Letter: Spirit of Diana

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Paul Vallely's perceptive analysis of the spiritual impact of the death of Diana (24 August) appears to have overlooked one crucial factor - the symbolism of the accident itself.

Religious leaders have for decades been teaching and struggling against the values of an age in which money, physical beauty and material possessions are set out as the goals to which to aspire. Religious teachers have by and large failed to convince the majority that such ambitions are ultimately futile.

Diana had it all in a modern sense. She had beauty and wealth. She had spent the night before with her lover on a yacht in the Mediterranean, had been whisked to Paris for dinner at the Ritz and was racing through the streets in a fast modern car. Then suddenly, in a brutal instant, it was all over.

Reportedly her last words were "My God! What's happening?" That question is both secular (was she killed by a drunk driver, by the paparazzi, or was she a victim of a conspiracy?) and spiritual (why does God allow tragedy, what happens after death, what is the purpose of life if it can be snatched away in such a manner?).

In the manner and symbolism of her death Diana forced millions of people to face up to religious questions and, in the week of mourning, enabled millions to discover their own abilities to seek spiritual answers. She did this unintentionally, but nevertheless more eloquently than any contemporary religious teacher had been able to do.


Sittingbourne, Kent