Today's memorial service for Diana, Princess of Wales was to celebrate her life by coinciding with the anniversary of her death. Which seems aptly confused; like the original events surrounding her demise, today's service leaves us unsure how to react. The sequel was devoid of the controversy of the original funeral - clearly the only interest being generated by The Earl Spencer these days is on the £12.50 he charges the gullible to see his sister's mausoleum. Which forces us instead to consider the whole point of the occasion.
A number of young people, of course, cannot remember Princess Diana, and some of those of us who can might legitimately wonder what the fuss was about. The real answer tells us more truth about ourselves than we care to know, so there is a certain amount of self deception by the commemorative plate-collecting community who tuned in to today's service. The truth is she was a famous, photogenic member of the royal family whose wedding day left an impression longer in the nation's mind than in her husband's.
But we daren't admit that her legacy was Hello! magazine, so people cite her love of children and work for landmines charities. I also think children are, on the whole, a positive thing, and landmines less good, but I don't expect Elton John to commemorate my death by rewording a song he wrote for somebody else. More to the point, people seem happy to forget that charity work is what Princess Diana and her ilk should do. The only way we can possibly tolerate a hoary institution such as the royal family is if they do charity work - if we give them £37million of tax revenue every year, a collection of posh houses and free tickets to the cup final, I think the least we can expect is for them to touch a few lepers, metaphorically speaking. If they didn't visit the odd hospital, they would just be over privileged bags of horseshit, leeching off the public exchequer.
Curiously absent from this year's tenth anniversary pomp is mention of someone else almost as famous who also died in 1997. Someone who actually did touch lepers for real, on a daily basis, in a life of selfless denial. But, then again, Mother Theresa never dressed in Versace.
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