Inner Michael » Remembering Diana

Remembering Diana

I always thought the moniker “Lady Di” was a bit disrespectful. As it sprang from the tongue, it always felt a little too flippant or familiar for a royal; too intimate for someone admired at a distance but not an intimate friend. But that is how people saw her… the “people’s princess” was a friend not just to her subjects, but to the world. We lost Diana 15 years ago today.

I remember when she died the Queen Mother was roundly criticized for being so stoic and aloof regarding Diana’s death. The whole world was weeping and the collective wail that arose in the chest and escaped the collective voice of humanity may have been silent but it was heard ’round the globe. Even to this day, when you say the name “Diana,” few people are puzzled by who that refers to. She always seemed to me, to deserve a name with the same glitter as her crown. After her passing, she was called “the Queen of Hearts. And if ever there was a Queen of Hearts who stole, captured and collected the hearts of millions, Diana was that thief.

A story today in the media is tried to change the narrative about the “respect” shown to royalty by their ranks. Kate Middleton is constantly pursued by cameras and paparazzi chased Pippa earlier this year while the tabloids attempted to demonize her. The royal family sent their attorneys to the media. The press is saying today that the mood has changed and that the rabid press and paparazzi are no longer invasive or crude and give the royals space and a modicum of dignity. Please! We are not fooled.

We, at Voices Education Project remembered Diana by dedicating the “Words and Violence” program to her and to Michael Jackson– the two most prolific humanitarians this world has ever seen and the two most bullied people in the world.


“The Princess and the Toads- A Fairy Tale”
(by Rev. B. Kaufmann, reprinted by permission from Voices Education Project “Words and Violence” Program)

She lay crumpled and dying in the space behind the front seat of the smoking car, her beautiful face still intact, her injuries hidden, but fatal. Smoke streamed from the wreckage, as undetected, the mangled artery leaked her life force as it began to ebb away. Was there a fleeting moment of awareness as she thought of her young sons, her charmed life, of love lost and dreams delayed? Dazed, she looked around trying to comprehend what had happened. Did she know? She saw the tabloid paparazzi around her and managed to say “leave me alone.” Those were her last words. We are left with one question: Why? Why Diana and why that way? A Camelot story, a Fairy Tale Princess, a queen who collected hearts. How could she die in a senseless car crash in a dark Paris tunnel?

Diana was first the peoples’ princess and then their queen of hearts. Lovely, with an acceptable family name and pedigree approved by the royal family, she was a natural choice for Charles, heir to the throne of Britain. Theirs seemed like a fairy tale love story, he the eligible bachelor and future king and she, the demure and shy school girl who met and fell in love with her “prince charming.”

The royal and opulent wedding was broadcast live on television as hundreds of millions of viewers virtually joined the royals and guests at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. The monarchy, which had settled into an attic dust familiarity with its subjects suddenly found new life, new interest and popularity thanks to Diana who entered fresh faced, shy, charming and restless.

The fairy tale image persisted for awhile as the press respectfully reported news about the couple. A trend soon began though as the press focused more on Diana than the prince. Her every move was reported and the fashion world adopted her as an icon; the kingdom, it seemed, embraced her. Charles made official visits and gave speeches as his role dictated but the press often ignored him in favor of his newsworthy and fashionable bride. The glare of the media and its obvious bias caused problems for the couple.

The media hounded them giving them barely a moment to themselves and little privacy. Diana, unused to the attention tried to cope the best she could but felt unsupported by her mate, who was jealous of the coverage she garnered. The more media attention that focused on her, the more isolated she became and she was later to say, the farther the fall from grace.

 Her pregnancy captured the imagination and attention of Brits as they navigated it with her. The pregnancy was difficult and she contracted post-partum depression afterward. Although a common ailment among new mothers, the tabloids picked up the story of “depression” and ran with it. The tabloids exposed her as depressed and unbalanced as they painted her as a daft and ungrounded young woman.

About the same time, she began her battle with Bulimia and self-injury which provides relief from isolation, self loathing, numbness, and feelings of low self esteem. She later explained that all the self defeating behavior was from feeling inadequate to cope with the intensity and demands of her role in the spotlight, and because she was not given time to acclimate to her life as it turned upside down with one act—that of marriage.

