Letter: Britain has seen a revolution

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The Independent Online
Sir: As I walked through Hyde Park at 6.30 on the morning of Princess Diana's funeral I was reminded of an early November morning in 1989 as I hurried with a BBC film crew to watch the first piece being removed from the Berlin Wall. I couldn't find any rational explanation for my feeling; in fact I was ashamed at comparing this profoundly sad occasion with the excitement of the East German revolution.

Then, as I sat with tens of thousands of people in front of the TV screens, thunderous applause broke out as the Union flag was hoisted to half-mast on Buckingham Palace. I recalled the scene on Wenceslas Square, when, in one of the first acts of defiance during Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, someone climbed up onto the National Museum and hoisted a flag.

I am not in any way drawing a comparison between the oppressive Communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the British monarchy. But a new ethos was vindicated on Saturday - one which allows the heart parity with the head. It is cruel and unjust to vilify those who don't show their emotions as openly as Diana did. I was horrified at people baying for the Queen or the Princes to cry in public. But the cruelty of the Royal Family was that they sought to impose their values on Diana, the silent implication being that anyone who didn't maintain a stiff upper lip was weak and inferior. Diana made it OK for all of us to show vulnerability, to feel inadequate, to be frightened and insecure, to get it wrong - in other words, to be a human being.

Perhaps the events of last week will go down in history as Britain's Revolution of Tears.


London NW5