Thursday, August 30, 2007

Diana redux

10 years ago I was fortunate enough to be in Africa when Diana's car crashed in an underpass in Paris. As a consequence the mass hysteria that captured England seemed extremely remote, and entirely incomprehensible. It mattered to everybody, apparently, mattered more than their own lives, and I felt extremely dislocated from the experience. Indeed, as Mark Steyn puts it, I found the spectacle of 'the people' in mourning a little unpleasant.
No one could doubt the sincerity of the people’s reaction. But their sincerity did not make it any less repellent. The supposedly reserved, bloodless Brits had, like the Princess, swallowed wholesale the vocabulary of American Oprahfied psychobabble, a depressing enough prospect. But they had fused it with the brutish vulgarity of modern British mass culture to create a truly horrible mutant: aggressive empathy.
But, in the kerfuffle over her forthcoming memorial service I don't detect anything like the same emotion. I know that I couldn't care less either way who is invited and who isn't, and can't imagine that anyone other than a Daily Express reader does either. That's why I find it hard to get remotely agitated over Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's screed in the Independent today.
Even so, it is the most awful tripe. It's as if she's pressed a button marked 'auto anti-royal rant' and taken the feed off the ticker-tape. I suppose all columnists eventually descend into self-parody, but Yasmin does do it easier than most.
Ten years ago, the people forced the Royal Family to recognise what Diana meant to the nation. They have done it again. The fire of protest has subsided, but the mood is like the black ash over Greece.
Gah. I do hate the phrase 'the people'.
The royals and the Spencers blame the media for destroying the princess and now her commemoration. Prince William even says it was not her treacherous husband but us lot – the hacks – who brought his mother down.
I don't think even Fayed claims that Prince Charles was driving the paparazzi cars does he?
Millions of Britons blame Camilla, who invaded the marriage and then brazenly tried to intrude on the posthumous celebration of the woman they adored and she wronged.
Do grow up. Millions of Britons? Maybe a decade ago.
They [William and Harry] stamped on Diana's buried heart when they asked Camilla to the ceremony; the people they have invited do not reflect the emotional openness that defined their mother. My late mother rued before she died that Diana's boys had been turned into blue Windsors. How true. Just look at William now: he is a male version of Princess Anne.
Blue Windsors? What the hell does that mean? They stamped on her buried heart? Yasmin, you've missed your calling, there's surely a vacancy now that Diana's favourite author has died.
If they really meant the ceremony to honour their mother, they would have invited the sick, poor and disenfranchised – the blind man who tried to see her beauty by touching her face; limbless victims of land mines; bulimics; lepers,; Aids patients; black people who knew she never flinched away from them; her Muslim surgeon lover; the confidantes resented by the palace; the cleaners and bus drivers who wept so when her coffin went by.
I feel a bit queasy after reading this.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

No no, you've got mixd up. That last paragraph should begin "to honour their Mother" - Yasmin is criticising a guest list drawn up by the Missionaries of Charity for some anaiversary do in honour of Mother Teresa.

9:42 am  

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