Charles' Image Better Since Diana Death

ByABC News
August 21, 2002, 5:09 PM

Aug. 31 -- When Lady Diana Spencer married into the Windsor clan, it was a PR bonanza for the royal family. Ten years later, they were wishing they had never heard of her.

But if Diana in life rocked the royal boat, that was nothing compared to the effect her death had on the royal family. Amid the public outpouring of grief, anger over the royal family's treatment of Diana all but boiled over.

Five years later, the monarchy no longer seems to be under threat, and the royal family seems determined to sweep any remnants of Diana under the carpet.

Here's a look at how some of the major players have fared:

Prince Charles During the Wars of the Windsors, Charles did not come out smelling like a rose. He was largely seen as cold, out-of-touch and even a bit batty.

When, in his authorized biography, he complained that his mother was cold and distant and his father had pushed him into marrying Diana, he was dubbed "the Prince of Wails."

But on his ex-wife's death, Charles showed himself at his best. Obviously very much affected, he traveled to Paris to escort the princess's body home. While the queen reportedly thought Diana deserved no special treatment, Charles warned that the people wouldn't stand for it. He insisted that his former-wife be honored, and he devoted a lot of energy to his grief-stricken sons.

Now, five years after the tragedy, polls show fewer people think Charles should be passed over in the succession in favor of his elder son.

"He's certainly been rehabilitated," said Rob Turnock, author of Interpreting Diana and a research fellow at Bournemouth University in England.

Now Charles is emerging as the Windsor family spokesman. On the deaths of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, he gave moving eulogies to the press. And he seems to have patched things up with his mother too; at the queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations, Charles was among those lauding Queen Elizabeth II's 50-year reign.

Prince William and Prince Henry Princess Diana's death hit her sons the hardest. The press agreed to keep a distance from the young princes, but as they grow older, they are likely to become paparazzi prey, just as their mother was.

William, now 20 and a student at St. Andrews' University in Scotland, has been cast as a teen heartthrob. Tall and blond, with a startling resemblance to his mother, William has the double burden of being the new idol of his mother's fan club and being the future of the monarchy.