The shirt was Lauren, the jeans were by Armani ... and the tears flowed right on cue

Kim Sengupta
Tuesday 06 October 2015 11:06

Diana, Princess of Wales, could not resist one last photo opportunity of the tour, on the airport runway with a group of French servicemen. The first thing she did on getting on to George Soros's private plane was to dive into a pile of Sunday newspapers with stories about herself and Dodi al- Fayed.

That final scene seemed to sum up the nature of her visit to Bosnia.

It was meant to highlight the casualties of landmines but inevitably became subsumed by the unfolding tale, in London, of her relationship with the son of the Harrods owner. There was a further problem. As "Queen of Hearts" the Princess may well be one of Britain's most visible exports, but in the parts of Bosnia where she visited those injured by mines, she simply was not known.

An element of bathos ran throughout the three-day tour. Yesterday, at the deprived and battered suburb of Bujakov Potek, which like the rest of Sarajevo had suffered much in the war, the Princess went to meet 15- year-old Mirzeta Gabelic, who had lost her right leg in an explosion.

Since the Bosnia visit was meant to be "strictly private", there were around 100 journalists with her.

The Princess arrived wearing a pink Ralph Lauren shirt and Armani jeans.The locals mostly looked bewildered. A young man, asked by his friend what the tour was about, replied: "Some Diana is moving in". Another said that "They are coming to clean up the water."

The Princess's visits to the homes of those injured by mines were kept secret from her hosts, and were meant to be "surprises".

This led to some confusion. Mohammed Soljankic, who lost both legs to a mine, was told that on his birthday he would get two presents, a pair of artificial legs and a visit from a general in the international peace- keeping force.

When the Princess arrived the Soljankic family stood in embarrassed silence, not knowing who their guest was; neighbours seemed bemused to be the centre of such media attention. There was also resentment at Mr Soljankic's good fortune. He was apparently not liked for a number of reasons, the least libellous of which appeared to be a convoluted tale involving a goat.

However, the Princess was unfazed by all this. To show her care and to bring comfort she pressed on with her visits and embraced perfect strangers.

Yesterday, at the Lav Cemetery in Sarajevo, she hugged the mother of Tadic Dragan, who is buried there, after deciding to make an unscheduled stop to look at graves. Mrs Dragan had gone to place some flowers on her son's grave and was not expecting the encounter, but according to those present, smiled at the end.

People from anti-landmine pressure groups and charities who accompanied the Princess on her trip said that she regularly cried during visits to homes of victims. Ken Rutherford, of the Landmine Survivors Network, said: "There are tears and water in her eyes at many visits." He added that the Princess was passionately committed to helping victims of landmines.

The Princess's trip to Angola as part of her landmine crusade last year was judged to be a huge success. The present trip, because of the controversy of her relationship with Mr Fayed, could be said to be much less so. Although journalists covering the Princess's trip have been trying to highlight the problem of landmines, one Sarajevo-based counterpart complained: "All you lot want to do is find out is she did it with Dodi."

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