"Death of Princess Diana" joke

The Immense Consequences
The death under any circumstances of a member of the Royal Family would be
a cause for sadness. Had anyone made a list of those whose death might
have been anticipated, Princess Diana's name would have been last on it,
hence the worldwide shock and outpouring of grief: disbelief, anger,
analysis, sadness and perhaps the reluctant beginnings of acceptance.
Strong emotions would have been triggered had any Royal been even slightly
injured in an accident. The sudden, total loss of Diana, Princess of
Wales in a violent car crash is one of the greatest national tragedies to
befall Britain since the Second World War.
The memory of August 31, 1997 will long remain in people's minds: first
we saw the gruesome wreckage of the Mercedes after hitting an underpass
wall at high speed following a reckless chase through Paris from the Place
Vendome to the Pont De L'Alma. By strange twists of fate, the crash
occurred beneath the elegant Avenue George V, named after Prince Charles'
great-grandfather. Diana was travelling with Dodi Fayed, her film
producer friend, to his Bois De Boulogne home, which is opposite the
former home of the Duke of Windsor, Prince Charles' great-uncle, now owned
by Mr. Fayed's father. After initial reports of a broken arm, concussion
and other minor injuries to the Princess, the world waited for news. For
more than three hours there came only an ominous silence. Then, just
before 6: 00 am in Paris, near midnight in Washington, the awful moment
arrived. It fell to the experienced but obviously shocked BBC Television
presenter, Nik Gowing, to be the first to utter the unutterable words, and
thus break the horrific news to the watching world: "Buckingham Palace
has just confirmed that Diana, Princess of Wales has died."
Moments later, the BBC merged its domestic and international networks,
having already been joined by ABC in the United States and other networks
worldwide. By now, tens of millions were watching, except, ironically, in
Britain where it was not yet dawn. On came Martyn Lewis, the popular BBC
presenter, a sensitive and reassuring born-again Christian who possesses
gravitas, compassion and authority, wrapped in his soft welsh accent.
"This is BBC Television from London", he intoned with a solemn sense of
occasion. After he repeated the dreadful announcement, the screen filled
with an upside-down Union Jack as' God Save The Queen' was played. At
that moment there began a global convulsion of grief. In many ways, this
is the first televised royal death. Such dreaded images had never
previously been seen so universally. The murder of Earl Mountbatten in
1979 at the age of 79 was equally shocking, but he was not such a senior
member of the Royal Family. At the time of the last major royal death,
that of King George VI in February 1952, television was a feature of very
few homes, and the real comparison - the shock, the young charisma
suddenly terminated - is with the death of John F. Kennedy 34 years ago.
Across Britain, some were awoken by telephone calls from Australia or
America, others by the cries of grief-stricken family members who had
switched on the radio. In the countryside, the traditional muffled church
bells alerted a waking nation to a royal death. Just like November 22,
1963, everyone will always remember exactly where they were when they
heard the news. Lord Blake, the historian and constitutional advisor to
Buckingham Palace, whose criticism of the Princess we mentioned last week,
told The Times he was listening to music on the radio having been unable
to sleep, when the program was interrupted with the news. "It was a
dreadful feeling. I was absolutely stunned. I lay staring ahead of me.
Sleep would have been impossible. I still feel numb." Richard Branson,
head of Virgin Airlines, was flying from Los Angeles to London when the
pilot woke him with the news, and he personally went on the public address
system to tell the passengers. Lord Archer, the novelist and politician
Jeffrey Archer, was awoken with the news by a telephone call. "I woke
Mary. Her first words were:' Those poor boys'. It was one of the darkest
moments of my life." So it was for every British person.
So what went wrong and what are the consequences? First, what went wrong?
Quite simply, everything. It was all so preventable. In a desperate
quest for the happiness that had eluded her in childhood and in her
marriage, the Princess shrugged off the need for proper safety
precautions. Concern had long been expressed in official circles that she
was jeopardizing her safety by refusing to allow Scotland Yard bodyguards
to accompany her at all times. She was adamant that she wanted no
protection despite fears of kidnap, terrorist attack or the kind of
avoidable accident that killed her. Things were different when her sons
travelled with her because of their royal status, but she apparently
regarded herself as less important. We must now ask whether that decision
was hers to make. The Royal Family, having removed her "Royal Highness"
status, were content to distance themselves from her, came up with the
flimsy justification that as the ex-wife of the Prince of Wales, she was
no longer really a genuine part of the Royal Family and, presumably with
mixed feelings, acceded to her unwise request. Assuming her death to have
been an accident, all these were grave errors of judgment, whose tragic
results we now know.
