Judge and Jury: Why Diana can’t bring the establishment to Mohamed - Mohamed al Fayed’s efforts to be accepted by the British establishment won’t have been helped much by inviting Diana, Princess of Wales on holiday, says Quentin B

Although I’ve not met Mohamed al Fayed, I know him well. Contradiction? No. Have you noticed how the myth behind public figures vanishes when one meets them? They can turn out to be engaging, even charming. You are forced to reassess your opinion.

Although I’ve not met Mohamed al Fayed, I know him well.

Contradiction? No. Have you noticed how the myth behind public figures

vanishes when one meets them? They can turn out to be engaging, even

charming. You are forced to reassess your opinion.



But I’m not tainted here by a personal acquaintance. What I see of him

is the public perception. And I see a man portrayed by the media with a

chip on his shoulder - allegedly so big it could keep McDonald’s in

business for decades. He owns Harrods, and he writes to the Times: both

symbols of British-ness. He’ll take over an ailing radio station - but

is this seen as more to demonstrate aspirant benevolence than business

sense? Does he deep down aspire to the English public schoolboy values

of a Richard Branson - when by contrast, the media portrays Mr al Fayed

as too earnest? Does he try too hard to be accepted by our

establishment?



You decide. And Diana? I do know her, so I am tainted by acquaintance -

and I’m besotted. But was she wise to (presumably) accept al Fayed’s

invitation to the South of France? On one hand she can party with whom

she damned well likes. But this particular party played right into the

hands of her detractors: demonstrating a naivete at the consequent media

reaction, and even setting herself up for an unseemly photo-story while

remonstrating with the paparazzi, resplendent in leopard-print

swimsuit.



Doesn’t this behaviour exonerate those same establishment figures with

whom al Fayed reportedly flirts?



Doesn’t it endorse their view that she is, after all, a ’loose cannon’,

not fit for that ’serious’ ambassadorial role? It’s the way some would

see it.



And the Palace? I’m afraid they seem to come out of this worst of

all.



Again they show an apparent ineptitude by not anticipating events, and

not taking a consistent, proactive line. Why didn’t they know who she

was to be with, and advise accordingly? Of all UK institutions this

seems the one in most dire need of PR advice.



And al Fayed? The media may decree that he too has shot himself in the

PR foot by forging an association that is strategically off target -

Diana, not herself universally respected among those he seeks to

influence. A pretty futile exercise all round?



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