Princess Diana's enduring appeal is a mystery to me - sorry!

Princess Di wasn't that interesting, so says Colette Sheridan
Princess Diana's enduring appeal is a mystery to me - sorry!

1990S ICON: Princess Diana talks to amputees in Angola, on a visit there in 1997 to promote awareness about land mines.

DOES not being a fan of Princess Diana make me a horrible misanthrope?

After all, she almost has the status of a secular saint. Not to mention her star-making qualities of beauty and charisma.

But since the death in 1997 of probably the world’s most famous woman, the mythologising shows no signs of abating.

Such was the enduring Diana effect that putting her on the cover of magazines significantly increased sales. It would be no surprise if that’s still the case. Those sapphire blue eyes, that shy smile.

Although I have no time for royalty, I still tuned into a new TV documentary, simply titled Diana, last week. And really, it was an exercise in hyperbole.

The voiceover breathlessly described Diana as ‘the princess who changed the world’. Really? In what way?

There are two stand-out photo opportunities that gave Diana credibility as someone who cared. She went to Angola and walked in an area that had landmines, in an effort to ban them. Fair dues, Diana.

And she was photographed touching a patient with AIDs. That was a big deal at the time.

But you can get too excited about an A-list celeb associating herself with worthy causes. The people behind the scenes, such as nurses tirelessly tending to AIDs patients, trying to make them comfortable, not to mention scientists working on a cure for what used to be a death sentence, don’t get much traction.

But, I hear you argue, it takes a global star to use her celebrity status before unpopular causes are put on the front page. 

Just don’t call Princess Diana ‘a bit of a revolutionary’ as was stated in the documentary. That kind of over-the-top commentary is risible.

Diana was just an ordinary gal (albeit well-got) who actually got her man. When she was a schoolgirl, she had a crush on Prince Charles. She had photos of him on her bedroom wall, according to a cousin interviewed for the documentary. For some peculiar reason, Charles was considered ‘dashing’. Which just goes to show that female taste in men is a broad church.

Diana’s taste was questionable. Was it Charles’s ‘eligible bachelor’ status that turned her head? Did she have a childish fantasy of literally marrying her prince charming? He turned out to be a dud.

The Taliban hate women. And in the supposed progressive western world we live in, we have our own diluted Taliban. They can include priests and bishops (particularly of old) and various male establishment figures who are everything from patronising towards women to downright misogynistic.

And there are also the twisted Joe Soaps who abuse women, such as female politicians, online. They hate to see a woman in a position of power. It threatens their fragile egos.

In marrying Charles, Diana was a lamb to the slaughter. 

He was in love with Camilla forever, but as the documentary delicately put it, Camilla had lived a bit and had romances, and was therefore seen as unsuitable.

This euphemism for having had sex is a fine example of the double standards that blight women and bolster men.

Charles was allowed to sow his wild oats while Diana had to be checked out to make sure she was a virgin before she married. That she colluded in this ridiculous farce didn’t bode well for her relationship with her husband-to-be.

Some revolutionary, eh?

Certainly not a feminist icon. Diana was, as Tony Blair put it, ‘The People’s Princess’. She appealed to your average office girl. And even female university graduates. Let’s not be snobbish here.

Diana had grace and was winsome. She also had a lot of emotional intelligence (apart from falling for Charles.) Most importantly, she was more real than the kind of celebs that never come down off their perch and are precious and painful.

Being as ‘real’ as was possible for this woman who was plagued by the paparazzi is no doubt the reason for her enduring appeal. We know she suffered from post-natal depression and had an eating disorder.

But at the end of the day, she had a gilded life, not having to work for modest wages to support her two boys. That’s the reality of many of her fans’ lives, working hard for little gain.

Such is the level of privilege enjoyed by royals that Diana considered it important to take William and Harry to fast food restaurants and on public transport so that they could have ordinary experiences. How is this done? What level of security accompanies royals when they decide to do ‘normal’ things like scoffing Big Macs in public? Are photographers invited? The mind boggles.

Dying young means Princess Diana will be forever remembered as beautiful and fragrant. But how many more documentaries are there in this woman? Because really, she wasn’t that interesting.

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