Of course she was still part of the Royal Family, and as the mother of the
future King she would always be a very important member, especially after
her son was crowned, and that is another reason why the British public are
so very upset and angry. First, she was going to be their next Queen.
Then, having lost that opportunity through her husband's infidelity, she
was still the mother of the next-but-one King and might later have been
given a title like the Queen Mother. Perhaps the Royal Family's error of
judgment was acknowledged when her casket was draped with the Royal
Standard rather than the Union Jack.
Nobody as essential to Britain's future as the Princess of Wales should
ever have been allowed to ride in a car without a seat belt, driven by
anyone other than a trained royal driver, much less a drunken security
guard. Underlying this tragedy is a complex tapestry of sin. Put
plainly, she would never have been there in the first place had she and
Prince Charles kept their wedding vows. All have sinned, but few have
paid so completely. In this case, it is Princes William and Harry who are
paying the price of their parents' sin.
An examination of Princess Diana's relationships reveals some contemporary
friends but a paucity of mentors. Her parents were divorced
acrimoniously. Soon before she was pushed into the world spotlight and her
need of a trusted mentor became paramount, her father was almost
incapacitated by a stroke; he died in 1992. Her mother, Frances Shand
Kydd, remarried and after living for some years in Argentina, became a
recluse on the Isle of Seil, off the west coast of Scotland. Her brother
moved to South Africa. Though she remained close to her sisters, she felt
virtually abandoned by her family of origin.
When she turned for comfort and affection to her husband, he was
embarrassed and unsure how to react. He turned away, preferring to attend
to his public engagements and his mistress. Later, he publicly confessed
that he had never loved her in the first place, which must have been
devastating for Diana to hear. He then divorced her. Though Queen
Elizabeth continued to show her kindness, she was largely abandoned by the
Royal Family and left to her own judgments, which in many ways were
coloured by her low self-image and, consequently, were often less than
Few have yet appreciated the long-term consequences of her death, but it
is a profound tragedy for so many reasons. First, it is the loss of a
beloved national and international figure who, despite her adultery and
romantic affairs, was held with great affection deep in the hearts of the
British people and of millions around the world. She once said she
thought people needed to be shown love and affection, and of course she
was right. In many ways, Diana redefined the role and image of the Royal
Family, and by her example demonstrated for them what she believed and
hoped they could become, and above all, what she wanted Prince William to
become as King: regal yet compassionate, formal yet affectionate.
Indeed, much of her popularity stemmed from the enormous affection she
showed to children, the sick, the dying, the old, the poor, the
marginalized and the unloved, people who might never otherwise have
expected to encounter a royal personage. She was the Royal Family,
Hollywood and Mother Teresa rolled into one and she became more than the
sum of those parts. Her devotion to such causes stemmed from an altruism
as close to genuine Christian conduct as the world has recently seen. Her
personal life was just the opposite. Some might condemn it as sleazy and
sinful, but that lacks mercy. In her vulnerability, she sought solace
from a sequence of men, and quite naturally, she faced the same
temptations as everyone else, not always successfully. In the end, it was
her vulnerability to those temptations that took her life.
Of equal importance, her sudden passing is also the loss of the future
King's mother. Diana was a direct descendant three times over of King
Charles II, and actually had more British royal blood in her than does
Prince Charles. In terms of lineage, therefore, Prince William is the
most royal heir to the throne for hundreds of years. He might reasonably
expect to become King in his thirties, by which time his mother would have
been in her fifties. He may well have imagined her as his loving, wise
and supportive guiding light who would have enabled him to bear the
burdens of one of the greatest responsibilities on earth.
Suddenly, the young Prince's dream has been fragmented into a horrific
nightmare from which he cannot awaken. There are so many different
tragedies with which he and his brother have to deal, the most central of
which is that they have just lost their mother in the most unspeakable
circumstances at the ages of 15 and 12. They could have nightmares for
years just thinking about it. All death is sad. The sudden death of any
mother is a devastating blow to any child, but the loss of this particular
mother, a beautiful, warm and vivacious woman they both adored, is very
much more than that: it is an assault on the natural order of things, a
brutal abrogation of their sense of right and wrong. It is the worst
possible catastrophe for Prince William who, as we reported last week, is
already being trained for his future duties.
The Princess of Wales understood better than most how Britain works and
how ordinary people really feel. She invested so much time in helping to
form Prince William's character not only because she was a loving mother
but because, while voicing the need for Royal Family reform, she
understood the unique place of the British monarch in reinforcing the
stability, success and character of the nation and of the world beyond.
