Beautiful Diana, trapped in a horror movie: Mallick – Toronto Star

Diana, Princess of Wales, was a good person. And look what happened to her.

She was a wonderful parent, and beautiful, and athletic, with an esthetic sense that changed the look of an era and a talent for ambassadorship that served Great Britain well. Everything she touched she made better.

Twenty years ago, she died horribly at age 36. Wednesday will be the anniversary of her burial.

Diana was something of a disappointment when she was born. Since girls couldnt inherit the estate, her parents needed a boy. Prince Charles didnt want her after she gave birth to his male heirs. Her in-laws removed her full royal title after her divorce.

And then there was nowhere to bury her. Her body couldnt be placed in St. Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle with the rest of the royals because she had been cast out. It was a blessing. It seemed too grisly to imagine her among those who had mistreated her.

As for her birth family, the Spencer vault in a church near Althorp was too open and vulnerable for someone of her fame. So out of love and a duty of care, they put her body on a tiny island in a lake on the Althorp estate so no one could ever violate her privacy again.

And there this dear good loving person lies, in a lead-lined coffin in an unmarked grave, never to see her children grow up, never to know her laughing grandchildren, George and Charlotte.

Women who stick their head above the parapet should expect to lose it. Its as true today as it was in 1997.

Dianas life was beautiful in some ways, nightmarish in others. Despite doing so much good campaigning against land mines, helping change attitudes toward people with HIV she was trapped in a horror movie.

The 2017 American drama Get Out, about a young Black man invited for a weekend with his white girlfriends parents, is about a young person picking up clues, bit by bit, that he is in terrible danger. The servants are haunted and semi-frozen. Its an echo of Dianas experience with the royal family, full of unexplained tears, blank stares, strange tastes, imponderables.

Did anyone whisper get out to Diana? Her marriage had become a trap. Her children were hostages. She feared that leaving the powerful, secretive and massively funded royal corporation would mean losing her boys.

Monarchy seems unnatural to Canadians, and it is, post-Diana. But look at whats on offer. Prince Charles is an awkward, stilted man whose country gave him almost unimaginable luxury but who sacrificed nothing in exchange, nothing. How did Mrs. Parker Bowles, whose virtues elude everyone but him, create this mess?

Diana said in a filmed conversation that the Queen had been unsparing when she went to her for help after Charles returned to his mistress. Charles is hopeless, the Queen had told her.

If we must have a monarchy, lets make way for Prince William. Great Britain might get back what it lost with Diana. Never underestimate soft power. Canada has it. We have landscape to spare, a reputation for fairness, a habit of apologizing, and then the magic personal bit, which is basically Hadrien Trudeau, 3, cheerfully hopping around with his hands in his pockets.

People matter. Temperament matters. Human warmth matters. Consider Trump. There, Ive made my case.

Great Britain, clumsily Brexiting, is a shadow of its former self, by which I mean the nation that saved the planet from tyranny in the Second World War.

The core institutions, the NHS and the BBC, are starved of funds. Universities degrade and journalism withers as the EU tries to contain its laughter. Towers burn. Prime Minister Theresa May looks foolish and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn lives in a distant era.

It is a nation in rapid decline. Britain is the United States writ small. There is no central figure in British life once the Queen reaches her end. Diana could have been that person but she was destroyed.

Rewatching her funeral brings the same shock I felt in 1997, with the singing of Libera me (Deliver me) from Verdis Requiem sounding eerily like a young woman screaming in pain.

Im trying to choose which particular aspect of Dianas nature sent her to her bloody end in a Paris tunnel, almost pre-buried, with paparazzi touching her and photographing her as her torn heart flooded her with blood.

It was her relentless hopefulness, her belief that the people who surrounded her were good. They were not.

Her last words were, My God, what has happened?

hmallick@thestar.ca

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Beautiful Diana, trapped in a horror movie: Mallick – Toronto Star

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