Poor old Prince Charles must be feeling a sense of relief now that the media’s tearful coverage of the 20th anniversary of the death of Prince Diana is over. For him, it stirred up all the old poisonous accusations that had been hurled at him when they were married.
Newspapers, television and radio have been filled with endless memories and interviews with some of the Princess’s genuine friends and quite a few others who were jumping on the bandwagon of grief and claiming they were close to her. In fact, they weren’t.
Prince Charles must surely have shuddered every day during the last few weeks when he opened his morning papers (that is, assuming he did) to find pages of mawkish features about his damaged former wife.
The Daily Mail (for which I once worked as a diarist) led the field in this memory-laden coverage.After a couple of days, this became somewhat sickening. It was, of course, produced for that section of its readership who are middle-aged women and who, more than most, were deeply affected by the Princess’s tragic death.
All this strikes me as being somewhat cynical — a deliberate targeting and manipulation of a certain type of reader. The death of the Princess was deeply upsetting, as well I know. I reported the tragedy for the Daily Express from the night it happened right to a lengthy piece I wrote about her funeral.
I,too,have various memories of her and incidents linked to her death. There was the morning I went down to Buckingham Palace to see the flowers and messages that were beginning to be placed on the railings.
I was accompanied by a photographer and as we looked at the bouquets and postcards I sensed that a crowd was gathering around us. Suddenly, a voice rang out. “It was people like you who killed her.” It came a from a beefy, threatening man who was clearly about to injure either me or my photographer. The crowd was also closing in.
This was very frightening and had we not been rescued by the two policemen standing guard on the gates, I shudder to think what might have happened. As we were hustled away, the people in the crowds shouted angry threats and someone even threw a (fortunately plastic and empty) bottle at me.
It was all very un-British and totally untypical of the way we are as a people. It was the same shortly after her death when there was fury because the Queen wanted to stay in Balmoral and care for Diana’s shattered sons.
But eventually, the Queen and Prince Philip returned and I recall the icy silence when they stepped from their car to inspect all the flowers that, by now, were stacked high.
Once again, a condemning voice boomed from the crowd. “It is about time you turned up,”they said. Prince Philip looked sharply in the direction of the man who had shouted.
“We’re here now,” he said, his voice quivering with some anger. For a moment, it looked as though it all might turn nasty and the detectives accompany the Queen and the Prince looked anxious.
Then something remarkable happened. The Queen paused and turned round and stared at the crowd. A silence fell — and the Queen smiled. It was, as smiles go, a 90-Watt job. I am no royalist, but that smile had such an effect on the angry crowd.
Then, remarkably, the mood changed and the crowd who, a minute before, had been surly, started to clap. It was her presence that did it. For here was a little old lady in black (the Queen is tiny) gently calming people who were feeling battered by grief. Who were angry.
And is it not a touching coincidence that just as all these lamentations over Princess Diana come to a welcome end, there is news that will cheer up any devoted royalist. The Duchess of Cambridge, pretty Kate Middleton, as was, is pregnant with her third child.
After grief comes a new life. I am about to became a grandfather for a second time — my lovely daughter Jessica is due to have a baby in November — and I am filled with joy at the prospect.
And you might say that, well, I do have that in common with Prince Charles.
Whatever history may make of the dreadful President Trump, one remarkable fact has emerged about him: he has affected the English language. For those of us whose business is words, this is fascinating.
Lexicographers at the Oxford University Press (those erudite folk who seek potential words for their English dictionary) have discovered that about fifty Trump-associated words and phrases have appeared in American usage.
Words like “Trumpertantrum” and “Trumptastrophe” have entered the language. Even the word “bigly” is back in use, despite being a centuries-old adverb. All this is because people create words for whatever they are thinking and talking about.
Trump himself is clearly influencing language. This is largely due to his constant use of Twitter. He has even revived certain words — such as “bigly”, a dormant adverb first used in the 15th century. Its use has soared – thanks to Trump.
There is even a brand new word called a “Scaramucci” — a time measurement referring to a ten day span and named after the ranting Anthony Scaramucci, the White House director of communications who was fired after ten days.
Oh well, a Scaramucci is a long time in politics.