‘Royal-tea’: the long-lasting fascination of Princess Diana

The recent release of season 4 of the British period drama TV series, The Crown, has unsurprisingly caused a lot of buzz. This season is like no other as it paints a portrait of Britain in the 80s, brushing upon so many controversies; it is emotional, gripping, serving but at the same time spilling generous cups of (Royal) tea. 

What seems to be the most engaging viewpoint of this series is the appearance of a new character, a certain young, endearing blonde girl who goes on to become Diana, the Princess of the People. Diana will always be an unforgettable story. Married to the Crown Prince Charles at the tender age of 19, what seemed like a fairytale turned into a soap opera that had the whole world in tears. In her lifetime, she fought many battles for herself, but also for others. She was one of the most influential spirits for she was a supermodel, fashion icon, political figure, and an advocate for human rights. Her death in August 1999 brought sorrow to the world and is still considered one of the most devastating tragedies. This article explores the topics she brought to discussion and the various expanses she did influence. 

Love: Getting married at 19, to the future King of England no less, cannot be easy. She was a shy, blushing girl who in the simplest of terms, did not anticipate all that she would have to sacrifice. Though at first her marriage to Prince Charles seemed to be straight out of a fairytale, their marriage got a bit crowded. There were affairs, disagreements, and a certain sense of uncomfortableness. There’s a famous internet interview clip where the newly engaged couple were asked if they were in love and Diana blushes saying, “of course” but Prince Charles added to that in a rather sardonic manner, “whatever in love means”, which, Diana says later on, was a traumatising experience. We next have the love triangle with Camilla Bowles and here is where things got controversial. The thing to marvel at is the fact that Diana and Camilla were friends! The picture of the two, walking side by side at the Ludlow racecourse is uncomfortable to look at. Diana suspected the affair between Charles and Camilla, and she began to obsess. In a later interview she even said, “As I walked up the aisle, I was looking for her (Camilla)”.  The affair went on for years and every time Charles was away, she suspected he was with Camilla. Diana finally confronted Camilla on this, and separated from Charles with a final divorce in 1996. Diana also had her fair share of lovers; from Major Hewitt (who released a book on it) to her bodyguard, she admits being unfaithful to Charles after suspecting his affairs in the famous BBC interview. Her final lover was Dodi Fayed, who was also with her and passed away in the tragic car accident. He offered her vacations to St Tropez, protection and although it wasn’t a very serious relationship, it was passionate and very public.

Fashion: Lady Diana had impeccable taste. Let’s start with the wedding dress, designed by Elizabeth Emmanuel; Diana could’ve had anyone design her dress, but she went for a young designer who was only one year out of college. The dress is iconic, and she managed to pull off a long veil and the easily crumpled fabric. Next comes the dress in which she danced with John Travolta in at the White House. The two of them coming together on that dance floor in that building is peak iconography. Next, came the infamous “revenge dress”…her fashion statements were an effective weapon. When the Charles and Camilla affair had been announced, Diana visited an art gallery. There, she stopped the car 100m from the entrance and stepped out in one of the most iconic interpretations of an LBD, with a huge smile as she greeted people. The next day, tabloid titles were the Charles and Camilla affair, but the coinciding picture was Diana looking like a million bucks! We also need to address the trends she started; women from London to Tokyo wanted the Diana haircut, her sweatshirt and cycling shorts athleisure combo, and minimalist yet exquisite jewellery. She was great at formal and fun dressing and is even regarded as a poster girl for the summer with her array of vacation photos. 

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Mental Health: In her later interviews, Diana talks about topics like eating disorders, postpartum depression, and isolation, which were never talked about then and are hardly talked about now. She brought to light these topics by speaking about her struggles with bulimia, not feeling good enough for her partner, and suicidal thoughts which were really not something the Royal Family spoke about…ever. 

AIDS & being a humanitarian: Diana had a huge heart and she wanted to document the challenges of all people. When a child gave her flowers, she crouched down and greeted them. When she went to a hospice, she sat at the edge of beds and made conversation. When 1 in 4 doctors refused to treat patients with AIDS for fear of transmission, she was the first public figure to actually shake hands of patients without gloves, saying “so you can shake their hands or give them a hug, heaven knows they need it”.  She travelled all around the world setting up charities, walked dangerous minefields, and was a tireless advocate. It was because of her that the first arms treaty with humanitarian provisions was made. 

Di-mania: The media and Diana fed off of each other and she knew how to work them. But, after a certain point, the media wanted to expose every intimate moment in her life. The most atrocious media frenzy was the “Bahama Mama” tabloid with pictures of her swimming while pregnant and The Royal Family were furious. There was a development of “stalkerazzi” recording her every move and always wanting more than a pound of flesh. The media also elevated Diana as a powerful woman; she had the power of the world’s attention. When she was a shot in the arm, she was a pure heroine for the press. And it was to the media that she lost her life, as the paparazzi chased her car on motorbikes through the tunnel in Paris. 

One of the biggest ironies as brought out by her brother was that Diana, a woman named after the goddess of hunting, came to be the most hunted woman ever. Her death is tragic and her life was sorrowful but she was a charismatic, tactile woman with an energy that actually changed things and this was the reason for the roar of claps at her funeral service. Her life will be celebrated forever. 

Image: Annie Spratt via Unsplash