I have always considered the funeral of Princess Diana to be the ultimate triumph of hypocrisy. Her marriage was a managed fiasco, her engagement was a farce, as the poor girl had only been alone with her future husband nine times before they became engaged; and as for her marriage! The only good thing to emerge from that disaster area were the two young Princes: and that was what she had been virtually hand-picked for. Diana was regarded by most of the Royal organisation as, quite simply, a brood-mare. The Line needed a direct heir, and hopefully a spare, and when that particular task was achieved, Diana’s job was seen to be completed: Charlie just waddled back to the local aristocratic bleached-blonde bicycle he had been, literally, riding for most of the time his marriage was in being, and Diana; that wonderful mother and woman was left to pick up the pieces. She received some support from Edna, but the rest of the pack watched as her life fell apart, then the separation; and finally the divorce.
Advice came there none, help was in short, very short supply; and as a direct result; the paparazzi’s wet dream gave up her Royal Protection detail, and she walked forwards, alone, into the storm; checking out the fools, vagabonds and Hooray-Henries as she passed. She died as she had lived, at a high and dangerous speed, accompanied by some Arabic dozy wanna-be who fancied his chances. She was guarded by the Arab’s father’s bodyguards; but unfortunately no-one thought to breathalyse the driver, and she died because the drunken fool tried to out-race paparazzi on high-powered motorcycles.
But worse was to follow. The funeral, a purely private one as wished for by the Spencer family, was transformed into a semi-state occasion; probably as a belated attempt to apologise for all the crap the Establishment, together with the Royals; had ladled out so carelessly when she was alive.
Her brother, Earl Spencer, did not wish anyone but Charles and himself to walk behind the cortege; but he was told the boy princes William & Harry had consented to walk behind their mother’s body. Interviewed by the BBC, Earl Spencer stated ‘Buckingham Palace staff, and Government lied to me. I was distraught; never mind the boys; as they walked through that wave of emotion from the crowds as they followed the noise of the horses’ hooves.’
At the funeral itself, Diana’s sister spoke, and was instantly forgotten, Prime Minister Blair spoke with a biblical quotation, and I doubt if anyone really noticed it; Elton John’s re-working of the song which actually was written in memory of Marilyn Monroe was played, and it was as gloopy as was envisaged; but then Earl Spencer stood, faced his world-wide audience, gripped the lectern, and delivered his verbal atom bomb, aimed straight at both the paparazzi whom he blamed for her death; and the Family whom he believed had deserted her once her task was over.
The only genuine emotion in the whole circus, came not from the funeral, not from the Abbey, not from the assembled show-biz squad in the cheap seats: but instead from the hundreds of thousands seated in the various Royal Parks. As Earl Spencer finished his dose of verbal dynamite as he praised his dead sister; ending with the words:- we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned”: that massive audience stood, almost as one; and sent that applause, never, never ever before heard at a funeral, rolling across the Parks, sweeping across the silent, still streets; and thundered into the crowded Abbey itself; startling the staid and sober congregation, just as Diana herself had done so many times before.
That was the single tribute which was honest, was heartfelt, did actually meant something.