Almost overnight she became the most photographed, hunted and interesting figure in modern society and not just in her own country, but around the world. She had no time to define herself or her direction. Her life felt like a foreign country to her. She didn’t understand the interest and frenzy that swirled around her and she felt her connection to her husband was slipping away because of his unhappiness about her popularity, the stiffness and disapproval of the royal family and her inability to handle the pressures of her position.

As their romance cooled, Charles turned to an old flame and rekindled their relationship. Diana sensed this change in her husband and knew the reason. She was devastated and went deeper into her isolation and despair. The tabloids exploited her circumstances and people bought the tabloids. Diana took to reading them to find out how she was being portrayed in the public eye.

As she learned more about how to navigate her life and its complexities, she felt she had to become adept at courting the media and playing the game of trying to craft and manipulate her own image. She had to get cozy with the tabloid editors in order to manage her own public image and her children’s image. The press was relentless in their pursuit of salacious tidbits of her life. She curried favor with the gutter press often to promote the new and ongoing charity work she was engaged in.

She had, at one time, made a self deprecating comment to a little girl during a photo op saying that she (Diana) was “thick as a plank,” a remark designed to put the child at ease. The tabloids picked it up and forever after painted her as mentally a bit thick, ditsy and unbalanced. She regretted making the remark to the little girl as that comment followed her and colored every feature story that appeared from then on.

The lead characters in the royal marriage that turned out to be anything but fairy tale, were ill suited and their romantic relationship began first turning cool, and then started to unravel. That seemed to signal open season to the tabloids that hunted and hounded Diana as one of the world’s most famous and beloved women only to excoriate and ridicule her in the press.

Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales was a shy and timid beauty when she married Prince Charles but in a few years, had become a sophisticated champion of causes and an admired fashion icon. Diana, the most photographed woman in the world, learned how to leverage her fame and popularity and bend it to her will. Had she lived in another era, she might have been a subject for poets and playwrights but in the modern age, she became a tabloid princess surrounded by not by frogs who were gentlemen-in-disguise, but toads who carried poison ink.

Unused to being in the spotlight, Diana found it hard to cope with the frenzy that followed her and recorded her every move. She and Charles rarely found themselves alone and she icily reminded him of that during a family vacation, was overheard by a tabloid reporter and the Charles and Diana tabloid war began in earnest.

Diana’s first taste of the glare of paparazzi flashbulbs had come when a photographer caught her pose with her skirt backlit from the sun. She was wearing leggings but that did not hide her shapely figure which landed on the front pages of Britain’s gutter press. Her majesty was not pleased and their frosty relationship continued as the tabloids targeted both Diana and Charles and the royal mortification became impassible. It wasn’t until after her death and people all over the world mourned her loss in the streets, that the queen understood that she had captured hearts across the globe. She then agreed to fly the flag at half staff and to join the mourners in a proper funeral for a beloved public figure.

The tabloid industry then was beginning to be dominated by Rupert Murdoch, media magnate who bought up newspapers round the world to build a yellow journalistic empire. Murdoch saw Charles’ return from service in the military and bachelorhood as an exploitable situation, saw the royal family as public property and said, ‘We want to be the first to tell the British public who Prince Charles is going to marry.’ Murdoch wanted his British paper The Sun to be different, upbeat, rebellious and a little bit naughty. He patterned his paper after the Daily Mirror who taunted the royals and chided their members publicly.

Diana cited the tabloid press as guilty of contributing to the demise of her marriage. She and Charles were quite literally never alone; she was perpetually stalked by paparazzi and gutter press. Often a drawback of the curtains revealed perhaps 20 media vans or more at any given time outside their residence. Even their marriage itself was conscripted by the tabloids who reported so much about Diana and Charles that the press felt they had license to ask on their front pages if Charles was going to marry her. The wedding came about when Charles had no answer for them because he had no reason to not marry the young woman. The newspapers chose Charles’ mate for him and since there was no reason to dispute them, he agreed.

