Hoor Asrar recapitulates an unfinished life of Diana The people’s princess
August is the month deeply entrenched in the memory of countless millions as it was in this month that Diana The people’s princess met her untimely death in Paris. All these decades since the world last saw Princess Diana and that too in a shockingly tragic scenario are moments that are simply beyond erosion and would remain relevant for all time to come. The out of favour woman with no chance of ever being crowned queen of the oldest democracy, Diana still held the whole world in her grip. And what a grip! An estimated 750 million viewed her wedding in 1981 and almost 2 billion people witnessed her funeral. Her brief life was an incessant pageant, surreal but consciously believable. An ordinary girl of twenty hogged the global scene with such panache that surpassed many times over the glitzy existence of mega-celebrities. When she gate-crashed into glittering spectre of celebrity, she was an enigma and when she left the stage, she was still an enigma.
Twenty years down the line her widower has remarried with the ‘three is a crowd’ old flame of his and is living happily ever after. Her eldest son, who resembled her, is a settled family man, more in the mould of his ponderous royal moorings and his shy look is the only trace left of his mother in him. Her other son is a wanderer in the tradition of royal princes out of line of succession, out to conquer the female world. Diana probably never thought of how world will change in two decades after she left it. If alive, at an advanced age, quite bereft of her charming good looks, she would have been torn between her elder son’s devotion to family duty and her younger’s happy-go-lucky attitude. It is pretty weird to imagine a free spirit like Diana becoming a grand-mother at a relatively young age and having to adjust to middle class Kate Middleton as her daughter-in-law.
It is painful to imagine an ageing Diana becoming part of heavily bejeweled quasi-royal women with faded charm and mounting debts. With her broken family it would have been quite difficult for her to settle down to cozy family life. She was slave to fame and would never have been comfortable without it. Her tendency to shock was primarily focused on discomfiting ‘the family’ but with her children caught up in loyalty choice she would have been constrained to change her course. Probably she never grasped that royals exist in a place beyond fact-correction, in a mystical realm with rules that, as individuals, they may not see. She tried hard through psychics to figure out the riddle but failed.
Though not of royal blood, Diana belonged to the stock that was close to royal circles. A soft-eyed, fertile blond, representing conjugal and maternal love she arrived in an era of gross self interest and distracted the British people from hardness of their own character that was represented by extremely tight-lipped Queen and Thatcher the milk snatcher. In fact, Diana married the boy across the hedge; she grew up near queen’s estate at Sandringham. As third daughter of Viscount Althorp she experienced pressures faced by superfluous children feeling difficulty of adjustment who develop hidden temperamental hostility. Diana showed her moodiness by pushing her stepmother downstairs.
Diana was very humble and civil but quietly ambitious. She was conscious of her sense of destiny “I knew something profound was coming my way. I knew I was different from my friends”. Like princess in the wings, she worked in an upper-class nursery taking care of babies till the prince came calling: a mature man, with a history of his own. The question will always remain unanswered whether she knew Prince Charles loved another woman but in all probability she did and it would be naïve not to in presence of crashing echoes of the “ghastly interview,” as Diana called it, in which Charles wondered quizzically, “whatever ‘in love’ means”.
By her own account, Diana was not clever and she never claimed a dependable inclination to virtue. She was puerile in her loving pursuits given to infatuation and slave of impulse. But in July 1981 she looked dazed with happiness. But fairytales do not describe the days after marriage when a young wife is subjected to perplexing obtuseness by a prince attuned to his own way of life. Diana’s heritage as daughter of a landed family did not at all prepare her for the rigours of Buckingham Place. But in her case, it did not take an awful lot to transform a nursery teacher into a belle.
Diana had a natural flavour for showmanship and she was equipped with a sideways gaze measuring interest in her actions. Apparently, she lacked self-awareness but possessed strong instincts armoured with an earnest look and a shy withdrawal. The large canvas of royalty made her to realise that she had power that she had not sought or imagined. She expected adulation but the kind of insatiable public interest she aroused soon immersed her. She soon developed a sense of her own fitness to be princess that unfortunately was devoid of sense of history or the strength of forces she would constellate. Initially afraid of crowds she later began to feed on them. Her global frame irked royal family particularly when its members started suspecting that her dealings with media were contrived. They disliked her urge to appear attractive even if he she starved or threw up her food.
Ten years after her marriage Diana was piquedby hostility and indifference of her royal family but by that time, she developed a well projected affinity with the downtrodden. She began her credible crusade against pain and suffering, visited the sick, and felt happy to be known as the woman with a healing touch. She met Mother Teresa though wearing couture! Campaigning against landmines, she passed through explosive terrain wearing an armoured vest with the inscription, “the HALO Trust”.
Her divorce was nasty besmirching many a reputation and it was a battle with no winners. She withdrew from public life officially but behaved like a childish celebrity and her gloss lost a little shine owing to her failures in love. Diana was bitter as she snapped by saying that she was too much for the royal family, wasted on them. For all intents the withdrawal of royal status had stripped Diana of royal mystique and, more importantly, her physical protection. She was often given to feelings of doom as her options ran out. She often expressed fears about sinister forces after her. She still was playing games with media, teasing them and was chased in turn ultimately to death. But the day she died, the world stopped.
Her death brought on a collective grief as she was a collective creation and possession. The grief of the millions mirrored collective release of suppressed sorrow for a woman they did not actually know. But the crowds were not mourning someone who was perfect but something that was unfinished. In her life Diana was exploited for thrills, laugh and money. But she had something that all around her lacked: she was self-renewing, effervescent as the seasons and, as a myth, never possessed. TW