The tragedy of the Princess of Wales

Hannah Adams, Assistant Opinion Editor

The death of the beloved Princess Diana was a tragedy that struck the entire world. The brutality of her passing still haunts history even today as those who witnessed the announcement of the accident still have vivid memories of that awful broadcast. People continue to miss her and the immense effort she put into trying to make a difference in the monarchy. Diana was a light to so many, offering herself as a genuine and compassionate presence to the people, working to make an honest change. 

Even before her passing, there were many unsettling details of Diana’s relationship with the other royals. From the rumors of the Queen’s disapproval to the blatant affair that Prince Charles engaged in with his now wife, Camilla, history seems to make it clear that Diana went through extreme emotional turmoil as the princess. It seems that Princess Diana gave all of herself to fulfill a role that ultimately destroyed her. She loved her children above all and publicly displayed many examples of being a loving and attentive mother to her boys, despite her failing marriage. While there will never be a true way to know exactly what Diana was going through at the time, many films and on-screen adaptations have given their best efforts to portray the hardships of her life. 

A recent film called Spencer, tells the story of Princess Diana spending Christmas with the royals while staying at Sandringham estate. It goes through her battles with bulimia and depression while she simultaneously feels the pressures of the royal family’s expectations weighing down on her. The film also explores her tender relationship with her sons as well as the tense and almost bizarre relationship with her then-husband, Prince Charles. Movie blogger, Mary Lou Driedger, expressed her feelings that the film portrayed Diana as a “tortured soul” and showed her presenting worrying behaviors. This film depicted its story based on Diana’s statements in the famous audio tapes released in 1991, exposing her issues with the royals and confessing to her mental health struggles. 

 “The only bright spot in Diana’s life is her sons and the film does portray her as a caring and concerned parent, although one wonders if her sons weren’t troubled by their mother’s erratic behavior,” Driedger said. “The boys do express worry about her unhappiness in the film. I hope they don’t watch this movie about their mother.”

It is curious the aspects of Diana’s life that caused her so much unhappiness and depression after becoming the Princess of Wales. I think the true villain of this story is none other than her cheating husband, the now King Charles. In the article “This is What Really Happened Between Prince Charles and Princess Diana” writer Hana Hong explains some of the details of the king’s well-known affair with Camilla and the ultimate divorce of the royal couple. 

“It wasn’t until 1994 that Prince Charles admitted to his adultery with Camilla for the first time,” Hong said. “Princess Diana famously stated, ‘There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.’ The two royals filed for divorce in 1996. Diana died a year later.”

The article also provided some insight into Diana’s struggles with bulimia as well as some of the causes for her struggle. 

 “According to Diana, the stress induced by their failing marriage is what instigated her eating disorder, which she said began after they got engaged,” Hong said. “According to the book, Diana reports, ‘My husband put his hand on my waistline and said: ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ and that triggered off something in me.’”

The cutting words of her husband left deep wounds in the princess and triggered her to take drastic measures to try and satisfy his unfair expectations. To me, it seems Charles was cruel to his wife by instilling insecurities and pain in her. I would venture that he most likely deflected his adulterous behaviors as well with excuses and blame on his wife. All because Diana was not Camilla. Charles put Diana through the public humiliation of an unabashed admittance of his love for Camilla and still did not have the decency to be kind to her behind the scenes. It is a shame that a man like this even has the opportunity to reign as king of the United Kingdom. 

As said before, there is no way to know to intimate details of the unraveling of Diana and Charles’s marriage. It is hard to pass judgment on those we do not know. But there is proof enough in her statements and the media coverage to draw some general conclusions about the pain Princess Diana endured while living within the monarchy. In Diana’s famous audio tapes, she admits to her issues while also shedding light on her marriage. She even went so far as to describe her thoughts of committing suicide. Vogue magazine released an article called Princess Diana’s Most Riveting and Revealing Quotes in Diana: In Her Own Words, by Elise Taylor, that displays some of the most heart-wrenching citations from Diana. The quotes within this article were portrayed in the National Geographic documentary Diana: In Her Own Words. Perhaps the darkest confession from Diana known to date is when she confessed to having harmed herself during her pregnancy with Prince William. 

“I threw myself down the stairs. Charles said I was crying wolf, and I said I just felt so desperate, and I was crying my eyes out. And he said, ‘I’m not going to listen, you are always doing this to me, I’m going riding now.’ So, I threw myself down the stairs. Bearing in my mind I was carrying a child.” 

At another time, she admitted to confronting Camilla about the affair. 

“I said, ‘Camilla, I’d just like you to know that I know exactly what’s going on.’ And she said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And I said, ‘I know what’s going on between you and Charles, and I just want you to know that . . .. Don’t treat me like an idiot.’”

To me, the most chilling thing Diana ever said on record is when she described herself as, “a lamb to the slaughter.” The most heartbreaking part to me is that she was such a shattered soul but still tried to be a moral leader and represent goodness to the people. She did copious amounts of volunteer work such as working with HIV and AIDS support and acting as the patron or president of over 100 charities. Despite living in so much misery, she gave her entire heart to those less fortunate than herself. The day the Princess of Wales was taken from the world a beautiful light was lost and a role left empty seeming impossible to fill again.