The Death of a Terrible Problem – Diana, Princess of Wales

As we approach the 21st anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it is worth reflecting on the phenomenon of her death. Half the world, 2.5 billion people, watched her funeral six days after her ‘unlawful killing’ as the 2008 inquest put it. According to Will Self these six days were the most interesting in British history, seen as a period that almost brought down the monarchy. For Ian Hislop this is what it might have felt like to be on the verge of a civil war. Within weeks the monarchy had regained the respect of the majority of their subjects. The level of Diana’s celebrity status is easy to forget, and speculation over her death continues. Two years before her death, with Martin Bashir on Panorama in 1995, Diana set out her own manifesto against the world’s most powerful dynasty. This included questioning Charles’s suitability to be king and painting herself as victim and pariah. The Queen then ordered divorce, stripping Diana of her royal title. Diana’s death was, ‘a tragic solution to a terrible problem,’ according to the Queen’s cousin Countess Mountbatten. Historian Piers Brendon has claimed the death of Elizabeth II will result in a lamentation greater than we have ever seen. This is doubtful, given the excessive grief, a form of mass psychosis, over the death of Diana.

 

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