Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why should we care about Diana at 50?

Mark your calendars. July 1st, 2011 would have been the 50th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales.

That is, if she were still alive.

Since her premature death in 1997, it seems people are determined to hang on to her memory. Every other year seems to bring a new biography. Then there's the Diana exhibit, the inquest into her death, her sons holding the Concert for Diana and a memorial service. With Prince William marrying Catherine Middleton, giving her his mother's famed ring, choosing Diana's favorite photographer and reportedly moving into Diana's old residence, Kensington Palace, the media has enough material to work with.

With all of the overkill surrounding her memory, why should we mark her birthday as well? Let's not kid ourselves that there's anything altruistic or meaningful in doing so. Diana, for whatever reason, still sells. That's why you have LIFE book-a-zines and articles filled with futile speculation on what she would have been like had she lived. (Is it ironic for a publication that celebrates the benefits of aging to speculate about the life of a dead person?)

To be fair, she's not the only dead person whose birthday we commemorate if we're reminded. Combining it with a holiday (Christmas) certainly jogs the memory, otherwise it's just a date in the calendar. For Canadians, July 1st is already a holiday - Canada Day. Too bad, so sad. Maybe if we're lucky Google will create a Doodle in her memory.

With each passing year any relevance that Diana had wanes. Because she died at her peak we continue to idealize her. As if she would have continued on that trajectory. If she had died at her lowest point, she would be a sad memory - like Marilyn Monroe or Judy Garland. Glorious in their heyday, pitiful in death. By marking the anniversary of Diana's 50th birthday, what are we really commemorating? What could have been? What should have been?

How about facing the reality of what is. Diana is gone.

Leave her to her rest in peace.

© Marilyn Braun 2011

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Hopewell said...

Way past time to let her rest in peace. Amen.

Marilyn Braun said...

That article about Diana turning 50 is ridiculous. There's no point in speculating on a dead person.

I doubt that her sons appreciate those types of articles and would prefer to remember her the way she was instead of the way people think she might have been.

denise said...

I read your article and I am frankly torn by it. Granted, I am not a fan of reliving the memory of Princess Diana if the press is only planning to trudge up the underbelly aspects of the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, as that really trudges up some inner frustrations I have with the way all of that was managed. But at the same time, I am huge fan of celebrating/remembering the positive aspects of Prince Charles and Diana’s marriage and what it produced: two great kids, and the efforts on the part of both Prince Charles and Diana (just shy of her death) to try and build an ameniable friendship which is hardly brought up at all. I think I hear what you are trying to convey about allowing the memory of Princess Diana to rest in peace so things can move on, but that serves as only burying her further. I believe the real issue for many if not all is the still painful memory of her death, and we react in two ways: bury it and never allow it to be seen again, or celebrate it. Princess Diana’s death was absolutely tragic, but what it really symbolized in the minds of a great many was the death of true promise. That is what stalwarts of Princess Diana miss about her, and why people are still angry at Prince Charles. It is the promise of what (they/she) could have been even if only in post-divorce friendship, and that is hard to let go, especially when you have constant reminders about it in his current marriage to the Duchess of Cornwall. I do not hate the Duchess but I not a fan either. I do not begrudge the fact that Prince Charles finally was allowed to marry her, but let us leave it there. Frankly, I look past them and onward to the promise that Prince William and Catherine will bring to the Monarchy: a great future, a future Princess Diana would be proud of and a legacy we should remember and honor upon her 50th birthday.