The Princess that was

Princess Diana at the Taj Mahal

by Roopinder Singh

Once upon a time there was a fair maiden called Diana. She lived far far away, and though she was a big girl, she was often happiest when she was busy teaching small children.

Of course, she wanted children of her own, and when a Prince proposed to her, there was so much happiness in the Kingdom. “She is so regal, looks like a Queen,” said most as the maiden wed the Prince and became Princess.

There was much merriment, much celebration at the match of the beautiful Princess with the not-so-handsome Prince. People all over the world wanted to see this beautiful couple. They did, through newspapers and television—London hadn’t looked so good for ages!

The Queen stepped out of her parlour to receive the Princess who, in due time, had a bonny baby boy—an heir. “The future King of England is here. Monarchy is Secure,” they all said. The boy soon had a brother.

Whenever the Princess stepped out of her palace, people would be standing on the streets to greet her. “She is out Princess”, they all said. She was the nation’s darling and the whole world was at her feet.

But there were the dark clouds that marred this perfect picture. “She is ill”. “There are strains in the marriage. The Prince is unhappy and is seeking solace elsewhere,” all these murmurs became screaming newspaper headlines!

The life of a Princess is no fairly tale—it is always under the scrutiny of the public, the Press and the ever-present cameras of the paparazzi.

Ever elegant, she was always under a microscope, and her attempts to gain a bit of private space were doomed to failure. There were talks of disagreements, scandals, liaisons, breakdowns, all faithfully reported by the media, all blown up to gigantic proportions.

One day the palace announced that the Prince and the Princess would be separated.

Everyone was stunned. The picture-perfect marriage turned out to be just that, only a perfect picture which covered up for a rather imperfect reality. “If they can’t, what about all the rest of us commoners,” said everyone, as they realised that monarchs are also mere mortals.

But more was to come. The Prince went public on what were essentially private details of his personal life. He also admitted to committing adultery. Everyone was shocked.

All this while the Princess retained a silent dignity, through this did not prevent exposes and books being written about her. There were more shocks in store when the Princess went on the air to bare her soul to millions of people and also admitted to having been unfaithful to her husband. She also blamed the wicked courtiers of the Palace for making her life miserable.

The Princess said the establishment she married into had decided that she was an outsider and she knew she wouldn’t be the Queen of England, but she wanted to be the “Queen of People’s Hearts, in People’s Hearts.”

She poured her heart out on TV, confessed to a dalliance on her part, and devoted herself to rebuilding life after her divorce.

The Prince got together with his beau, his former Princess found solace elsewhere, the paparazzi found a subject which gave them lots of money.

The Princess devoted more and more time to philanthropic projects, a charity fund-raiser here, a cancer hospital there, and the elimination of land mines everywhere. She made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of suffering people, affecting the lives of millions.

But the paparazzi sought out details of her private life, her personal self, which they sold to the highest bidder. Fuzzy pictures and half-baked stories were splashed on various newspapers and magazines. The paparazzi chased her, literally to death.

A pall of gloom descended. The world moaned when this bright star merged into oblivion, when the sad Prince brought home the body of his ex-wife, his late wife.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets of London to pay homage. This is no fairly-tale ending to a tale which began like one.

The Princess is dead. The Queen of People’s Hearts will live ever after.

This middle was published after the death of Lady Diana on August 31, 1997.