Rupert Murdoch, being colonial, didn’t want to kowtow to the Royal Family so his instructions through the Editor Kevin McKenzie, were: ‘look, stop worshipping these people, stop treating them as gods. They’re ordinary human beings and they will help sell newspapers. Let’s go out there and get the real stories.’ The competition between Royal Correspondents in those days was ferocious, absolutely savage. The pressure was unbearable at times because if a rival broke a new story about Charles and Diana, a reporter somewhere got a late night phone call with orders to find a story to match or surpass it and it had better be sensational. McKenzie would never hold back on a story. He wasn’t ruffled if the story was never checked out. He didn’t care if feelings were trampled, or if the story had only one source and was uncorroborated or if the story harmed reputations. He was considered reckless and cruel by colleagues. His philosophy: he had to fill pages, he wanted stories about royals that were sensational and he didn’t care it if wasn’t true.

Private Eye was the United Kingdom’s number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine that used humor, satire, social and political observations and investigative journalism to publish the magazine read by more than 700,000 Brits. Its editor Ian Hislop, was the most sued man in English legal history and he reigned during the Charles and Diana royal era. Private Eye is still published and popular today and still investigates and exposes subjects caught in the sights of its lenses. Richard Ingrams, Editor of Private Eye is known for his particularly caustic brand of journalism as he targeted Jewish writers and the pro-Israel Jewish lobby, homosexuals and Tony Blair supporters during his tenure from 1963 to 1986.

After Diana’s marriage was over the press continued to stalk her looking for the latest sensational story. Her attempts at having relationships with other men made headlines all over the tabloids of the world and bled into the regular press. The appetite for Diana news looked insatiable. The decoy tactics to avoid press were employed regularly as getaway routes changed last minute. One of those decoy tactics and unscheduled routes ended in an early grave for Lady Di. The official investigation cited the driver’s intoxication as the cause but a parallel later investigation found the paparazzi culpable.

 Tabloid Editors Admit Culpability

The editors of the three biggest selling tabloid newspapers at the time of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales had disclosed for the first time their own share of guilt over the accident that killed her.

(Read complete story at Voices: )

“The editors of The Sun, Daily Mirror and News of the World have conceded that they had helped create an atmosphere in which the paparazzi, who were chasing Diana when her car crashed in a Paris underpass, were out of control.

Phil Hall, who was editor of the News of the World, said it was a circle of culpability involving the readers who demanded more photographs, the photographers who chased her and the newspapers that published the pictures. “A big Diana story could add 150,000 sales. So we were all responsible,” he said.

Mr. Hall, speaking on the ITV1 documentary Diana’s Last Summer, said: “I felt huge responsibility for what happened and I think everyone in the media did. If the paparazzi hadn’t been following her the car wouldn’t have been speeding and, you know, the accident may never have happened.”

 The Sunday Mirror bought the paparazzi pictures, published three weeks before the princess’s death, which first showed the seriousness of her liaison with Dodi Fayed and encouraged the Paris chase.

Stuart Higgins, who edited The Sun, told The Daily Telegraph: “The death of Princess Diana was the most tragic story during my period as editor. I have often questioned my role, the paper’s role and the media’s role generally in her death and the events leading up to it. The tabloids created a frenzy and appetite around Diana.”

They agreed to not publish the photographs of her taken as she lay dying in the car.

In the period following her death that remorse caused them to admit their complicity and their responsibility in her death but that remorse was and has been short lived.

During the heyday of Princess, and then Lady Diana, Harry Arnold, royal reporter for The Sun from 1976 to 1990 was in charge of getting the latest scoops on Charles and Diana for The Sun said in an interview with PBS Frontline:

“It was the advent of Private Eye which people overlooked that I think was very influential. Private Eye was in a sense saying things about people that nobody else was saying and I’ve always accepted – and Richard Ingrams I know agrees with me – that Private Eye was a big factor in getting newspapers not to be more intrusive but to be more candid if you like about people.”

Arnold continues: “I think that probably we have passed a point of good manners. I think intrusion has gone too far. I don’t believe there can be a law on privacy for the Royal Family or anybody else because I don’t think it’s workable. Where I think the weakness is the failure of respected proprietors, not all of whom as I say are British citizens, the failure of proprietors and editors to set a standard for their own newspaper.”

Lady Diana, queen of hearts and global humanitarian might agree; a lack of good manners cost her a great deal of suffering during her lifetime and finally, in one dark moment in tabloid history, her life.

