Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. For the past week or so Diana (The Peoples’ Princess TM) has been in every paper, on every channel. The BBC has a saccharine fluff piece, shallow as a puddle. The Daily Mail goes one step further into the absurd, publicising a “what if” novel, offering a version of reality where Diana survived. In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland descends into self-parody by somehow contriving to use Diana’s anniversary to whine about Brexit (again), whilst Matthew D’Ancona makes the argument that maybe public emotion is bad and should be ignored. Hillary Mantel writes thousands of words about a person that never really existed, none of them really mean anything.
Nobody, anywhere in the press, comes close to saying anything important. Nobody tries to tell the truth.
I don’t know what happened the night Princess Diana died in a car accident, along with her lover and her driver – nobody knows. It could have been an accident, it could have been something worse. But there are three important facts that are not contended:
1. 18 months before she died, Diana wrote to two separate friends (one, her lawyer), stating that the Royal family would attempt to murder her by staging a car accident.
2. The death of Diana resolved a potentially awkward and unpleasant situation for the Royal family.
3. The press repeatedly published exaggerations and falsehoods about many areas of the case, whilst with-holding and ignoring other important evidence.
Keith Allen’s 2011 documentary “Unlawful Killing” (embedded above) covers this ground, and much more. It was a brave documentary to make, given the public mood around Diana. It was, of course, widely criticised after being premiered at the 2011 Cannes Festival. It never received a public release in this country. When it was released on YouTube in 2014, the Guardian printed a cruel and dishonest review, ignoring all content in favour of one liners. Not a surprise.
The film is hard to get, especially in the UK, so I would download and share it while you have the chance.
Diana may not have been the perfect “people’s princess”, she probably didn’t deserve the hysterical outpouring of public emotion that followed her death – very few people ever have. She probably never earned her place in Britain’s pantheon of domestic saints. But she was a young woman, with two young children, dead before her time.
She was a person, and like all people, she deserves what nobody in the press is really willing to give her – an honest obituary.