I’M not ashamed to admit I shed a tear while binge watching The Crown this week.
Maybe I’m particularly emotional at the moment because of this damned lockdown, but the scene that really got me was when Emma Corrin — so exceptional as a 19-year-old Princess Diana that I felt, at times, like I was watching a documentary — started ballet dancing at Buckingham Palace.
As she sashayed around a banquet hall alone, it felt like all the fear and pain of being a neglected teenager in an ice cold Royal Family was, for a brief moment, physically stripped away.
I know Diana’s story inside out, but seeing it presented on screen this powerfully by Netflix still managed to shock and amaze.
I’ll admit from the off, I am an ardent Diana supporter. Her death when I was a 14-year-old gay teen in the closet growing up in New Zealand had a huge impact on me.
Even today, I don’t think any other celebrity, royal or politician in my life-time has come close to matching her status as a pop culture icon who we connected with on such a personal level.
Yup, I’m one of those strange mourners from 1997 who felt like I knew Diana and loved her too — and, 23 years on, I don’t want her legacy or truth railroaded over.
I was on a True Royalty TV show with her loyal butler Paul Burrell last week, who told me afterwards that he’s fallen out with many prominent royal reporters from the era who had sided with Di over Charles and Camilla before her death.
The Princess of Wales, he is certain, would never have forgiven them for switching sides and supporting the formal role of The Duchess of Cornwall, who is now destined to become Queen.
Sources close to Charles have briefed some of those correspondents over the past few days, suggesting that Netflix is “trolling” him on a Hollywood budget thanks to his depiction in the show as an uncaring philanderer who drove Di to bulimia. But that’s as ridiculous as claiming The Queen Mother was a warm and caring figure who welcomed Di into the Royal Family with open arms.
Before you start the lecture, I understand The Crown is a fictionalised version of events, but it gets the thrust of what happened right.
The vast majority of the storylines involving Princess Diana are based on her own words to Andrew Morton.
In fact, in many ways, Charles got off easy.
The scriptwriters, for example, didn’t include the moment a week after the engagement when Charles put his hand on Diana’s waistline and said: “Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?” Or the aftermath of Prince Harry’s birth where Charles’s first words to Di were: “Oh God, it’s a boy. And he’s even got red hair.”
They also left out the couple’s honeymoon where Diana was mortified when Charles — who wore cufflinks from Camilla of two intertwined Cs to represent their names — opened his diary and two pictures of his mistress fell out.
Not surprisingly, a fragile Diana had constant nightmares about Camilla on that trip.
Scriptwriters ignored too the moment when Diana threw herself down the stairs at Sandringham while pregnant with William after Charles told his crying wife: “I’m not going to listen. You’re always doing this to me. I’m going riding now.”
Was Diana perfect? Of course not. But she was 16 and a virgin when she first met Charles, 19 when she became engaged and 20 when she was married.
She believed in love and being faithful.
Charles made it publicly clear as early as his toe-curling engagement interview — “Whatever ‘in love’ means!” — that he didn’t feel the same way.
Much of the tension between Charles and his two sons William and Harry has been spawned by the treatment of their mother and his lack of commitment to a stable family life.
It might not be comfortable, but Netflix is doing its duty by refusing to whitewash the nightmare that was the “fairytale” marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Di.
Second lockdown is broken
CAST your mind back to March when lockdowns were a novelty imported from totalitarian China.
Our Government’s early reluctance to impose one was based on behavioural scientists warning that freedom-loving Brits would only take so much of being told to stay in our homes.
They were wrong, initially at least. With an effective stay-at-home propaganda campaign, backed by a scaremongering BBC, we were prepared to hunker down for far longer than expected in order to “protect the NHS”.
But, finally, in November, the resistance has begun.
Brits are fighting back, sensibly and quietly, by making decisions that protect our health and wealth without following every ludicrous rule to a tee.
The pubs and shops might be shut, but this time around the streets are not dead and life has not ground to a halt.
Let’s be honest, this has been a lame-duck lockdown. It is ripping the heart and soul out of our country without doing any good.
It must never, ever be repeated.
Psychological destruction of lockdown
I WAS touched to receive an email from Ann Allison, responding to my column last week talking of the death of my Great Aunty Cecilia, who had been unable to see her family in her final three months in a care home in Lancashire.
With Ann’s permission, I share her powerful words that I hope will make our leaders wake up to the current horror restrictions causing so much psychological destruction.
Ann wrote: “I loved my dad. We spoke every day. When lockdown started he was so incredibly lonely. I covered myself in anti-bac, wore gloves and a mask to go to his house.
“I couldn’t stand it any longer. He was so sad, he just lay on the bed all the time. When I left he held his arms out for a hug and I said, ‘Dad I can’t’.
“I wish I had, as he tried to take his own life the day after, was admitted to hospital, got Covid, and had three weeks of terror before dying alone.
“I cannot accept my poor dad had to go this way.”
We must stop the unconscionable cruelty of physically cutting off our vulnerable senior citizens from the ones they love.
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