Diana died on 31 August fifteen years ago. Those old enough to remember, know where they were at the moment when they heard that John Kennedy had died, taking with him the hopes and idealism of people all around the world.

And most of us I think, also know where we were when we heard of the death of Diana – there’s only one Diana. Her death left a huge hole in the consciousness of the world. For fifteen years we had gloated over her clothes, admired her beauty, shared her children, followed her travels, marvelled over her commitment to others,  felt her pain at her failing marriage, hated her rival, regretted her lapses of judgement in men and other things, and always loved her.

Who can forget the pictures of her kneeling at the feet of an old blind lady just after her engagement – no Royal had ever knelt to their adoring audience before? Who doesn’t remember those pictures of her on her knees again, arms open wide, love blazing from her face as she greeted the sons she hadn’t seen for a few days? Can anyone forget that picture of her mastering her fear and courageously walking through a minefield to show the world what wars do to women and children?

Do people remember those pictures of her holding the hands of a leper, and another of her sitting with an Aids patient with his hands in hers? These pictures flashed a message around the world – no-one should ever be an outcast. We should include the old and the sick and the pariahs.

And then there were those unforgettable ones of her in a Bosnian cemetery where she came on a grieving mother, and with no common language between them Diana put her arms round this stranger and held her. Being available to her grief, no words necessary. And the shots of her carrying a little Black American girl in her arms to take her for a ride in her limousine, the one wish the little girl had expressed.

There were other pictures – the woman who went to hospital to collect her husband with his broken arm in a sling – the same husband who then, unbeknown to the world at the time, took his mistress up to Scotland to convalesce with his grandmother. Meanwhile, Diana continued to visit the young man she’d befriended in that hospital, and then to visit his family when he got back home.

She went to a childrens’ hospital every few days to paint a little girl’s finger nails pink. She wrote so many comforting handwritten letters to people, that after she died, and the stories were told, people could only marvel.

She did so many kind things in private, and as her marriage broke down, some foolish things in public. But in many ways she lived out all the archetypes of women, and maybe that’s why some people loved her, and some didn’t- if they were repelled by the archetype. So she personified Persephone, the shy goddess of springtime, who in her dark moments refused to eat; she personified Ceres, the mother and good friend, with compassion for all; Hera, the angry, vindictive, jealous and rejected wife of Zeus; Minerva, the career woman who was meticulously briefed and organised in contrast to her husband’s chaotic office, and all the other goddesses. (I wrote of this in depths in my book ‘The Sound of Water’).

She also had that much misused word – charisma – hardened journalists felt her presence, watched her love in action, and melted. She was down to earth- talking to a mayor on an official visit, she had him eating out of her hand when she asked him how much money he gave his children for pocket money!

She had courage. As a shy twenty-one year old on her first tour – in New Zealand – she emerged from a hall to greet the waiting crowds, and was met by a barrage of placards and yelling protestors shouting about Ireland. For a moment she stopped, shocked, and then stepped straight up to the other people standing in front of the protestors and greeted them, all the while enduring the barrage of insults. That took grit. She had courtesy, refusing to shelter from the rain under an umbrella, unless the mayor’s wife standing with her shared it too, the mayor’s wife told me.

In psychological terms, the first relationships people have with their parents shape their later lives. Diana, as the third daughter, was initially rejected at birth by her father who wanted an heir. That sort of emotional shock would have stayed in her psyche, and projected an unconscious fear that she would be rejected by the men she loved. So she was. Her husband rejected her, and then the Pakistani surgeon who she loved for two years and hoped to marry – until he couldn’t face the hullabaloo which surrounded her.

Her last fling on the rebound was unlikely to have lasted. Dodi Fayed simply didn’t have the intellectual and emotional depths that Diana would have needed. She called herself as thick as a plank, because she had failed her school exams. But it’s a given that strife at home blocks children’s progress at school. They can’t concentrate on their lessons when they have emotional trauma going on, and Diana was always torn between her warring parents. On the other hand, people who knew Diana encountered a lively mind and wit, a phenomenal memory, and a musical talent that meant she was able to plunge into the notoriously difficult Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto without any music, when asked to play.

