Editorial: Diana’s legacy to the Palace

Blame for the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be shared among many: the dead driver, the ghoulish paparazzi, their media paymasters, and all of us for our eager consumption of those snatched images. It will also be laid at the door of the Palace ’establishment’ which failed her during her marriage and afterwards removed her Royal status, driving her towards the media and the uncertain protection of private bodyguards.

Blame for the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be shared

among many: the dead driver, the ghoulish paparazzi, their media

paymasters, and all of us for our eager consumption of those snatched

images. It will also be laid at the door of the Palace ’establishment’

which failed her during her marriage and afterwards removed her Royal

status, driving her towards the media and the uncertain protection of

private bodyguards.



All of this is to be expected. In our rush to comprehend terrible

events, we seek causes and retribution. By doing so, we hope to impose

meaning on tragedy and restore order to the world.



There are already calls to introduce privacy laws in the UK. But these

laws didn’t save Diana in Paris, and in framing them we may only end up

safeguarding those in public life whose weasel ways deserve to be

exposed.



Such a backlash against the media would ignore the positive role the

media played in promoting Diana’s charity work, and in putting her in

touch with the public.



It would also ignore the fact that she often sought media interest in

her private life. She had an instinctive flair for handling the press,

tempered by occasional lapses of judgment. These stemmed mainly from her

self-confessed unwillingness to accept PR advice, but even her more

outlandish decisions - such as baring her soul on Panorama - had an

enormous effect.



After that uncomfortable Panorama interview, the world weary media and

the chattering classes sniggered at her naive desire to become ’Queen of

people’s hearts’. But no one laughed when Tony Blair called her the

People’s Princess on Sunday.



The colossal outpouring of public grief this week has revealed the full

extent of the powerful connection she established with ordinary

people.



She had a gift for expressing compassion, which no other member of the

Royal family could match.



The Prince of Wales was often overshadowed by his former wife’s facility

for engaging so directly with the public and the media. He can no more

compete with her icon in death than he could in life, unless he learns

from her example. But it will require a revolution among Palace

courtiers to achieve it.



There must be an urgent meeting with media owners to hammer out a code

of behaviour on both sides. But it will not be enough to then retreat

into stuffy isolation. The Royal family has struck the right note with

funeral arrangements which reflect the style and overwhelming popularity

of the Princess. They should now follow her lead by reinventing their

unbending institution as the people’s monarchy.



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