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Certainly, there’s been no dearth of Princess Diana remembrances in recent days, but perusing the papers today, I’m surprised at the level of restraint. There’s been no attempt to mimic the ostentatious display of 1997, when the grief was fresh. At The Times newspaper’s global website, the Diana memorial is second to a story about civil unrest in Gaza – as well it should. Certainly, the paper has a special Diana section – she was a princess and world-beloved icon after all – but they don’t go overboard with it.
The biggest focus has been on Diana’s legacy, her sons Princes William and Harry. Even the hardest hearts can’t help but be moved by Harry’s speech at his mother’s memorial, a snippet of which you can watch here. “When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly,” says Harry. “She was our guardian, friend and protector.”
There are places where Diana devotees can discuss their memories, including a page set up here on BBC AMERICA.com. The BBC itself has amassed a large array of Diana tributes and stories:
- Photos from Diana’s memorial
- Harrod’s department store, owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, went silent for two minutes to remember the deaths of Diana and Mohamed’s son, Dodi Al Fayed.
- Tourists in Paris pay tribute near the tunnel where Diana was killed 10 years ago.
- How the monarchy was changed in the aftermath of Diana’s passing. “The institution was jolted out of its complacency and forced to look at itself with a very much more critical eye. Subtle changes in style and approach – some of which had already started prior to the princess’s death – were brought forward with greater speed than might otherwise have been the case.”
- What happened to Diana’s favorite charities, like her fight against landmines? How did they fare after she passed?
- Diana’s face still sells books and magazines ten years on.
Did the media bully the royal family after Diana’s death? The Times‘ Libby Purves lashes out at demands that the royal family be more demonstrative in their grief: “This was the mother of two loved grandchildren, the wife for a decade of a troubled son. Real grief, real shock, is nothing like the vicarious sort. It is disorientating, hollow, private; it contains strange pockets of numbness, even of hope. The bereaved need to be private or among close friends, if only because their behaviour may be counterintuitive: they may even laugh at ironies or incongruities (ask any undertaker). They do not need to be put on display, looking stricken for the benefit of onlookers. Not until the funeral, at least. Anyone should know that.”
Germaine Greer is predictably tart in her assessment of Diana:”If Lady Diana Spencer had had a history O-level she might have learnt that marrying a Prince of Wales was a one-way ticket to misery. Indeed it could be argued that for a Princess of Wales she got off lightly. “(The Times)
The Guardian‘s Stephen Bates suggests it’s time to move on: “Will there be another such service in another 10 years? Or 20? Is it not time to grieve in quiet tranquility and, maybe, move on from the People’s Princess? No more concerts, no more ostentatious grief, no more bouquets hanging limply from the railings of Kensington Palace. Life goes on, even for the royal family. Let Princes William and Harry have their quiet days of memory each August and, maybe, Charles his annual day of guilt, should he be capable of such – but don’t let’s all share it.”
Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.