Discussion Questions

Great Britain does not have a First Amendment as Americans do but they do have codes of ethics. The codes request fair and respectful representation of media subjects. Check the following page for sources of Ethics Codes. Do you think these guidelines were/are followed? Should there be a “first amendment” philosophy of journalism around the world?

What is your personal definition of fair? Do you feel the press was fair to Diana? Why or why not?  What do you believe is fair in journalism?

Should the royals be treated differently in the press? Why or why not?
Do you believe that the tabloids did harm to Diana? Do you believe they were responsible for her death? Why or why not?  Do you believe the paparazzi have responsibility in Diana’s death?  How?  Why?

Could this car crash have been prevented? How or why?
Is there a need to change the standards governing media, paparazzi and stories in the press?
Do you believe the media affected this couple? The marriage? How?
Do you personally want to know the details of the personal lives of the famous or celebrities? Why or why not? Do you believe you have a right to know the intimate details of public figures?
Do you believe the media is humane? Do you believe it should be? Would you suggest changes? What changes?
Diana’s death ended all her humanitarian work around the planet. Does that constitute a loss to humanity? How? How does one measure that loss?
If you had the power to make the rules for how journalists and journalism are to behave, what guidelines would you draft? Confer in groups and make a list of guidelines.
As a consumer of the media, do you believe you share the guilt if someone is harmed? As a consumer do you have responsibilities? If so, please list them.


The Princess and the Press: Frontline Published Interviews with reporters speaking about Lady Diana:

Harry Arnold was royal reporter for The Sun, 1976-1990. He and his partner, photographer Arthur Edwards, were charged with getting the latest scoops on Charles and Diana.

Lord W. F. Deedes was editor of the Daily Telegraph (1974-1986) Former Editor and Currently a columnist for the paper.

Arthur Edwards: royal photographer for The Sun teamed up with The Sun’s royal reporter, Harry Arnold. They were responsible for covering Princess Diana and the Royal Family.

Roy Greenslade was editor of The Daily Mirror, 1990-1991 and assistant editor at The Sun for six years.

Glenn Harvey: Freelance photographer who covered Princess Diana.

Max Hastings: Was editor of The Daily Telegraph, 1986-1995.

Anthony Holden: Author of two books on Prince Charles.

Simon Jenkins: Former Editor of The Times, 1990-1992.

Ken Lennox: Former Royal photographer for The Daily Mirror, 1986-1994.

Andrew Morton: Royal reporter who has written several books on the Royal Family, including Diana: Her True Story, on which Princess Diana secretly collaborated.

Richard Stott: Former Editor of The Daily Mirror, 1991-1992.

James Whitaker: Reported on the Royal Family since the 1960s. He is The Daily Mirror’s royal reporter.

Sir Peregrine Worsthorne: Columnist for The Sunday Telegraph.

Friedman, Roger. Comments quoted from an Interview with Fox News

BBC Panorama Interview Martin Bashir 1995
British Public Broadcasting Company
Harry Arnold PBS Frontline Interview
American Public Broadcasting Company Documentary Films
Private Eye British Magazine
British Newspaper and Online Journal

David Rowan, Editor Wired UK, Interview with Richard Ingrams, Blog 2005
British Online Journal Magazine
Diana: Editors Admit Guilt over Death by Andrew Pierce Published: 21 Aug 2007
British Newspaper and Online Journal

Text for the article, Discussion Questions and Bibliography were written and prepared by: Reverend Barbara Kaufmann



  1. Janet - UK said . . .

    Dear Barbara,

    This day brings another sad anniversary, the death of a Princess who campaigned for many things that were close to her heart and with her passing changed for the better, the way that the Royal family view us and, the way we view them. Unfortunately the media still have not learnt any lessons from the past, as can be seen from recent stories surrounding Prince Harry and the Las Vegas photos. Although widely available on the internet, the UK press did not publish them with the exception of The Sun, that quoted the usual ‘freedom of the press’ excuse. I feel that this ‘exception’ had more to do with Rupert Murdoch and his need for power than any respect he may have had for freedom of speech or freedom of another human beings right to a private life. In-fact one of his ex journalists (Paul McMullan) from The News of the World said on a recent TV programme that “we need sleaze to pay for investigative journalism.” Some excuse !