Like all un-integrated people she had many flaws. Who does n’t? That’s no reason to denigrate her, as it’s become fashionable to do in the years since the world wide grief at her death. Her gifts to the world outweighed her private problems. And what were those gifts, apart from her two sons? She left us with a memory of a beautiful soul who wasn’t afraid to love and act spontaneously; who gave compassion- and acceptance – to all who crossed her path, and whose example has given others the courage to open their own hearts and express their feelings.

Her motto was ‘compassion in another’s troubles, courage in your own’. Her acts of random kindness were legion. Her life, her mothering, and her work were an inspiration, while fashion has never been the same since she went to Paris and died. I, like many, still miss Diana’s presence on this earth, and wish I had seen her grow into the magnificent mature woman which was her potential. She was only thirty-six when she died.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

A friend recovering from a major operation came for supper last night, so I made a bit of an effort. Whole chicken legs, slashed at intervals and the slashes stuffed with chopped garlic and grated lemon rind and juice, marinated for some hours before hand. Before popping into the oven, I sprinkled them with flour mixed with ginger, salt and pepper, and sprinkled with some olive oil. Then into a hot oven for about an hour or until cooked. The skin is crisp and tasty. I’d made some of the cream potatoes from the recipe other day, and we had them with Brussels sprouts and little spring carrots.

Not bad. I experimented with a pear and almond tart for pudding – the pastry a wonderful quick easy recipe for another day – the frangipane didn’t taste as almondy as I would have liked… so a bit of jiggling to do there.

Food for Thought

So precious is a person’s faith in God… never should we harm that.

Because He gave birth to all religions.            St Francis of Assisi 1182 -1226


Filed under cookery/recipes, fashion, food, great days, life/style, love, princess diana, royalty, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life

44 responses to “Diana

  1. stutleytales

    She was indeed, a very special lady. I don’t know if there has ever been or ever will be anyone who will match her.


  2. One of my all-time favorite Princess Diana quotes is: “Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” Thanks for your uplifting message!!


  3. Got it. I generally couldn’t give a flip about royals. This was, however, a true idealist who walked the walk. She inspired a chapter in my novel, which anyone reading this is invited to read:

    http://3throughhistory.blogspot.com/2012/06/diana-princess-of-wales-1997.html. Thanks for reminding us!


  4. i remember being so shocked i had to go wake hubby at the time i just thought i must have imagined it, because we are from the north (England) where no one reacts much about anything, the fact that i cried was pretty much frowned upon, but sometimes life gives us people who are more than their flesh and blood, more than their personality, they have a presence, lady di was one of them,
    i am not a big royalist i like queenie and charles is amusing but lady di i respected, as we all did
    rip lady di
    thank you for writing this it was nice to see someone honour her
    i hope you have a lovely day


  5. Thank you Kizzlee for commenting… did people not respond with all the flowers and grief we saw in London and elsewhere? I find that really fascinating… though I went to school in Yorkshire, and knew northerners were phlegmatic, I hadn;t realised that they were less involved than all the emotional southerners at this time!
    So good to hear from you, warm wishes


    • unfortunately not it was worse as i was living in the tiniest of villages at the time it had two rows of houses about ten houses each row and that was it no shops no church no nothing just these houses, and there was an even smaller village just over the way had only one row, yet even though we were this small no one talked, no one mentioned the diana thing, no one even came out fo their houses, i was stuck in this hell until i was pregnant with my second and by then i had saved enough money to buy my first house in a town a bit bigger but i am afraid all northerners pride themselves on just how much they dont show, so no there was no talk never mind flowers and stuff not even a mention, i am fraid that in england the north and the south are two different countries and the people in each are very much different,
      nice to chat with you 🙂 have a great day


  6. Valerie, what a moving post! Running through all those images you chose to mention and then being drawn into your compassionate analysis, really made my throat tighten. Diana’s death is actually my birthday. I was still a teenager at the time and I remember thinking that forever my special day would have a patch of grey, but this post has shown me how to feel a sense of joy for who she was. Lovely words. Thank you.


