NOTE: This post originally appeared June 29, 2011 on my old blog. It has been updated.
Of all the “what if'” articles, blog posts and novels, I think a June 2011 issue of Newsweek magazine does the best job in guessing what would have become of Princess Diana had she lived to see her 5oth birthday [which is this Friday].
Here are some of my own guesses–some the same, or nearly the same, a few different from Newsweek’s. As readers of this blog know I was not a fan of the late Princess. I found her vapid, self-serving and other uncomplimentary things. I did not, however, accept that everything wrong with her was her fault. So, here goes:
Yes, Diana would have forgiven Charles & Camilla once she saw how much happier the “three” in the Wales marriage were when sorted out by generations. Charles was never, ever the right guy for her. She was never, ever, the gal for him. Was it right to carry on with another woman? No, but at least Charles kept it to ONE woman. I’m sure by this time she and Charles would deal with each other “just fine” when required and would not necessarily go out of their way to see each other, but could do fine when they had to. Huge improvement over the late 80s and early 90s.
Diana, faced with her grown sons’ opinions of her man-chasing would have become embarrassed by both her chasing and her Oprah-izing in the “Panorama” interview she would have come to wish she’d never done. Ditto that Andrew Morton best-seller. You see, all of this would have made her sons look at her in the wrong light. They would also have come to resent the way she used them to make herself look better. But, they’d love her–warts and all. They would also have seen how her indiscretions helped the press to make their own lives even more public.
Yes, I think Diana would have dumped Dodi–he was too stupid for her. Even though she wasn’t much of a student in her childhood, Diana was a fast learner as an adult. She needed successful people. She would likely have remarried, as was suggested in Newsweek, to a high powered businessman–probably not a Brit, but someone American or European.
She would have had one more child–another son. Like Scarlett O’Hara, she’d find it tough to get back her perfect figure and would be tempted back to bulimia. But her housekeeper would notice and gently nudge her to therapy having previously worked for other stick-women, she’d know just who to call for poor Di. Sadly, that marriage too would go to pieces, but quietly, more maturely. She and her little son would have homes on both sides of the Atlantic and he would eventually be shuffled off to boarding schools and, like his half-brothers before him, would come to loathe Sports Day and other times when parents visit–his mother would get all the attention.
Diana would give up on her quest to be the next Mother Theresa, and re-ignite her passion for charity work by becoming a polished figure-head CEO for some charity of worldwide status. She’d have a driver, secretaries, etc and would arrive in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes at a London office Tuesday thru Thursday. She’d spend the evenings going from glittery party to glittery party. She would have begun to grow up and see that she did more good at the parties than in the field being cleared of land mines. She’d twist arms on major donors and get tons of good done thru the money they would give. She’d stop doing what her ex-sister-in-law the Princess Royal would call “stunts.”
She would watch in horror as the ex-sister-in-law she prodded into taking the first divorce, Sarah, Duchess of York, self-destructed 100% in public. She would step-in and guide Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie into acceptable positions in quiet charities. She would never speak to Sarah herself, or for that matter, to Andrew.
She would belittle Sophie Wessex (the ultimate Di-wanna-be) at every possible private moment and, whenever possible publicly, upstage her. She’d still love upstaging people but would pick more suitable targets. She would have tea with the Queen once a year, but only when Prince Philip was away. Aside from her ex-husband and her boys she’d have next-to-nothing to do with firm of Windsor Ltd., going so far as to make sure Her Majesty wouldn’t be watching the boys play polo before she’d show up at Smith’s Lawn to cheer them on.
I doubt, though, that she’d approve of Kate Middleton. Her parents, after all, were “in trade.” Diana was part of one of the most aristocratic families in the Realm and knew it. She may have played at being a nanny and a nursery school teacher’s aide, but she was LADY Diana. As another aristocratic girl sniffed when she said she wouldn’t marry Prince Charles, “I already HAVE a title.” Compared to the Spencers of Althrop, the Windsors of Windsor are parvenus. The daughter of a flight attendant marrying the heir SHE produced?? Not in this lifetime, darling. But William, being equally Charles’ son, and having apparently inherited every stubborn gene in both families, would have his own way. Mummy would be polite but brittle. She would loathe Kate for being younger, better educated and for being the center of William’s life. Had Diana lived, Chelsy Davy would never have been heard of. No way, no how. Cressida Bonas, maybe, but Meghan Who?
But what about those two cute grandchildren–George and Charlotte? She’d adore them, of course and they her. It’s how it works with grandchildren. But William would not tolerate the photo op outings with the press pre-arranged. Nor would he want his children put thru any of the emotional distress he was put through as a child. George would never be put in the position to shove Kleenex under the door to his crying Granny. Nor would either child be introduced to any of her future lovers, for they would still be around.
But the real question: Would Diana ever have been happy? No. Her early life left her too damaged to find conventional happiness. She would be happy at times, but contentment, true, honest contentment would never be hers. I do think she would finally have gotten therapy and current day medications that would have helped tremendously. The idolizing by the public, her past indiscretions, her beauty, her too-high pedestal, her belief in her own press reviews, all would combine to sabotage any lasting, full-filling happiness she might grasp. And, by living she would never have been allowed to become a near Saint. The public would have still adored her, but her polling numbers would have gone up and down as they do for anyone in public life.
Rest in Peace Diana.