BY JON ALEXANDER
So here we are, rapidly approaching the twenty year anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. An event that caused a ripple across the world, uniting people in their grief. I have to say much of Diana’s life and certainly her legacy has passed me by – I was sixteen at the time and most of the drama surrounding her divorce from Prince Charles went over my head. Back then I was more bothered about being gay, Usher and GCSEs. I didn’t have much time for the Monarchy, politics didn’t interest me and I was naïve about the whole “celebrity” lifestyle focus that the tabloids and the media embraced. I knew of Diana but that was about it. Still, I’m sure most people can remember where they were when the news broke about the crash…then when the news broke about her death.
I remember waking up and going into our living room and seeing my parents sat watching the TV, both silent and in shock. My Mum told me quite bluntly “Princess Diana has died”. I remember just saying “Oh”. Then she went into detail. With my family being as it is my Mum couldn’t help but point out that my Aunt hadn’t been paying attention and just assumed she’d suffered minor injuries.
My point of bringing this up isn’t to mourn that day more fully but rather to remark on the vast changes the Royal Family seemed to undertake in consequent years as a result of Diana’s death. The Royals always seemed aloof and unapproachable before Diana’s death in 1997. They either seemed to not care or were downright hostile towards the feelings of the masses. Nowadays they seem a lot more carefree, open, modern and have successfully reinvented themselves. Recent years have seen the Queen’s Jubilee, Prince William’s marriage to Kate and the birth of two children who have captured the public’s attention, stirred the national passion for the monarchy and resulted in street parties and celebrations.
My attitude to the Royals has changed considerably over the years as the Queen in particular has made great strides in steering her family back on track and restoring pride in an institution that was staring, pre-1997, at the abyss of irrelevance. Those against having a Royal Family have seen their numbers dwindle, the tired old arguments of them leeching off tax payers’ money (Airmiles Andy springs to mind) and being the equivalent to benefits claimants fall on deaf ears as it’s pointed out that the Royal Family do generate income in their own right. Compared to elected Presidents (the alternative) they represent good value for money and are a sound trade and tourism draw.
To have such enthusiasm shown by the likes of William, Harry and Kate on the international stage can only benefit us Brits, especially in places like America where the closest they have to Royalty are corrupt political dynasties. At heart many Americans see our Royals as their own.
For Brexit trade negotiations around the world the Royals could come in really very useful.
So, as we get closer to remembering a major event in our history we should celebrate what we have and congratulate the Royals on a remarkable turnaround.
From one to another, God Save the Queen.