  7. Valerie what a way with words you have. I fell in love with Diana all over again. “Her death left a huge hole in the consciousness of the world” what moving wording and how true. I also learned things I’d never heard before. Thank you for the memories…. Regards Leanne


  8. I remember all those moments … Kennedy, Diana …. shocking, all. I was in an eighth grade classroom for Kennedy and someone came in and whispered in my teacher’s ear. He burst into tears. Those moments are seared in our memories. Thank you, Valerie, for the trip back to remember Diana. You described her so well. I appreciate the look back.


  9. I remember Diana and all the good things she did and I also remember the sadness she carried inside. I don’t think she was happy with Charles although she did love her sons immensely.


    • Thank you for your comments, I’m sure you’re right about Charles – how could you be happy with someone who had such different interests?
      They were definitely incompatible! So good to hear from you.


  10. 15 years ago?!?!? How can that be. She was the epitome of understated elegance.


  11. The establishment is very fragile, more fragile than the dust on the wings of a butterfly: It is why it needs all the systems of protection in place from denial, to brute force: The feather-like touches of a princess were a remindre of that principle: The more sordid an institution(s) the more insulation from reality it (they) need(s).

    Wonderful post, Valerie, Am looking forward to tommorow!



  12. Amy

    Thank you for the beautiful story of Diana, Valerie! A beautiful, young, loving, and kind woman went through what she did, yet had “compassion in another’s troubles”…


  13. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

    I enjoyed your tribute to Princess Diana, she was indeed the worlds Princess. Some of what you mentioned I knew and some I did not, she was an exceptional woman – her legacy continues in Prince William.


  14. Valerie,

    Beautiful post on Diana. Some people leave us far too soon. We need more exceptional peope llike her in the world today.


    • Sunni, I’ve been trying every which way to leave a comment on your blog, and I’ve been rejected. I wanted to tell you what a wonderful post it was, and how much I’m looking forward to the next instalment, Valerie


    • And thank you so much for commenting on this post…Yes, we could do with some special people, couldn’t we… Mandela and Tu-tu are getting old, as is the Dalai Lama, and it was lovely have a glamorous woman to
      look to for inspiration…


  15. Wonderful tribute, so good to read and, yes, remember all the good that was Diana. Thank you.


  16. Diana was an amazing lady, her heart was filled with LIGHT, her very presence was sufficient to make you feel better. My feeling is that she came on Earth to teach us about LOVE. She certainly succeeded in doing so judging by the number of people who attended her funeral, so many of us grieved for her. She was called by many “The Queen of Hearts” , a most perfect name for such a beautiful being. Thank you Valerie for a lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pat

    It’s fashionable, or ‘cool’, to tear people to shreds here, especially those who cannot answer back. Not keen on cool or people that think they are. And people who are just nice are often misunderstood or worse, denigrated for that very uncool-ness.
    Lovely post.
    Also nice food.
    I just ate (Waitrose) pate, but with all stuff from the garden, salad, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, potatoes, beetroot. My husband is a marvel. And home made dressing too. Yum. 🙂


  18. Hello Pat, yes, I know what your mean about pulling people to pieces- I still read the English papers. It’s really sad that so much negativity is poured into people’s minds, and it all feeds on itself .
    Glad you liked the sound of the food, I loved hearing about yours. In fact I love reading about other people’s meals… went to sleep last night reading Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries!


  19. Beautiful post and very well done. I always admired her. Living in the limelight can’t be fun but she did it as best she could. Most importantly, I think she was a person we could actually identify with no matter what our circumstances or what country we live in.


  20. Thank you so much for commenting, Kate. Yes, it was amazing how people identified with her all over the world. I think she symbolised goodness.
    To my surprise I’ve had many more readers from America for this post than from UK – surprisingly few from the UK, considering that my other posts have had plenty of UK readers….
    So good to hear from you


  21. The best thing I’ve ever read about Diana 🙂


  22. Ralph

    My thoughts on Lady Diana, Valerie? Quite simple. An Angel walked on Earth !!
    Take care. Ralph x


  23. What a poignant post! You write beautifully!!


  24. Stephanie

    The most beautiful mosaic is made up of many tiny broken pieces-I read that recently in another blog and think it is so apt for Diana. She forged her tiny broken pieces to make a glorious whole that shone across the whole world and touched millions. x


  25. Stephanie, thank you so much or reading this at such a late date, and for writing such beautiful comment, so good to hear from you…a .lovely and very apt metaphor for her life…


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