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Tuesday, 6 January 2004


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?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:00 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 6 January 2004 8:03 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 8:23 PM GMT

Name: tess
Home Page:

The first thing I said when I heard she was dead was"The @#%$!". I never doubted for one second that the Royals had had her murdered, and my heartfelt symapthy was with Mohamed Al-Fayed. Now, if the story about Fergie is true, it's just another nail in the coffin of the monarchy. Even they must know they are on their way out, the pompous oul arses that they are.

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 9:18 PM GMT

Name: [dan black]
Home Page:

I honestly don't believe the Royals have the IQ to plan her murder. I think that assassination is ineffective as a method for "celebrity" when the press can do a much better job of destroying someone. I still think this is all just fuel for the tabloids to sell more. I think I'm just a scully to your mulder :)

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 9:50 PM GMT

Name: Joe

I only wish that I could write as much as you do. I can't think of nearly that much to say online. How do you do it?

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 9:54 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Why necessarily the Royals? Why not the men in grey suits who really run The Firm?
Did you follow the 'conspiracy' link?

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 9:56 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

I'm a f|ucking mouthy @#%$!.

Hey, you're telling me you didn't notice the three days of total @#%$! I posted while I was ruminating?

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 10:16 PM GMT

Name: [dan black]
Home Page:

The men in suits are just an excuse for the freaks that run this country. Hang on... that's a conspiracy in itself isn't it? You're getting inside my head! :)

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 10:27 PM GMT



Anyway, we all know you own the X Files already - you're just embarrassed and trying to fabricate an excuse for putting them on the open shelves... ;-)

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 11:08 PM GMT

Name: billy
Home Page:

...personally I know exactly where I was and what my reaction was - bloody hell parky, you're going to lose your job over this...a couple of weeks earlier the beeb had cocked up and whilst practising the death of the queen mum it had been leaked to the press...I thought they were practising another royal death and parky (who was on the radio) had made a I then failed to see or hear anything else for the rest of the day (bit hungover - hair of the dog-pissed again) I was a bit bemused the next day at work :^)...
...oh, and do you think I mention my dad too much? :^(...

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 11:09 PM GMT

Name: Steven

If you thought that there was a plan to have you killed in a road accident, would you volunteer to be driven around Paris at illegally high speeds by someone not on your own staff - and without even putting your seat belt on?

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 11:24 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

No. That was a good post you wrote. And a brave one. And you made it fairly clear why you posted it.
I presumed you'd sorted a supply job that was starting soon and the old collywobbles were flaring a little. It's endemic to the job you're in, I think, if that is the case.
About your issues with your family, and your dad, I did wonder if you'd ever read Lactose Incompetent's blog? Particularly this post.

Tuesday, 6 January 2004 - 11:26 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

That was ten months earlier, and anyone who knew her admits she had a history of slight mental instability. I don't think too much credence should be given to her letter, which Burrell kept to himself until it had a higher market value, frankly.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 3:45 AM GMT

Name: boz
Home Page:

Maybe the car accident was orchestrated by the same group that orchestrated John F. Kennedy Jrs plane crash.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 8:40 AM GMT

Name: Lux
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I loved Princess Diana... I had Diana paper dolls when I was little, and I named my kitted Princess after her (sort of)- I had this fascination with being a princess. I vaguely remember when Prince William was born and being glued to the TV- there must have been a lot of press coverage of it.

I was in shock when I found out she was dead- I was at my (then) boyfriend's house and we happened to turn on the TV and they were reporting on it- it was around 1 or 2 in the morning over here, if I remember right. Boyfriend said something really callous and unsympathetic- then the twunt dumped me a couple weeks later. It wasn't a very good end to the summer that year.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 11:34 AM GMT

Name: Abster

"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?"

Alcoholics for one can have a massively elevate BAC, yet appear fairly sober to others and carry out normal functions. The true sign being that they remember absolutely NOTHING that occured during this phase - alcoholic blackout.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 11:43 AM GMT

Name: pan
Home Page:

I don't really believe in conspiracy theories, and especially not ones where any member of the Royal Family is involved. They are after all so well known for not screwing up.

Given the wages paid to public servants and the rapacious tabloid appetite for stories it's inconceivable (to me) that if there really was a conspiracy some minor underling wouldn't have come forward by now with some actual facts. Think about it - the tabs would pay ANY MONEY for this - worldwide you could get #5M easy for anything even slightly substantive. When more than about 3 people know something that is being actively sought it's practically impossible to keep it a secret. People just can't keep their mouths shut.

Plus let's face it - there have been plenty of more embarrasing candidates over the years - The Duke of Windsor, Fergie, Prince Philip. Diana was no threat to the establishment - her position as the mother of HRH Prince William both protected her and enforced her, albeit perhaps unwilling, collusion to some extent in the usual antics of The Firm.

