Tuesday, 29 August 2017

What Would Princess Diana Be Doing Now?

Like most people, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news (in bed on a Sunday morning when my radio alarm inexplicably went off at 5.30am to relay the surreal and shocking event while I sleepily tried to figure out who they were talking about whose 'boys were going to have to be very brave').

I have wondered many times since what Princess Di would be doing now if she were still alive and never more so than approaching the 20th anniversary of that fateful night

What we know about a surviving Princess Diana for certain:

  • Would have continued to be a proud and supportive mum to Wills and Harry
  • Would be a doting grandma to George and Charlotte
  • Would continue to play a pivotal role on the world's stage most probably through charitable work, ie becoming ambassador for UNICEF like late Audrey Hepburn. 
  • Would have continued to be a friend to HIV/AIDS sufferers.
  • Would remain a fashion icon and keep fit enthusiast.


  • Before she died Princess Di was denied a bolt hole house on the Althorpe family estate by her brother Earl Spencer. She then yearned to live abroad but was told in no uncertain terms that she couldn't take the princes with her if she did so. Her compromise was increasingly frequent holidays/mercy missions with regular calls and visits home to Wills and Harry. As they grew into men and forged lives of their own I think Diana would have emigrated, though possibly remaining in Europe.
  • Diana was due to fly home to see Wills and Harry the day after she was killed. She may have enjoyed her summer with Dodi, but she knew he was a playboy and the moment she found out he had another girlfriend on another yacht nearby, one he had promised to marry, that would have been the end of it!
  • Meanwhile the Royals (if they hadn't previously attempted to) might have apologised to her for her ill-contrived Royal marriage and tried to cut a deal with her to agree to live quietly and respectably (including no change of religion as mother of heirs to a C of E throne) in return for free lifetime tenancy, possibly of former Edward and Mrs Simpson pad in France, and a generous guaranteed lifetime income. Having a strong sense of destiny that she was meant to be out there making the world a better place, she would have declined but insisted on retaining a lifelong royal title. Nor would she have agreed to be publicly gagged in any OK magazine appearances etc. As she said of herself in a post-divorce interview 'She just wouldn't go quietly.'
  • Diana felt the need of a wealthy man to protect her, so in Jackie Kennedy fashion (one of her heroines whose style she often emulated) I believe she would have eventually found herself an Onassis figure or widowed nobleman to marry, based in Europe. She would subsequently have quickly tired of a 'safe' father figure who possibly first admired her charitable endeavours and then sought to persuade her to give them up one by one as she should give all of her attention to him. In truth, she needed all the attention focused on her and wasn't about to become anyone's trophy wife or bird in a gilded cage. So divorce no. 2 would follow, albeit leaving her well set up for life.
  • A couple of successive flings with wealthy arab playboys might have followed, who flattered her, cheered her and spoiled her for a while, but had no intention of seriousness.
  • Finally I think she might have settled for a wealthy Fortune 500 American and moved stateside to be publicly adored into her dotage, Skype and Facetime by now keeping her in touch with her nearest and dearest in addition to regular visits.
  • Charles would not have been able to marry Camilla, not just because Diana would have made a massive fuss, as would her thousands of loyal followers, but because the church wouldn't have allowed him while his former wife was still alive. Then again, once we had gay marriage, Charles could have always asked for a review of the situation!
  • After initially embracing Tony Blair and New Labour, she would have become appalled by the war he took the nation into, particularly when he offered her no major role as a peacemaker and contradicted her charitable and peaceful endeavours.
  • Diana would have made strenuous efforts to try and save her rock star friend George Michael from his demons when she realised his life was spiralling and make him get help. She may or may not have succeeded in extending his life but her efforts would have put his condition in the public domain and encouraged other of his loved ones and fans to stage interventions.
  • Diana would have encouraged the nation's women to dress better and not let fashion descend into anything goes. Tattoos and piercings would also be less prevalent under her influence.
  • We wouldn't be such an emotionally incontinent nation who cry at the slightest thing, which would not please the producers of BGT! Diana's death spelt the end of the stiff upper lip and any pretence of emotional resilience. She has also, for better or worse, made the cult of victimhood socially acceptable, and not necessarily as a curable condition.
For all her pros and cons Diana was an undeniably iconic figure and, Royalist or not, you could no more ignore her 'girl next door' luminescence with its cornflower blue rolling eyes and flicked blonde locks than you can walk past an image of Marilyn Monroe without being drawn like a magnet. What they shared was that elusive intangible known as star quality and the unshakeable belief (despite their myriad failings and insecurities) that they were born to play a major role on the world's stage. Like Marilyn, Diana was a flame which burned too brightly and she died at the same age as her movie star heroine - 36 - in the month of August - like a candle in the wind indeed.

Diana's untimely death also plunged the monarchy into a crisis not seen since Edward VIII's abdication. The Royal Family simply did not know how to respond to the event or to the extraordinary outpouring of public grief, while simultaneously trying to comfort and protect the princes.

Strangely the thought of Diana being alive today is almost unthinkable. I wonder why that should be.


Katrina Robinson said...

Hmmm very considered and thought-provoking! I think Prince Charles would have been able to marry though she was still alive, as other royals have. The concept of Princess Di with piercings and tattoos is quite a shock to the system....

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Ha ha, I doubt Princess Di would have had more than a subtle butterfly on her ankle if she had been tempted by body graffiti at all and I am sure she would have felt pierced ears were sufficient re piercings!