She was teaching William to balance, as she attempted to do, royal
formality with an almost Marian compassion, deference with honesty,
propriety with warmth, self-care with service to others, all of which the
Royal Family has often commended but rarely practiced in public. Their
culture, heritage, milieu and generational differences have proscribed
such familiar conduct.
Until last weekend, William was spared the abandonment his mother knew so
well. He may yet grow up to become a bridge between the two roles of the
Royal Family, just as he and his brother are unique biological bridges
between its two branches. Camille Paglia said that Diana resembled the
Mater Dolorosa. Her imperfections will be forgotten but her role as the
Mother of Sorrows will be remembered, especially by her sons. What will
be the effect of this devastating tragedy and awful suffering on their
They cannot even retreat from the world to grieve in peace. A few hours
after being awoken to learn that they must live the rest of their lives
without their mother's love, the Princes dutifully accompanied the Queen
and other members of the Royal Family to Morning Service in Crathie Parish
Church near their Balmoral estate on the River Dee in Scotland. The Queen
even smiled and waved to onlookers. Inside the church, they remained
somber but composed while parishioners wept as the normal prayers for the
Royal Family were adapted: "We remember all those who at this time need
to know Your presence, all those whose lives are darkened by tragedy and
grief who need to know more than human comfort and friendship. We pray
for our Queen and her family, the Prince of Wales, Prince William and
Prince Harry."
Eventually, Prince William's shock may give way to a dialectic between his
parents' different visions of royalty. If he is mentored correctly,
William may inherit and use to great international benefit his mother's
ability to comfort the disadvantaged while upholding cherished traditions.
The most important question is whether this awful tragedy will produce a
future Governor of the Church of England who is closer to Jesus. Paul
said: "Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and
character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured
out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit." (Romans 5: 3-5). We
must pray that these scriptural truths will be proven in William, whose
need for good mentors is urgent. Paul also said: "Bad company corrupts
good character." (1 Corinthians 15: 33)
Diana's reforms are essential if the monarchy is to be transformed into
the positive influence the world so badly needs. That is why her loss is
so tragic in personal and national terms and because she alone stood for
those reforms. It is too early to say whether her death will bring to an
end in the Royal Family the idea of sharing affection and warmth, a role
that will always be her epitaph. History is often shaped by huge, tragic
events like this; the dead can sometimes exert more influence than the
living. Much will depend on how well Prince William is able to overcome
the tragedy, how well he is helped by those around him, and how
effectively people pray for him and his brother. Much can be achieved
through intercessory prayer.
We believe the death of the Princess was a tragic accident despite
contrary rumours. Nonetheless, there are questions. Was there a gunshot
before the crash, as one witness told the police? If so, and the shot hit
the front right tire, would that explain why the driver, an off-duty
security guard, lost control of the car as it entered the underpass? The
driver drank massive quantities of alcohol before being asked to drive the
Princess and Mr. Fayed. Knowing his intoxicated condition, he declined.
So why was he forced to drive anyway? As Washington well knows, dead men
make useful scapegoats. Unless the car was sabotaged, why was the driver
not instructed to slow down when the car reached excessive speed? Why did
rescuers take two hours to extract Diana from the car when equipment was
readily available? Why were those who tried to give First Aid shooed
away? How could photos of the victims be sold to the German tabloid' Bild'
if the police apprehended the paparazzi and confiscated their film? Well,
was this crash deliberate?
It is inconceivable. Could something of that nature really be done
without the Prime Minister's approval? There was no doubting the shock on
Tony Blair's face when he learned the news. However, the death is not
totally inconvenient: first, the Royal establishment now has exclusive
access to William and will determine those who can influence his future
without being concerned about his mother's opinion; secondly, an Egyptian
Muslim playboy has been prevented from becoming stepfather to the future
King, as was about to happen, which would have produced an untenable
situation given the Monarch's role as "Defender of the [Christian] Faith";
thirdly, the Royal Family has been bathed in a worldwide outpouring of
affection and sympathy while the paparazzi and the deceased driver receive
the blame; and fourthly, almost all the Princess's $27 million divorce
settlement and millions of dollars in jewellery will now be returned to
the Royal Family. If there was foul play - and we shall never know - a
further observation must be made. There are certain parameters within
which the people of the West are permitted to live, work and prosper
freely, both in Britain and in America. When one challenges the system, as
Princess Diana undoubtedly did, an invisible line is crossed and death in
one form or another often seems
to follow.

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