Princess Diana is at rest, but the passions that swirled around her tempestuous marriage to Prince Charles are still evident as friends and family prepare to commemorate her life at a memorial service Friday.
The religious service, exactly 10 years after her death in a car crash in Paris, has triggered fresh recriminations against Charles’ second wife. And the media have closely watched to see who’s invited to the ceremony, who’s not coming and who wasn’t asked.
Ten years on, emotions have quieted; there has been no repetition of the vast carpet of flowers laid outside Diana’s palace by grieving Britons.
But memories of the glamorous “people’s princess” hold their grip on the public, remembrances of a secular saint who touched hearts, who suffered, who died.
A prayer written for the memorial service by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gives thanks “for all the memories of her that we treasure still.”
“Her vulnerability and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten touched us all; her generosity gave hope and joy to many. May she rest in peace where sorrow and pain are banished,” Williams wrote.
The enormity of my feeling for this sorrowful event has been expressed below the fold.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn’t understand why President Bush didn’t drop everything and go to England to mourn with the English and thereby help venerate a saintly woman whose abject suffering over having been married to a Prince of England gave hope to us all. “Doesn’t Mr. Bush care about us anymore?” she asked pitifully.
I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why the President seems to be abandoning his country. “Honey, I think his ex-boss, Mr. Rove, had Mr. Bush go to New Orleans in order to keep himself out of the international newspapers. You see, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be impeached in the court of public opinion…”
I tried to keep my voice steady, but it became increasingly difficult – the rage and feelings of helplessness were just too much. I think my daughter could tell something was wrong. I found myself at such a loss for words – nothing made any sense; nothing makes sense anymore. I finally had to admit, “Honey, I just don’t know – I don’t know what’s going on in this country anymore…”
When I finished her lower lip started to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears, “Daddy?” she said, “why is George Bush doing this to the country?” Well, that was it for me: I finally fell apart. She just fell into my arms and we both began sobbing for several minutes.
For once she had to comfort me and get me back on my feet. Sometimes I just think it’s too much, but seeing the strength in my young daughter’s voice helped me to get through.