    The UK press have a code of ethics but they are not worth the paper they are written on. Comments written on articles sometimes aren’t published because they breach one of their rules (i.e, if its too sensible or you dare to even hint at criticizing the media it doesn’t appear.)

    The Press Complaints Commission in the UK is not currently effective and will be replaced some time in the future; maybe this is where the public could make suggestions on future guidelines for press complaints. Sorry I have not answered all of your discussion questions here as there is much to think about, but I certainly do not feel I have a right to know details of anyones personal life famous or not. Sadly some people make their living by selling their souls and until we change that culture through education and example the spiral continues downward. Much has been said recently on the uplifting effect of the Olympic and Paralympic games lets hope the effect of human togetherness doesn’t fade too soon.

    Posted August 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks, Janet. I edited some of your comment because writing to the media and going to comment on articles DOES work– lots of times. There are those unscupulous outlets that won’t publish any negative comments, but that doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t see them behind the scenes and check which way the wind is blowing. Minds and hearts have been changed through education and enlightenment about who Michael Jackson really was– and with direct challenges to commenters who are just spewing tabloid content because they were conditioned to believe media. The media constantly is “taking the pulse” of public sentiment. They track trends. They gather statistics and it influences their programming and content. If enough people are saying the same thing and demanding decency, they will want to and have to listen. Non-violent direct action worked for Martin Luther King, for Gandhi, for Desmond Tutu, for Nelson Mandela,, and many, many more whose names are not so recognizable.

    The dilligence of Michael fans and vindication efforts by a whole lotta people has made a huge difference in public sentiment now that many know the truth. The vibe now is NOT the same as when he died. Some day it will be known that the “tragic” part of the Michael Jackson story does not belong to him but to what was done to him and those who did it.

    When we get in trouble with our own credibility is when we use their same tactics and we assume, don’t research or examine something for the truth, when we slam celebrities or make public enemies of them and get all over social media being vile and bullying with comments. People learn when they are able to listen. Name calling and nasty words to not reach hearts. Fans were asking me for suggestions on how to combat the trash that is published about all things Michael for their sadness and anger is real about a man who was undeservedly trashed by a rabid media on steroids. But a couple of weeks ago, those very people went after Michael’s family with a vengeance and Kristin Stewart (read Jodie Foster’s article) and effectively took the air out of any argument or demand for decency in media or the public airwaves. Many made unexamined assumptions about Michael’s family– that same meme fueled previously by the media (“The Jackson family are greedy and only want money”) when there was no mention of funds, money, or finances in a first draft letter that was intended to be private but was conveniently “leaked.” They were criticizing managment of the estate, not the distribution of funds– there are no funds for them in the will. Or in previous wills that are almost duplicates. What is sad about all that is that everyone “assumed” they had the scoop and they didn’t. Nobody can say for sure what the Jacksons totally feel or think unless they put something in writing. Nobody can know for sure what the estate feels or thinks– except when they put something in writing. Their agendas are not the same. But the media frenzy nullifying a family, and particularly a black family is an insult to a huge segment of the population who have dealt with some form of nullification all their lives. It’s an insult to the body of work the Jacksons produced, and it is an insult to Michael who loved his family despite all their warts. And it is an insult to fans who have had to deal with everything from bullying to a proposed mock autopsy.

    Michael Jackson was once 21 years old. He was filled with excitement and talent and the drive to make music. He was a young artist bursting to give the world his gift. We need to keep his story in mind. Kristen Stewart is 21 years old in an industry that eats people for breakfast, calls them has-beens and “plastic people” when they pass 35 or have work done to keep their youthful appeal or change to stay relevant. If we think of our worst day in school being bullied and how that felt, then imagine that times a million and it’s a wonder artists show up for life at all. And some day they may not.

    Jodie Foster is saying that if she were a young actress, tender and sensitive and naive to the ways of Hollywood, popularity, fickle public opinion, and what tabloids can do to a real live human, and particularly now with social media’s immediate access, she would not pursue acting. Then we wouldn’t have “Contact” and “Silence of the Lambs” and all other kinds of films with a message. It might have even dissuaded Michael.

