I'm sure I've written on here before about what a huuuuuuuuuuuuge Princess Di fan I was at uni. Me and some friends tried to form an unofficial Diana for Queen society.
We wanted a monarchic split, along Tudor / Stuart lines, with the houses of Windsor and Spencer providing twin dynasties, who would fight to the death for the crown.
(We were still discussing what should go on the soc T shirts when we finally left uni and lost interest.) Added to this, pretty much everyone in Britain remembers what they were doing when they heard her car had crashed in Paris. And pretty much everyone has some opinion about how the British people responded at her funeral. Over here, it was a JFK moment.
I left flowers, of course, on the morning that she'd died - at Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace. JatB and I went to the gold encrusted, sheikh-heavy Park Lane Hilton to buy them, and I'm sure the florist threw in a lot more effort and flowers when we told him who they were for. At Kensington, the alleyway leading to the gate was already filled with round bouquets, and shrines were already popping up along the railings of the park, including a sign accusing MI5 of murdering her, which later disappeared. At Buckingham Palace, we refused an interview to Swedish television, on the basis that the press had killed my heroine. (shyah, right, the Swedes did it - have you thought of that, al Fayed?) It was extremely weird to see a ring of policemen holding tourists back from the Palace, but allowing us to pass within; weird to be the ones allowed through, for once. If you saw any pictures of the fields of flowers laid, you can actually see our flowers; they're the first layer laid, leaning against the gates of the palace.
My own take on the funeral was that this country doesn't handle grief well, as a rule. That lots of people lose someone and feel that they haven't really accepted it for years, that they haven't quite done their grieving. The Diana funeral was a fairly safe place to portray and express that grief - the funeral of a stranger whom you respected in some way. Anyone recently bereaved whom I knew responded very differently to the 'masses' and found the whole thing an intrusion into their, 'real' grief. But the point about that is that they were still grieving the first time around, they hadn't got to that stage where people don't want to hear any more, yet, where people give you subtle hints that going on about the person you've lost for three years is perhaps enough.
When visiting her coffin in state - which I did most days - told you I was a huge Diana fan - I was most interested in watching the other visitors (voyeuristic as ever). Interesting a higher proportion (than you usually spot in The hoity toity, tourist-laden Mall) of black citizens laying wreaths and flowers. I was particularly surprised to see that in this unaccustomed and rather European outburst of emotion (remember, the British regard Europe rather as 'over there' - a Johnny Come Lately), the majority of the people pilgrimaging to Buckingham Palace to sign the books and pay their respects were young men. I love it when men aren't afraid to express emotion - it reaffirms for me that Hollywood hasn't stamped out all individuality and human compassion from the male gender yet, with their relentless stereotyping.
Anyway, my reason for writing this post: today, the news that, six years on, a UK judge will finally open an inquest, not into the accident that killed Diana and al Fayed, but into the speculation surrounding the accident. I doubt the result would be public, or that we'll ever see a full and conclusive result. But it seems a shame that we can smash open the secrecy of Parliament to conduct the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly, but we can't ask awkward questions about the death of the mother of the future king.
Were the Secret Service tailing her car?
Why haven't they admitted to being in front of the hotel? It's inconceivable that they weren't keeping a very close eye on her.
It wasn't some ordinary hit and run - so why hasn't the car that witnessed the crash ever been traced?
Why and how, of all the underpasses in Paris, could the CCTV footage of that tunnel, at that moment have 'disappeared'?
If the driver, Henri Paul, had taken the huge cocktail of drink and drugs the French inquest found him to have, how on earth could he have even walked to the car, let alone driven it?
The issue has been complicated recently, by the disclosure of a letter from Diana to her butler, Paul Burrell, dated ten months before her death, in which she accuses someone of plotting with the 'men in grey' to murder her in a faked car accident. Legal issues allowed publication of the letter, but not of the name of the person she suspected of masterminding the plan. (of course, monarchists suggest this was all paranoia - conveniently forgetting that Diana lived in the royal household for fifteen years - if anyone was privy to their machinations on a scale even the most ardent serf and footman wasn't, it was she.)
That name was released today: Prince Charles.
I'm a natural conspiracy theorist, me. And I definitely fancied Di. But even I had pretty much decided it was just a car accident in a tunnel. An end to a pitiful life, in many ways. The tragedy of it was how little she was allowed to achieve, in the end.
But then today I heard an anecdote, a little, telling detail, that I'd never heard before.
Apparently, Sarah Ferguson, (Diana's sister-in-law, and another huge embarrassing thorn in the side of the Royal House of Windsor), used to share confidences and laugh cynically with Diana about how between them they were destroying the old regime. They shared together the rank of loose cannon, of wayward outsider on the inside of 'The Firm'.
When she heard the news of Diana's death, Fergie's first response was to write a letter to the Queen, saying that she would step into line, she would move back into the Palace, she would behave - but please, her children could not grow up without a mother.
Now what in hell does that reaction tell you?