“I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am.”

– Princess Diana.

Princess Di, the British Royalty and Crown

Recently, I watched the Netflix series ‘Crown’, based on the Queen of England and her life so far. The new season introduced ‘Princess Diana’ and her image brought about a lot of memories from my early childhood. 

I remember being in India, miles away from where Princess Di lived her fairy-tale life, yet she impacted all our lives. I was 5 years of age when she met with the fatal accident in Paris. I saw my mother, aunt, and elder sister sobbing when they saw the news on India’s Doordarshan channel. My sister was so fond of the Princess that she had cut her hair like her. Famously known as the Diana cut, I had no clue why everyone was crying for a Princess. 

After watching Crown and a few other documentaries, I realized why and how the young Princess impacted lives. 

Why did women relate to Princess Diana?

Princess Diana was a young, naive, and beautiful girl before becoming a royal. She had the same problems growing up that most of us have. It was sad to watch her struggle to transition from an ordinary citizen of England to the nation’s Princess. She was alone throughout this transition. I don’t know about others, but there were a few instances from her life that I could relate with even after two decades of her tragic accident.

One particular instance that I instantly related to was shown in her documentary. They said that she grew up reading a lot of books, fiction, and romance genres. Her favorites were authored by her grandmother, Barabara Cartland, based on the passionate romance and dream-like fairy-tales. It is assumed that she expected her life to be like one of those passionate romances that she read. When she met the Prince, she thought her dream would come true.

Wasn’t Princess Diana as disappointed with real-life as some of us are, even today? 

I wished I could hug her when I watched her struggle alone. Loneliness had started to eat her from within. Something that a lot of us go through today. We live in the digital age, and yet we feel so alone at times. When she spent her time waiting for Prince Charles in the palace when Prince Charles was mentally with Camilla even though he was physically in her arms when she tried to connect with her new family but couldn’t when she was pregnant but still unhappy – in all those times nobody addressed her issues. Instead, everyone focused on keeping her marriage intact, not letting the mess come out in public, and taming her as much as possible. 

It has been twenty years to this story, but things haven’t changed much. Some women go through the pain and hurt, but they cannot talk about it. They suffer through loneliness, abuse, and torture silently because nobody wants to address the problems or solve the root cause. All everyone is focused on is to keep her relationships intact with the rest of the world.

Why is a Dysfunctional family still not a real issue?

As a mother, I thought she was doing one of the best jobs in the world. But, I also thought she was worried her children shouldn’t be growing up watching disturbances between her husband and herself. In the documentary, they said that her mother had left her at a very early age. She grew up to be a little quiet and kept her feelings to herself. It was also shown that she did not want her kids to grow away from her. ‘I am a mother first’ is something she always said and something that every woman could relate to

Dysfunctional families – that is what she did not want for her children. 
I don’t know exactly what to say to this. But, there is something about dysfunctional families that I am equally scared of. I am worried that my children would live through the same trauma of growing up amidst fighting couples, drunk fathers, and a poor household if I had them today… Can this stop? I think, yes. I just don’t know-how. Not producing kids is sure not a solution.

Do women need a set-back to understand their true potential and shine?

The best part of all the documentaries, the Netflix drama, and the news articles was when Prince Charles started to feel undermined by Princess Di’s popularity and charm. I imagine it happened something like this – She woke up one day. The Prince was not sleeping next to her. She could not find the missing love anyplace else.

Her children were too young to fill the emotional vacuum. None of her extended families had the time, energy, or the heart to listen to her. But, this morning, she looked at her work desk. It had tonnes of letters from people all around the world. These people knew not much about her, but they adored her. These people were from different sects, some going through horrors that were worse than their own. 

This was probably the moment when she dropped all the pretense and walked out of her home to meet the people as their Princess and not someone who the Royals brought in to keep Charles’ divorcee lover away.  I could feel her and empathize with her in many instances. As women, royal or not are used to undermining our open worth and dreams for people we think we are in love with or for responsibilities that we assume are more important than our own happiness. We all have one defining moment (or many!) to realize the atrocities we do to ourselves. And we say – Fuck You – to the world and start living our life as we wanted to.

I now understand why Princess Di was so famous even amongst my mother, her friends, and other ladies in the house. I get why all the women I knew cried when she died in 1997. 

She was nothing less than ‘Hope’ for her. I am sure my sister just did not want to look like her while she got a Diana haircut. She wanted to imbibe some of her qualities, like her honesty and attitude towards life – raw and straightforward. The way she embraced her inner wild child or the way she was grounded to her values – this is so difficult for even ordinary women of today who have actually achieved nothing in life so far. She actually saw all humans as equals living the same arduous journey called life, only with different struggles.

Is an icon like this missing today?
Hell, yes. 

I wish we had someone like Princess Di for women to look up to. She was damaged; she was flawed. But, she was a human being who was open to her flaws and yet ruled the hearts of millions. She is so much more than perfect Queens who are scared to show their vulnerabilities and have to manipulate their way through the crowd. 

Pictures from Various Sources.

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