    Diana was literally hounded to death. That is what we need to remember. And we need to act on and with our conscience. And we need to “start with the ‘Man in The Mirror’ and change those ways. Peace begins with me. It begins especially when I get angry and want to jump to conclusions and get in there and mix it up (‘Beat It’ comes to mind.) It takes restraint and thinking and remembering Michael Jackson’s message “It’s all for love.” What happened to that anyway?

    Thanks for opening a dialogue, Janet. It’s one we need to have.

    Posted September 1, 2012 at 12:48 am | Permalink
  3. Janet - UK said . . .

    Thanks for your reply – I hope over the past months that I have learnt from your posts how to engage with the media even if my comments do not always see the light of day. My standard opening lines to whatever human ‘story’ whether it be about Michael Jackson, Prince Harry etc., will always be “Its none of my business and anyway we don’t know because we were not there.”

    I know you feel frustration at the outbursts some people make; on occasions I can almost see your blood pressure rising when reading your words. But I sincerely hope that anyone who visits this site will have taken on board lessons not only about media issues but how to navigate through life with a bit more thought for how our actions impact on others.

    Posted September 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Thanks Janet, not just for your efforts but your empathy and maturity. That “blood pressure” thing is when shadow wants to get loose and take over, and the result of that is never pretty. We all have shadow sides to our ego and it requires observation to learn its characteristics. Shadow is about inner wounding and feeling unloved in an aspect of self. One of my wounds is the “misunderstood genius” whose motives are lofty but lives in a world that is cynical and mocking and not very enlightened. It’s a trigger for me, thus the “blood pressure” you sense.

    Resepecting self (which is one of Michael Jackson’s teachings) is tricky business where others are involved. It is quite a balancing act to hold people accountable and yet forgive them for their human-ness while recognizing that since they don’t love self, they are not able to love, admire, respect and revere others. When one can embrace both sides of a polarized issue, that’s mastery. I am still a work-in-progress.

    But I am learning. The last time I sat in Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar he said “Love does not mean being sweetie sweetie all the time” as he went on to explain that love is a balance between holding people to the standards of their inner light and when they betray themselves by dimming it, to call them out on it. Yes, the guru can get mad. Some days there is just no excusing behavior for the act of tearing someone down tears us all down for that person is a brother. And when your sister betrays her inner god-given inner brillaince (bright shadow) by bullying and behaving badly, you do her no favors by allowing it in your presence.

    We don’t have a lot of time to turn this around (you will recall Michael’s speech in “This Is It” where he says the doorway to change is open now but that open time is limited. We are in the doorway. And there is no time to fool around. So, by not calling it what it is (SABOTAGE) when it’s nonsense and delaying our enlightenment as a race, I add to the delay. Then shame on me.

    The frustration you sense– is the polarization of humanity caught between the old way (that is not working anymore) and the new. It’s when we know better and we do it anyway. And in the doorway yet! The “caught between” place is not forward motion, it’s stagnancy, interruption. I’m like a child in the back seat who annoys everyone in the vehicle with the constant question: “Are we there yet?”

    I don’t know how Michael did it. I want you all to hurry up and come along. Now. “So,are we there yet?”

    Posted September 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  5. gertrude said . . .

    I’m with you on there being no time left to fool around. In fact I feel the fool-around time is long past and the pit of my stomach clenches right up when expected to participate in conversations about almost anything right now other than: “Is There A Prayer In Hell Of Saving The Environment And Us From Mass Extinction And If So What Is It?” – or how to advance the soul. This seems to leave me very few peeps to chat with (surprise!) – and yes I’m on the list of multiple organizations for change, and petition, write etc. frequently, but my occupation at the moment does not allow for me to physically find my tribe – so thank-you Internet Rev. B./Inner Michael!

    Posted September 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  6. Hibernia said . . .

    She was not wearing leggings that day, when she was photographed back-lit with two of the little girls from the kindergarten. Her bulimia began when she went to live in Buckingham Palace. Charles apparently teased her for being chubby when he put his arm around her waist. Her wedding dress had to be taken in as originally she was 30″ around the waist and it measured 23″ on her wedding day.

    Posted May 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

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