LETTER : Pointless death of a sad woman

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The Independent Online
Sir: Can we hope for a return to reality in the coverage of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales? A silly, self-absorbed, but basically well-intentioned woman has died, in a pointless accident. It happens all the time. In her life she lent her name and her face to some good causes; but not to the exclusion of endless holidays, hours in the gym and fabulous amounts of shopping. Legions do more in the relief of human suffering without a fraction of the adulation.

Her efforts hardly constitute the sainthood for which she currently seems destined.

For those thousands who are queuing up to sign books of condolence, there will be millions more who won't; who aren't struggling with a profound sense of loss, nor feeling that the landscape of their lives has been irrevocably changed; or suffering any other of the extreme emotions prescribed to "the public", by press pundits. Millions will never have bought a newspaper or magazine simply because it contained paparazzi snaps and will not, therefore be grappling with a covert sense of shared guilt in the sad woman's end.

But, many of them may be wondering why they live in a society which wants to apotheosise mediocrity, revel in its frailty, and then affect grief at its inevitable demise.

If Diana's "tragedy" is to mean anything, surely it must be that society cannot have figureheads for its national life on the terms currently demanded. Many of those now beating their breasts need to calm down, and ask themselves just exactly what it is they are crying about.

NIGEL WRIGHTSON

London SW2

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