When we fell in love with Princess Diana, 40 years ago, we all believed in the fairy tale. So did she. In those pre-digital days, for foreigners at least, the truth behind the Palace walls didn’t travel as fast so it was only when Diana’s sadness was so palpable on the pictures that something seemed to be “wrong”. Later we found out the truth. It’s been 24 years since we were forced to say goodbye to her and she’s never been more alive, and relevant to all of us. Why?
Because Diana has spoken from her heart. Love her or not, she was honest and the test of time has only reinforced her every word instead of diminishing them. This singularity puts Diana as one of the most relevant names in History. She changed the way people thought they had to suffer in silence, how a divorce can shatter someone’s life and lack of empathy can trigger many health issues.
Many shall go on still trying to “study” her motives, feelings, or reasons, but Diana did share them all with us. She is dearly missed for her brutal honesty.
At the time, many of her critics – yes, there were some and there are still – suspected her motives: for marrying and even divorcing. They even suspected about her mental health, using that against her. What these people usually got wrong was to confuse her shyness with weakness, and her sadness with vulnerability. Diana was a strong woman who would not bow and leave the battle without a fight.
The irony for her critics, and they still don’t grasp it, is that by speaking plainly about uncomfortable issues, insecurities, and reactions, Diana was “just like us” and that made her trustworthy, reliable, and inspirational. She didn’t say the things she did to sell books or brands or get likes and shares. She wanted to change the narrative when there was no such concept of scripting one’s life. It was as if she was going to “fail”, then she was going to own it, meaning, she was going to share the real reason for her loss instead of accepting a fake excuse. Even today that is easier said than done. It’s not rare to see celebrities trying to be accessible by sharing a personal issue, but paradoxically often doing it to keep the distance and control rather than allow closeness and connection. Going back to the critics that claim Diana’s talent was to know how to use the cameras, if only it was as simple as that. She was the real deal.
Lately, much of the comparison people try to make between Diana and her sons or daughters-in-law seem to me not well suited. At the very least, as a mother, she loved her sons equally and would never support this ‘pick a side’ the social media reinforces daily. No one is perfect, she wasn’t occasionally neither, so it’s a game that would break her heart.
I also often wonder other things, had Diana lived. Which causes would have she embraced? How would she be in Social Media? Would she have remarried (I think she would) and would she had more children? Most importantly, would she, in time, forgive those who broke her heart? She wasn’t given that opportunity.
I’d always like to think she would. I always remember where I was when I heard about the accident, later, her death. My disbelief didn’t change in more than two decades. But, as often I try to remember here, August 31st could not be different.
Rest in peace, our Princess. You will forever be missed.