30 June 2011

A World WITH Diana

Diana Princess of Wales would have been 50 years old on July 1, 2011. This milestone anniversary (as with all anniversaries or events associated with the late princess) has inspired many journalists, bloggers and others to commiserate with each other over what might have been. Would she have approved of Catherine Middleton? Would she have become Facebook friends with Camilla? How many husbands and children would she have had? Some outlets have even gone so far as to show images of what Diana would look like were she alive today.

Diana, Princess of Wales, accompanied by her son Prince William (R), is seen arriving at Wimbledon's Centre Court before the start of the Women's Singles final in London in this July 2, 1994 file photograph. Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, Buckingham Palace said on November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS)

As I have clearly indicated by my #DontBuyNewsweek campaign on Twitter, I believe most of this is falderol or, to quote myself "tacky, tasteless tripe." Having said this, however, I think there are a few things we know with some certainty would be different if Diana were still with us.

1. She would not be friends with Sarah Duchess of York.
Okay, maybe she would have finally forgiven Sarah for talking about her in a negative light in Sarah's first autobiography, My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York, but that does not mean they would have been the buddies that Sarah seems to imagine they would be. Even Sarah has admitted that they were in one of their "quiet periods" when Diana died. In fact, they had not spoken for a year and the fact that this is just "one of" the times when Diana cut Sarah off does not bode well for the BFF image Sarah tries to cultivate. Diana was not renowned for maintaining strong, long-lasting relationships. Perhaps they both would have matured and reunited over their commonalities, but I am persuaded that Diana would be less than impressed by Sarah's ongoing struggles and recoveries.

A pair of photographs show Kate Middleton (L), fiance of Britain's Prince William posing in London November 16, 2010 and William's mother Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing the same engagment ring in London in an August 28, 1996 file photo. Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, after an on-off courtship lasting nearly a decade, bringing months of speculation about his intentions to an end. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Dan Chung (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY ROYALS PROFILE)
2. Catherine would have a different engagement ring.
You must remember that I never thought Prince William would give his bride his mother's engagement ring, and time certainly proved me wrong. But, it was almost certainly the strong sentimentality generated by his mother's death that inspired him to give it to Catherine. As he said at the time, "It was my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today." If Diana had been alive the ring would not represent a memory of her; rather it would represent her unhappy marriage and bitter divorce.

3. Camilla would still be Public Enemy #1
Many people still cast Camilla as the archvillain in the Wars of the Waleses. Many others believe she is no more culpable than the rest of the cast of characters, including Diana herself. Nevertheless, effervescent, beautiful, charitable Diana would have continued to dominate the media's attention and the world's hearts had she lived and Camilla would never have had a chance to be recognized as anything other than her enemy, the woman who ruined her life. And Diana would have had no interest in making it easier on Charles and Camilla. The squabble would likely have continued in the media. As a result, I seriously doubt there would be a Duchess of Cornwall today.

Earl Charles Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales, poses in front of family home at Althorp, near Northampton, in this June 28, 2001 file photo. Spencer is rumoured to be among the 1,900 guests invited to attend the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011, according to local media. REUTERS/Staff/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: PROFILE ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS)
4. No one would know who Earl Spencer was
Okay, a lot of people don't know who Charles 9th Earl Spencer is but he would be a complete nonentity if his sister Diana were still alive. He would still get occasional attention as he did as "Champagne Charlie" when Diana first emerged on the world's stage, but all of that attention would be negatively focused on his acrimonious divorces and fights with friends. He would not be known as the sacred guardian of Diana's memory, a mantle he gave himself with his eulogy at Diana's funeral. While castigating the royal family and the media, Spencer pledged to look after her sons and to raise them as she would wish them to be raised. How well he fulfilled that promise might be evidenced by the fact that Prince William did not attend the earl's latest wedding in June 2011.

5. Mohammed al Fayed who?
Likewise Mohammed al Fayed, father of Diana's companion at the time of her death, Dodi Fayed, would only be known as the owner of Harrod's rather than as a grief-stricken, revenge-seeking father. Al Fayed's constant assertion that his son and Diana were assassinated in a political conspiracy has fueled investigations, books and now a film, "Unlawful Killing." While Diana's children have publicly accepted the conclusions of inquests by the governments in Britain and France, where the deaths took place, Al Fayed remains in denial. He has now constructed two memorials to the couple's memory in his London store and fully believes that they would have married, telling everyone that Dodi was planning to propose that night.

6. Paul Burrell would never have had a single column inch
Following Diana's death, her former butler Paul Burrell was charged with stealing items from her estate, which he said he was merely holding in trust for her sons at the queen's request. The case was dismissed when the queen suddenly recalled this conversation. Burrell also gained notoriety for his inconsistent and possibly inaccurate testimony at Diana's inquest. While managing to escape jail time in both instances, he has built up a new career for himself writing about Diana and the royal family and appearing on reality TV shows. If Diana had lived, he would probably still be somebody's butler.

Children play in the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in central London June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ENVIRONMENT)
7. It goes without saying...
Many books, movies and memorials would not have been produced if Diana had survived. There would be no Diana Memorial Playground, Walk and Fountain in Kensington. The movie "The Queen" would never have been produced and Helen Mirren could not have won an Oscar for it. The exhibition, "Diana: A Celebration," would not be touring the world, and no one would know that there is an island in the middle of a lake at Althorp.

For more, read my article, "If Diana Had Lived."
(Read my 2010 post "Diana and Me)


  1. Lovely post- I always enjoy considering alternate possibilities. But I think you meant to write that Diana would have been 50 on July 1, *2011*.

    I just hope that William and Catherine have a genuinely happy and lasting marriage and that there are no repeat performances of the War of the Waleses.

  2. BTW, I love the new look of the site!

  3. Thanks for the compliment and catching the typo, which I've corrected. BTW I added Cross of Laeken to my newest blog: Royal Blog Central http://bit.ly/jS04T5