I have just finished watching a brilliant film called “Spencer” and it has prompted me to write about this much loved “People’s Princess.” No wonder the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has chosen Ms Kristen Stewart as a nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Bravo! We who r American used to adore the Princess and liken it to a fairy tale life, to be swept up into the arms of the man who would be King someday, Prince Charles. And she had it all, we imagined: the breeding, the exceptional beauty, excellent figure, to have captured the Prince’s fancy! Ahhh, but all that glitters is not gold, as we have observed. We have familiarized ourselves w the damned tabloids, and the paparazzi, even unto death, death in a limousine, by a drunken chauffeur, chased even then in Paris, to her death at a tender age of 36 years…
But Spencer does not deal w the later years. It is a study of a short period when William was about 12 years old as the elder son. And Harry is there too, 2 years younger, and Diana is unraveling in front of the royal family, and the servants r spreading how the Princess is going insane, w self-abuse, including self-cutting, the bulimia, the moods, even looking at horrible dreams, of the past, of Anne Boleyn, contemplating suicide, hatred of the wretchedness of being unwanted, and knowing her husband is getting away w the affair of his heart, while still married to her. It is a veritable destruction of the self, as barbed wires get cut, in a kind of escape to a home she used to have…now boarded up, uninhabited, w a rat the only live thing within. Comparing oneself to a pheasant, so pretty w its feathers, about to be served up as dinner! This is the Diana we see in the film, and it is stark, and melancholy. We can imagine being in a gilded cage, waiting to be guillotined by the rules, the schedules, the unholy monotony of it all, and never an escape!
I think that this performance is worthy of the Oscar, but I have yet to see Penelope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers.” I am reminded of this lousy trait we tend to have, and dislike in ourselves for having it: schadenfreude, which is a joy we get in seeing other people suffer some fate that we begrudge them. As if we r all envious of he who gets things that we cannot. So we want to see them suffer in their situation. No one is entitled to everything after all! And the royal life is wholly apart from any life we live, that is certain. All that art, crowns, servants, Rolls Royces, wheel on the right, fabulous couture, even gigantic pearls upon that dainty neck, so beautiful, rare and yet despised all the same, because Charles gave it to Camilla as well as Diana. At the same time! As if mocking her.
Royal watchers: be sure to eat up this film, as it’s a gobsmacked dessert of rarest fillings and fluff. And u may have a side of schadenfreude w it too, one lump or two. I miss her too, the real Princess. Signed her book placed in Harrod’s at some point after she died, w my condolences to the Royals for their loss. There is a lovely garden in her memory in Hyde Park, London. We visited that too, me and 2 friends, all Americans visiting London, a favorite city. I found myself thinking of Prince Harry, w Meghan his American wife, living in the USA now, w their 2 children, and imagining it is very hard to be Prince Harry, looking at this film, which tho fictional, uses elements from Diana’s life as it actually was, and finding it painful to dissect the trap Diana found herself in, to be tied to basically no one except her sons, and a fired but rehired servant, and they all clamp down on her, like a rat in a trap actually, dour faces w disapproval coming in waves of torment…I feel for Harry. He lives in this country now, and it does differ greatly from the life he had before. And he must find a way to reconcile the history w the truth.
He will not let Meghan suffer the fate that almost befell Diana, from which there was no real escape at one point, but perhaps suicide. May the Princess rest in peace and her descendants find a way to exist within the confines of that gilded cage. And the song by the Boomtown Rats is playing in the background, very apt for this movie, tho not in it: “I Don’t Like Mondays.”