Diana - The Last Farewell: A nation that grieves for itself

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I was born in the year Prince Charles and Diana were married, and have grown up in the shadows cast by the demise of their fairy-tale marriage. You might have expected me to have been swept along by the tide of national hysteria that has surrounded Diana's death. Instead the harsh future facing the young princes and the unforgettable memory of the tragedy at Dunblane make me want to place events in context.

I spend as little time as possible thinking about the Royal family and its divorces but the tragic death of Tony Blair's "people's princess" could not be ignored. The end of the Diana saga was somehow equivalent to the fall of the Tory government: having lived with it all my life I could not quite believe it was over. I found myself remembering a time when I enjoyed dressing up and playing at being Lady Di and to my surprise I found my thoughts turning to Prince William and Prince Harry.

However much one has envied the two princes and their privileged and sheltered lives, it cannot be forgotten that they have lost their Mum. When the nation decides to stop publicly grieving, perhaps when they return to work on Monday morning, they should not forget the stark reality left behind for William and Harry. How will they survive among a family as traditionally backward and emotionally restrained as the establishment they embody?

By choosing to empathise with the two princes I haven't merely dismissed Diana. Her work and the public attention she awakened to charities and needy causes as international ambassador and patron is outstanding, although not unique. Her attempt at single parenthood in the face of a dismissive Royal grimace was commendable and her wish to care paved her path towards the title "queen of people's hearts".

Yet forgive me for rejecting Diana as a "Saint". Remember the slaughter at Dunblane when 16 innocent children and their teacher lost their lives. The minute's silence that graced the football fields and the nation seemed sufficient for all to contemplate that immense loss. Those children touched everybody's lives, just as Diana has done for many, but the grieving for her is prolonged, almost self-indulgent.

I cannot help but question, after a week of passionate outpouring, who the crowds lining the streets will be grieving for today. For the Royal family? For the destruction of its facade? For Diana? Or for her myth which, in my mind, has been publicly exploited as an excuse to grieve for oneself?

I cannot join in. I feel for William and Harry. I still have the powerful memory of Dunblane. I will not swim in the tears of sorrow surrounding Diana.

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