Inquisitor

Sceptical libertarianism and opera

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Location: France

July 07, 2004

The Diana myth

An entertainingly provocative piece today by the ever-stimulating Stephen Pollard on the unveiling of the Diana fountain.

I rather fear that it might not prove as contentious as Mr Pollard hopes, however. I have a strong suspicion that the Diana hysteria of 1997 was something of a fiction. My own experience of the time bears this out. I had just returned to the UK after spending some seven years living abroad. The reaction of the British public, as depicted across the media, astounded and depressed me. True, I didn’t know anyone who had had what I saw as an abnormal emotional reaction to the death, nor did I know anyone who knew anyone who had. But I surmised that this was some exceptional coincidence.

By the time of the funeral, I felt a strong need to find some of my fellow countrymen who had succumbed to this madness. So I headed off to the Mall and got a prime position. In reassuringly British fashion, a jokey camaraderie soon got going amongst the crowd. I began to ask why people had come, and was amazed, shocked and mightily relieved to discover that all, yes all, the people around me had come for the same reason as me. They were all just intrigued by the phenomenon. Not one felt any personal sadness.

It was one of the most uplifting moments I have experienced. Britain had not gone mad. Parts of the media may have done, but all was well in the real world.

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