Two marriages ─ and going in ─ one could say today’s title was fit for both. We know the outcome of the first. We’ve faith the second will endure.
Fourteen years have come and gone, since the world was stunned by Princess Diana’s August 31st, 1997 death. A whole new generation is growing up with no personal memory of the automobile accident that took Diana’s life. My thoughts of Diana, back then, appeared in my family newsletter, published in October, 1997. A few of those thoughts appear here along with some green font up-to-date thoughts.
I wondered if at least four factors did not doom, from the beginning, the storybook marriage of Diana Spencer and Prince Charles:
First: the divorce of Diana’s parents that was not without considerable animosity after her mother left for life in Australia with another man — for the excitement she wanted that was not found on a landed country estate. Diana was six when her mother flew the coop. To young Diana’s emotional state of having her world turned topsey-turvey add the sense of abandonment. As the subconscious is greatly impressed by examples and experiences, did Diana draw upon flawed examples when her own marriage began to flounder?
As they were growing up, Diana and her younger brother, Charles ─ now 9th Earl Spencer ─ assured each other that divorce in their adult lives would be no option. Sadly, emotional scars can trump childhood dreams and plans; fortunately, however, Diana was a devoted and caring mother. In this mix, perhaps she provided the right balance for her two sons.
Second, Diana was ill prepared to be a princess. As Lady Diana Spencer and a descendant of Charles II, Diana was not a commoner, but lacked training pertaining to the life and expectations of a member of the royal family. She was barely 20; certainly naive compared to 29 year old Kathryn Middleton whose recent marriage to Prince William followed an eight year courtship and the support of a royal family, wiser from previous experience; and the support of her own intact family. Charles was 12 years Diana’s senior. Their whirlwind courtship was less than a year.
Third, Charles was hard pressed to understand Diana’s dismay that he could still continue a friendship with and still give gifts to a previous love. The relationship was a jolting reality that Diana could not forgive and Charles could not, did not transcend.
Fourth, cause and effect: the emotional baggage Diana took into the marriage, combined with the disappointment of #3, led to eating disorders, suicide attempts, frequents bouts of tears, tiffs with family members and friends, extra marital affairs, divorce, striking out on her own, and a last ride in a Mercedes ─ careening out of control through a Paris tunnel.
For Diana, as is common for humans, the turbulent divorce of her parents, the cause and effect of flawed thinking, a lack of essential knowledge and who knows what else, led to disastrous consequences. For Diana, that thinking included inability to overcome anger and resentment at, both, Charles and over zealous photographers. In her own distress, Diana may have unknowingly set up the fatal accident. One can’t help but remember Princess Grace who maintained grace, graciousness, and dignity even though she knew her husband was unfaithful.
Will the Royal Family survive? I believe it will. Diana stood firm on her desire that Prince William and Prince Harry experience the common life along with becoming learned and comfortable with the trappings of royalty. By time of her death, they were well on their way to becoming fine young men and that they seemed to have done. Credit, especially, Diana for straining against royal tradition in holding firm to her ideas of raising well rounded sons.
Considering that Prince Charles was trained to be prim and proper, unemotional, bound to ceremony, and in other ways set in rigid ways of royalty, I can imagined he was much bewildered by the animosity that rose between the two.
Additionally, Diana’s independence, strong will, sense of style, smile, charitable acts and immense popularity and rapport with the British subjects made her the focus of the press, while Charles and the royal family were pushed out of the limelight to which they were accustomed, and out of favor with the public ─ to which they were not accustomed. As Diana captured and continue to hold attention, along with her love/hate relationship with photographers, the royal family at the time of her death, had already been manuerved into a precarious situation.
During the week long coverage of Diana’s death and in facing a hostile public and a media with guns turned on them, the discomfort of the royal family, particularly of Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth ─ must have been emotionally excruciating. But, in death, it would appear that Diana provided them with the only way out. The very public friction between Diana and Charles came to an unexpected end.
In just weeks after her death, Charles appeared to be more relaxed, more comfortable in public and more his former, personable self. In all appearances, it seemed he had benefitted by ─ was even embracing ─the common touch and examples Diana brought to royalty.
Prince William and Prince Harry, appear well grounded and much capable of working their way through the cruel loss of their mother, and in finding continued growth under their father’s care. Bitter experiences, in the hands of wisdom, can produce favorably – not just for those personally involved ─ but for the observers as well. But, each must make the individual choice whether to profit or suffer by each unwanted impact thrust upon life.
Prince William, with his Diana-like appeal, looks, and touch with the common folk has the capability to become a much beloved monarch. Diana’s breath of fresh air influence on future British rulers may well be her lasting legacy and her most important contribution to England.
Fast forward, now, to May 6, 2011 and the Story Book Marriage of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. Times have changed. Unlike Prince Charles who by royal protocol was denied marriage to the love of his youth, Prince William was given the freedom of choice. In their lengthy courtship, Prince William and Kate have established a firm bond and Kate has been given adequate opportunity to adapt to the royal family and to royal duties. From a middle class family, the former Kate Middleton brings class, dignity, and a common sense maturity that I’m certain will allow her to conduct herself well upon the embarked royal path.
One can not – not marvel – at how promising the future looks for William and Kate. Together, they’ve cast a marvelous sense of honor and duty to the royal household, which certainly gives reason for Olde England to be merry again!
Diana, upon her death, delivered to Charles two young lads who were emotionally capable of heads-up working their way through their grieveous loss. In this manner, she successfully brought them through to their teen-age years for Prince Charles to provide the finishing touches ─ and that he has done ─ I believe very well. With that and with the future of William and Kate in mind, I close this post with faith that the words of Shakespeare’s storied king will hang true: “All is well ended” ─ Act V, Scene III, Line 336 from “All’s Well that Ends Well”.