Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Letting Diana Go

Much upset in the papers over the state of Lady Di's grave.

I've linked to the Metro. It doesn't rant about this as much as the Express. But then at least it's not the Express.

At the time of Princess Diana's funeral, there was much rejoicing that she was buried in Althorp with her "blood family". It was felt that this cocked a snook at the evil royals, who had treated her so badly. Now her grave is covered in moss and the temple - sorry - wooden memorial is getting a bit worn, everyone has noticed that her brother appears to be an unpleasant cove who seems to have a habit of mistreating women himself, and who has the affrontery to charge people to walk round his garden.

Why shouldn't he charge people to come to Althorp? There's gonna be death duties to pay, when Chas Spencer sleeps with fathers in that little caged-off crypt at Brington. The little Spencers - of whom there are a quiverful - are gonna need a few quid. And it's not like the running costs aren't high enough. And he's got two wives from previous marriages. He's got a lot of outgoings.

And that Memorial?

It may be getting a bit tatty - but then even when it was new, it was a bit tacky? A Temple of Diana that the Greeks aren't asking for.

The Express complains that there is algae in the lake where Diana's grave is. Well, I'm shocked. Algae in a lake? In the summer? Whoever heard of such a thing. Surely they should chlorinate it - if the workers in Lodge Farm can stand the smell. The Duke's butler should go out in a coracle every morning with a sieve. How can England itself survive, if there's algae in a lake?

But worst of all. Diana's grave is getting a bit mossy. And a bit overgrown.

Well, good. That is as it should be. The memorials to her ancestors in their crypt at Brington Church (if the rumours are wrong and she's not been buried there all along) are nice and dry and dusty. The church roof protects them from the elements and the electronic alarm keeps them from the sticky fingers of visitors. But when we lay someone to rest - they're supposed to be at rest. And Diana is resting in our natural element.

It is a belief of some I have spoken to that burial is better than cremation because "the spirit stays around the grave longer" - as if a human spirit is a liquid that can be driven off by heat. Be that as it may, there is a sense, as a grave ages, that we are leaving the departed loved one to God. They are safe in our hearts, but we are not clinging to them - they are set free to rest, to sleep until the Day. From dust we come, and to dust we are returning.

Whereas to keep a monument shining bright, to demand that it stands spotless in a virtual desert, not to allow the grave itself to slip into sleep - that's a grasping at the departed. A refusal to let them go to where we all will go - the demand that they should give us more.

Which of course is what the Express needs. It still sells papers through Diana's name. It's only 18 years since she died - enough still remember the shock of that 31st August 97 (and the apparent national breakdown that followed it). There's still mileage for the Express in trotting out stories blaming the secret services, or the Duke of Edinburgh, or whoever, for a few years, if they can only keep the martyred angel fresh.

She was a women people were touched by. She went tragically early, leaving two sons. But she has gone, now, as we all shall. Let her go. It's the way of things for all of us.

Diana memorial by Kenneth Allen under Creative Commons Licence.


  1. I see that you heartlessly fail to mention Cecil, the people's lion.

  2. neither did you mention Damian Thompson’s piece “Cilla Black deserved a different kind of Requiem Mass.” Perhaps he was thinking of Palestrina’s Nigra sum?


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