck. I remarked to my wife that she had picked a blinder of a resort this time.

    In the supermarket, I spotted the copies of The Sun and the headline and said “Di’s dead” and was chewed out for this until I pointed out the newspapers.

    Fortunately it was a fortnight before we got back home and missed the wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’ve never witnessed teeth gnashing en masse so I suppose that was a downside.

  16. I remember being cold shouldered by the mother in law cos I couldn’t stop laughing while watching the funeral coverage. I couldn’t get the idea of Elton John coming out in his full 70’s pomp style, massive glasses and shiny suit to do his bit which in my head had morphed from ‘Candle in the Wind’ to a reworking of his classic ‘Friday nights alright for fighting’ (cunningly changed to ‘Sunday mornings alright for mourning’).

  17. The thing I objected to was when Mother Theresa died and Elton John didn’t do a rework of candle in the Wind to Sandal in the Bin for her …

  18. @Bardon – good call on SS & Di. Had she lived Diana would no doubt be moaning – like Scott – that she never gets on telly now her looks have gone.

    I suspect the (understandable) adoration the two princes express about their mother would not be the same had she lived. Instead of growing up with her as some sort of absent angel, they’d have seen her become progressively more pathetic and embarrassing as she hung out with ever-more dodgy Arab boyfriends.

  19. I think that an aspect to it is the modern fear of death.

    I think the demise of religion has left us generally unable to handle death. I suspect handling death was one of the primary reasons religions started in the first place.

  20. There is a near-equivalent in the US: JFK and the Cult of Camelot. It’s all retrospective.

    I’ve never understood the love-in with JFK. Other than getting America into Vietnam, blundering into the Cuban Missile Crisis and having to talk his way out of it, and the disastrous Bay of Pigs – what did he do? The Berlin speech?

  21. I was two days into a three week offshore trip when it happened.

    Didn’t we used to know the useless French doctor who killed her?

  22. I remember Elton John singing Candle in the Wind – right inside St. Paul’s? I suspect so – and Tony Blair reading from the Apostle (1 Corinthians 13). Looking back now, it wasn’t in particularly good taste (not that calling Diana promiscuous is, no offense intended), and if, as you say, the crowd flipped from scorn to worship overnight, the quick-yeasted popular grief must have looked at least suspicious if not downright despicable.

    I think I see a familiar pattern in all that. Diana was blessed or cursed with an inordinate gift of beauty. Short of bloodshed, nothing pleases the multitudes more than seeing beauty debased or talent trampled on. But crowds are also infamous for sharp reversals. If this moment’s hero can turn into the next one’s villain, the opposite should hold as well, what with death as a trend breaker.

  23. In a horrible way, death was better than the likely alternatives for her. Once her looks and glamour faded, she would have become an Elizabeth Taylor or Barbara Hutton style joke figure, spiralling down between ever crappier fashion hotspots in the company of ever-sleazier Eurotrash toyboys.

    Yup. Hard to disagree with that.

    I suspect the (understandable) adoration the two princes express about their mother would not be the same had she lived. Instead of growing up with her as some sort of absent angel, they’d have seen her become progressively more pathetic and embarrassing as she hung out with ever-more dodgy Arab boyfriends.

    That too.

  24. not that calling Diana promiscuous is, no offense intended

    Alliteration. 🙂

    Short of bloodshed, nothing pleases the multitudes more than seeing beauty debased or talent trampled on.

    True.

  25. Unbeknown to us, The Sun is sent electronically to Spain where it is printed locally

    Ooh, I didn’t know that either. Smart chap, that Murdoch.

  26. Jill Dando looked a bit like her as well although she worked for a living and was far hotter in my books.

    Unfortunately she’ll be forever associated with the bungled attempt by Plod to pin her murder on the local weirdo, which went beyond farcical.

  27. Now then*, if you like to amuse yourself with the odd conspiracy theory the Jill Dando ones are among the more plausible.

    *Now then…

  28. The moral of the story is that you really shouldn’t allow yourself to be driven around at high speed by a drunk driver while not wearing a seatbelt. In 1997 I recall almost being attacked once for saying that. There was too much desire to find blame elsewhere.

  29. The moral of the story is that you really shouldn’t allow yourself to be driven around at high speed by a drunk driver while not wearing a seatbelt.

    Quite. The bodyguard utterly failed to do his job in that respect.

  30. Jill Dando: I saw a conspiracy theory the other day. It claimed that she was trying to get the BBC to take seriously claims of sexual harassment and paedophilia, and so the bastards dun her in.

  31. I thought the bodyguard was responsible for external threats – he clearly was aware of seat-belt safety, since he wore one (and films lead me to probably erroneously believe this is atypical…). I’d have thought it was the driver who was responsible for that (and in this case, I have had training in driving others and it is emphasised you should check – I doubt French training differs in that respect).

  32. I was in Brasov, Romania in a coffee and cake place when we heard the news over the radio they had paying in the background. Rather surprised but it wasn’t something we thought much about. Come the day of the funeral my now-wife and I walked through the centre of Bucharest from her grandparents to her mother’s house, about two miles or thereabouts across what is normally a busy area. I have never seen the city so quiet with no cars and hardly a soul on the streets, like a zombie movie intro. Really shocking stuff for me to see the impact of the event on a country.

    I was really glad I wasn’t in the UK as the mawkish behaviour would have been too much to bear.

  33. I thought the bodyguard was responsible for external threats

    Getting hold of the doorman-cum-driver and saying:

    1) Who the hell are you?
    2) You’re too pissed to drive.
    3) Slow down, dickhead.

    Are all within a bodyguard’s remit. He failed with all three.

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