Overall I think that, following the principle of Occam's Razor, of the two explanations: 1) Drunk driver hits pillar attempting to evade paparazzi or 2) Mysterious covert group operating on behalf of The Firm, with or without their knowledge murders Diana for reasons unknown, then the former is way more simple, and in the absence of other evidence is the one we should believe.

Has anyone ever thought that Dodi may in fact have been the actual target and Diana was just in the wrong place at the wrong time??

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 12:17 PM GMT

Name: NC

Gasp! Shock Horror! Bulging Eyeballs! That's why sensible countries got rid of their monarchs ages ago, and replaced them with tyranical dictators instead.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 4:14 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

But he wasn't an alcoholic, as far as I can divine ... ?

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 4:16 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

My gut instinct tells me that the Royals didn't mastermind her death. Given their utter ineptitude in masterminding their own lives. The idea that shadowy establishment employed operatives couldn't have done it is ridiculous though. If they couldn't have done it, then they're not good enough to be our shadowy operatives, and want sacking, surely?

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 4:17 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

But if we didn't have a monarch, we wouldn't have this SPLENDID soap opera. Who cares if a dictator is found to be buggering the footmen, like Charles was?

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 4:21 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Exactly my thoughts!

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 4:21 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Aha! It was a sign.
I heard it through a fog of sleep on a radio alarm at 5.30am that I'd forgotten to turn off over the weekend. It sounded wrong, so I got up and checked the tv, then stayed there watching for the next few hours.
My favourite point was when the tv networks were caught on the hop, with the graveyard slot Sunday presenters having to hold the fort till the heavyweight's taxis whizzed them to the studio. One particular presenter sticks in my mind for saying to an interviewee, 'never mind, at least she had a nice holiday'.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 5:15 PM GMT

Name: jatb

I heard it at about 4 or 5 am on the world service news (being in the habit of sleeping with the radio on) and I'm sure they said she was in an accident but was ok and had been discharged from hospital. And then when it was reported on the later news that she'd been killed in a car accident I jumped to the obvious (to me) conclusion that she'd been in two accidents: discharged from her first accident but perhaps still a bit woozy and was then knocked over by a second car as she was leaving hospital. I still prefer my version. Clearly the whole tunnel thing was a mock-up to hide the negligence of the Paris A&E department's negligence in discharging her from the first accident.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 5:30 PM GMT

Name: NC

Once he wasn't buggering the corgis. Off with his head! Oops will the secret service be tracing these comments?

Wednesday, 7 January 2004 - 10:42 PM GMT

Name: someoneSomewhere
Home Page: http://http:no

I liked her more, especially after the divorce. She seemed to be trying to do something meaningful with her position. I watched all the news reports and felt sorry for her kids. OK, OK I watched the funeral and got teary eyed, I admit it.

It's funny what you say about Brits being uncomfortable with grief. A New York friend has a British boss. After 9/11 her company brought in on-site trauma counselors. Everyone in the office, except the Brit, went. Everytime anyone asked the boss about not going, she just seemed horrified at the whole thought of it.

Really strange all this stuff. I think you are probably right though, if it wasn't an accident - I don't think it was the Royals that did it.

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 12:16 AM GMT

Name: Vanessa

And allowing Prince Charles to mow her down then back up over her a few times in an ambulance only lane?

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 12:18 AM GMT

Name: Vanessa

I know of at least one person fervently hoping so.....

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 12:21 AM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Person uncomfortable with revealing their identity said:
It's funny what you say about Brits being uncomfortable with grief.

I would assume that most British people, (and certainly the Celts, also) would reject any form of counselling on most occasions. In fact, there's a strong cultural history of our country rather despising the 'weakness' of Americans for their use of psychoanalysis and counselling.
Never heard of the phrase 'stiff upper lip'?

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 6:58 AM GMT

Name: Lux
Home Page:

heh... this is also true of Americans with Celtic heritage. More suffering now = less time in purgatory.

Also, the celtic brain seems to lack a place for storing negative emotions, so they get lost in all that grey matter, and when we - er- they- are asked to talk about said emotions, they can't find the bloody things so they pretend there are none.

Or something.

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 7:02 AM GMT

Name: Lux
Home Page:

Eddie Izzard on the royals: "They're all sort of frumpy, aren't they? Because it's a bad idea when cousins marry."

Thursday, 8 January 2004 - 5:19 PM GMT

Name: http:someoneSomewhere

I've heard of the phrase stiff upper lip sure. That's why I was so surprised at the reaction over there after Princess Di's death. I thought you lot despised that sort of thing.

Friday, 9 January 2004 - 2:54 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Yeah, but it wasn't personal is the get out clause. We still sniff bruquely into our Times when someone's attacked on the Tube.

Friday, 9 January 2004 - 2:56 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Lol! And so true!

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