I’m not a royalist, but have long found the institution of the royal family fascinating. I remember vividly – as do most people alive at the time – where I was when I heard that Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in Paris. I watched the TV coverage and a week later I watched her funeral. I didn’t understand then and I still don’t understand the outpouring of what to me seemed like hysterical grief from people who had never met the woman. However, more than enough has been written on that subject without me adding to it.
Last week I started watching the programme about Diana as remembered by her sons. I’m not really sure why I wanted to watch it, but while it was quite a moving tribute to a clearly much loved and much missed mother, it wasn’t really that interesting. (I nodded off towards the end) So when I heard about the programme to be broadcast tonight which – as far as I can tell – largely consists of videos made of Diana when she was having training in public speaking, it didn’t strike me as something I’d be bothering to watch. Over the next couple of days press stories emerged about the subject matter of at least some of the tapes. Two that stuck in my mind were that Diana apparently discussed her sex life with Charles and also an affair she had. Channel 4 have described the programme as “Brand new documentary of Diana at her most candid, natural and charismatic which provides valuable insight into one of the most iconic women of the late 20th century”
I haven’t followed all the debate around this, but it feels wrong to me that this material be placed in the public domain. I do not care about anyone’s sex life other than my own and I cannot see how conversations Diana was having which (I assume) she did not intend to be made public, can now be considered in the public interest. If she had not died, would these tapes be broadcast now? No, of course not, because she’d have every lawyer at her disposal making damn sure they were not shown. If they were to be shown fifty years after her death would I watch them? No, because I just can’t see how this can be considered a serious insight into Diana’s life and personality. Its just prurient gossip and I’m disappointed in Channel 4 for showing it.