Laughter greets the royal story

THEATREGOERS occasionally shrieked with laughter as art imitated life last night in the form of a film which dramatises the book Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton.

To be fair, the man from BSkyB, which is screening the two-part serial on 14 and 16 February, did say that people might not take to the American-style mini-series, but that he thought everyone would enjoy the evening. He probably didn't expect everyone to find it quite so amusing.

It was not that people invited to the premiere in London were not horrified by the apparent indifference of Prince Charles to his fiancee in the lead-up to the wedding. No one could find humour in the way Lady Diana Spencer torment ed herself about Camilla Parker-Bowles and the hold she had on the man she was about to marry. Nor could people fail to sympathise with her as she watched the pageantry unfold on television before the wedding, confiding that she did not think she could go ahead with it.

What the audience found almost hysterical was the way the actors did almost as good a job as Spitting Image in showing up the more ludicrous aspects of the Royal Family.

In one scene Charles and his father are fishing, exchanging small talk about the weather until Prince Philip finally comes to the point and demands to know when his son is planning to get married. 'How long does it take to find a Protestant virgin,' he demands to know. Charles can only lament at 'being put out to stud' and is again pulled up: 'This is no time to be drooping,' he is told.

Later, while painfully taking Lady Diana round Highgrove before he proposes, he cannot get off the subject of gardening, telling her that rhubarb was one of the few plants 'that needs a good talking to'.

Serena Scott Thomas, acting Diana, said she was delighted to have landed the role, and said she felt sorry for the real-life couple. 'People fall in and out of love the whole time; it's not as if they didn't try.'

It is a conclusion that Andrew Morton concurs with, and was repeating to anyone prepared to listen. He said: 'The days of pretence are over. Diana is now her own woman. She has been recog nised as a clothes horse internationally but has not been recog nised as a workhorse. I think all that is now about to change.'

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