Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Queen.....

Happy new year all.

As to keep this blog one which is a commentary on news and culture I shall lay off the personal stuff for a while. Washing my dirty linen in public is not a pretty sight.

Any more than the debacle involving the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, ‘People’s Princess’, ‘Queen of Hearts’ etc was a pretty sight.

I saw Helen Mirren star in ‘The Queen’ the other night. And I was impressed by her performance. Along with the convincing portrayals of the Duke of Edinburgh and Alistair Campbell. The political machinations behind the scenes of the newly elected Blair government were interesting, to say the least.

I hate to say this – but the royals came off better in this than did the British public. Don’t get me wrong – I felt very sorry for Diana and her premature death was a tragedy. Her troubled marriage and her mental health problems made her a figure who could be related to by people of all classes. I don’t buy the line promoted by many leftists that she was nothing but a rich bitch. She may have been an aristocrat but she was by no means a happy one. One who did not have the skill of keeping her emotions under control. But, I did not know the woman personally. Therefore her death meant little more to me than would that of any other stranger. I did not buy into the mass hysteria, although I understood why she was a figure related to by ordinary people. That is as far as it goes.

During the movie the Duke of Edinburgh remarked on the hysteria over the death of a woman they never knew and said ‘And they think we’re mad?’ Likewise, the Queen Mother advised her daughter not to capitulate to the whims of ‘a bunch of hysterics with candles’. They wanted it kept private, but in the end the Queen had no choice but to give the fans of her former daughter in law what they wanted – a personal visit with a live address on television, having already conceded to the demand for a public funeral. It could not have been easy as the Queen is not of the same generation of Charles and his siblings, with their messed up love lives and their public relations disasters. Charles was portrayed as being more empathetic to the public’s feelings for his former wife than was his mother. And face it, the Queen could not have had much love for Diana, who since the marriage had been from her perspective nothing but trouble to her family. Any affection was nothing beyond the fact that Diana was the mother of her grandchildren, William of course being in line to be king one day.

I found myself not exactly liking, but to some extent respecting and admiring the Queen’s character. Neither am I a fan of the institution. But she was brought up to keep her emotions under wraps and never to express them in public. She can be admired for keeping it together, at the very least, which is more than could be said for poor Diana, the product of a fairytale that was not to be. The cold and stiff upper lip portrayed by Queen Elizabeth contrasts with the open displays of vulnerability displayed by Diana during her lifetime. Both may have their ups and down sides – but it seems to be the Queen’s path that wins through in this world, for now. Although the cult of celebrity may indicate a shift, as many people speculated during the Diana spectacle.


redtown said...

"The Queen could not have had much love for Diana who...had been from her perspective nothing but trouble for her family..."

In the film, Prince Charles tells his mother, "The Diana we knew was very different than the Diana idolized by the public", but this truth is never developed in the film.  You mention Diana's mental health problems; I will expand.

While the "people's princess" remains the icon of superficial popular culture, the Royals knew a very different, darker character behind the facades of glamour and pseudo-compassion.

Both Diana and her brother, Charles Spencer, suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder caused by their mother's abandoning them as young children.  A google search reveals that Diana is considered a case study in BPD by mental health professionals.

For Charles Spencer, BPD meant insatiable sexual promiscuity (his wife was divorcing him at the time of Diana's death). For Diana, BPD meant intense insecurity and insatiable need for attention and affection which even the best husband could never fulfill. 

Clinically, it's clear that the Royal family did not cause her "problems". Rather, Diana brought her multiple issues into the marriage, and the Royal family was hapless to deal with them.

Her illness, untreated, sowed the seeds of her fast and unstable lifestyle, and sadly, her tragic fate.

The popular version of events is "Royals cold and cruel; Diana a victim". But things were more complicated than that. In reality, the Queen's reactions to Diana's death surely covered a range of ambivalent feelings, and was not just a cold insistence on protocol, as suggested by the film.

Gracchi said...

I haven't seen the film and honestly didn't really know much about Diana at the time so am no specialist but in the best blogging manner am going to pontificate anyway. I felt at the time vaguely uneasy about the whole thing- it was as if we owned the family grief and for it to be real had to see it and check it was happening. We couldn't leave the family to cope on their own in their own way- for me the Queen's first place and Charles's for that matter was with her grandchildren not with the public- they were the ones who were really suffering from the death not us. We were just having what Nye Bevan called an 'emotional spasm'. Good article and I msut see the film.

Liz said...

I second what Gracchi said. Redtown, I see what you mean about Diana's mental health problems. The royal family were of course ill equipped to deal with them. But I feel that while Charles did not cause her problems (and hence the mythology is one sided) the marriage nonetheless didn't help. Diana herself contributed to the myth of herself kind and caring - royals bad, as was evident in some of her public statements.