Princess Diana's Life and Legacy

"If her goal was to simply reach out to the public and make the point for her divorce proceedings, then it was an A-list performance. She threw down the gauntlet to the royal family, and basically said, 'If you mess with me, you're gonna get more of this.' And she did get her 17 million pounds [in her divorce settlement]. But, at the same time, it also meant there was no going back."

Diana always understood the power of the press, as she demonstrated in her campaign against land mines.

"I think that the most amazing synthesis of the whole Diana strengths and weaknesses was when, in Angola ... she walked through a partially cleared land mine field, which is immensely brave," said Brown. "One of the members of the press said, 'I didn't get the shot.' ... She amazed everyone by walking back and doing it again. Diana, the immense publicist, understood that the picture had to be right."

Downward Spiral?

The picture had to be right, for both charitable reasons, and personal ones. Eight months after that land mine field incident, Diana's picture was seen around the world with the new man in her life Dodi Fayed.

"She was trying to send messages, so she tipped off the press that she was on that boat, herself. When she took that famous picture ... in the swimsuit, kissing Dodi, far from it being something she lamented, she called the photographer and said, 'Why is that shot so grainy?' She wanted that shot to go around the world," said Brown.

Brown says Diana couldn't come to terms with "her insecurity, her fragility, the sense of that wound from her childhood, which was so unhappy, and the great hurt from Charles."

"She could not come to terms with those things, and they would rise up and engulf her again, even though her public life was going so well."

Despite this, Brown says that Diana was not "in a downward spiral" at the end of her life. The last time Brown saw Diana was when the two had lunch in New York.

"She was so excited that Tony Blair had suggested to her that she might be a humanitarian ambassador for England — that was something that gave her enormous excitement, and that she would have a legitimate role for England," Brown recalled.

Silent Sunday: A Nation Mourns

Diana had much to live for when, 10 years ago this week, she died in that car crash, chased and tormented by some of the very photographers she had encouraged only days earlier. In Britain, the day became known as Silent Sunday.

"That morning, the people of England were nowhere to be seen," said Brown. "They were behind closed doors, glued to the TV sets or the radios. There was even a power surge as the nation brewed up cups of tea in the morning to sit down for the long haul and watch TV."

Britain watched and waited for a reaction from the royal family, which stayed put in its Scottish castle, as it was played up in the movie "The Queen." Brown says the queen did not anticipate the public reaction and the hostility that erupted when she remained silent.

Finally, five days after Diana's death, the queen addressed the nation. The next day was Diana's funeral — the long solemn march to Westminster Abbey through the heart of London. The queen bowed her head as the procession passed Buckingham Palace.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
null
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...