Since Michael Jackson died almost 2 weeks ago there have been comparisons to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in terms of how shocked the world was when they died. I have to say that Diana's death was far more shocking than Michael Jackson's. He had looked ill and fragile for some time and Diana was bursting with vitality, ready to write the next chapter in her post-royal life. Like Diana, Jackson's death was premature and like Diana, he will be raised to an iconic status. In time we will only remember the good about both of them.
The next comparison to Diana is her funeral. Watched by a billion people it effectly brought most of the world to a stand-still for the week leading up to it. The British royals know how to throw a funeral, on par with the American talent for throwing presidential elections. Diana's funeral was a class act from start to the last glimpse as the hearse drove through the gates of Althorp.
Both funerals could have been private events but each family realized that each of them touched peoples lives. Neither did anything quietly in life, therefore why should it be any different in death? While Diana may have sold more books and newspapers, Michael Jackson is selling more CDs and DVDs. Diana may be frozen in time as a beautiful princess, but Jackson will always be a brilliant entertainer having influenced many of todays top performers.
It will be tough to gauge the response to the memorial service planned at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The service will be broadcast like Diana's funeral, to a world wide audience. But unlike Diana in 1997 we now have Twitter and Facebook to add the element of participation for those unlucky enough to not have won tickets to the event. Billed as the hottest ticket in town, the royals must be shaking their heads at the absence of dignity. Diana may not have been royal, but she was given a send off that set the bar high for the demise of any future public figure. So who will win in the world-wide funeral stakes?
It depends on your tastes.
© Marilyn Braun 2009
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