This newspaper, like other broadsheets, has a section on the ‘personals’ page for acknowledgements, where the family of a deceased person offer a public thank you to friends and colleagues for supporting them in their loss.
Some people like to have it printed a month after death; others a year, or on the person’s birthday, or make a donation to charity or have a Mass said. It’s a small ritual which signifies the end of the mourning period. It doesn’t mean any of the sadness has gone, but that life goes on.
We’ve been collectively mourning someone we didn’t even know for 20 years now. Is it time to let Diana, Princess of Wales, finally rest in peace?
Her sons think so.
In the spate of interviews and documentaries they gave this month on the BBC and ITV, and to some magazines, they made it clear it would be their last public comment on their mother – surely one of the world’s most famous and photographed women ever.
They chose as a permanent memorial a walled garden within Kensington Palace, rededicated in white flowers, along with the fountain and playground erected some years ago in her memory along the Serpentine river. It’s the royal equivalent of a notice in the paper.
In the broadcasts, William and Harry both spoke lovingly of their mother, who they lost at the age of 15 and 12 respectively, so they were tragically young. They were reserved and circumspect, but did give us new nuggets of information on a woman about whom we surely thought we knew everything at this stage.
But to them of course, she wasn’t a public figure, she was just mum. So, their insight was essential viewing for royal watchers to see if they could delve any deeper into the complex and conflicted personality that was Diana.
We saw a few private family photographs, not taken by newspapers. We heard about their ‘final’ phone call with her, although they omitted the exact words. We found out that she believed in very free parenting, to the point that she encouraged her kids to ‘get into trouble’, as long as they didn’t get caught. That she had completely enveloped them in love was apparent. You don’t fake that sentiment and Diana, whatever her flaws, was a wonderful, involved parent.