The Fairy Tale is Over – A (Long) Diatribe

               So at
long last there was another royal wedding. 
I wrote this before the actual wedding, so it may seem a little dated,
but I still think it is relevant.  (Yes,
I know Charles remarried a few years back, but no one cared about that embarrassing
affair, and this wedding is not the same.)
               Princess
Catherine (Kate Middleton) is no Princess Diana.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.  She’s 28, as opposed to Diana’s age of 19
when she got married- the new princess is college-educated, and apparently has
worked as a buyer.  Opposing Di’s
nannying and no education.  Catherine comes
from an intact family of basically commoners while Diana was a Lady who
effectively was raised by her father, her mother having abandoned her at a
young age. 
               Kate,
having dated Prince William for eight years and weathered more than one
break-up and his “partying,” does not seem to be either the babe-in-the-woods
or the emotional basket case Diana appeared to be.  Of course, look who Kate got, compared to
Charles!
               William
and Kate are the same age, went to the same school, know each other well.  She seems very self-possessed, not too camera
shy or frightened, SO she probably will fight right in with the royal family.
               But she’s
no Diana, because she doesn’t appear to have the faults that Di had that
endeared her to the public- the “people’s princess.”  Diana’s faults seemed understandable—forgivable.  She, on the one hand was gorgeous,
fashionable, tall and magnificent.  She
just could never fit in with the family. 
Even with all her money, beauty and all that, people sympathized with
her.  She was in a loveless marriage with
Charles cheating, she supposedly had a borderline personality and was
bulimic.  You could feel her sadness; it
was read.
               Her
empathy with victims, orphans, AIDs patients, etc. may have just been because
of the charities she had to do out of duty. 
But so did Charles, and the rest of the family, have those obligations,
yet Diana seemed like one of them, the real, suffering people, not like a
patronizing royal.
               She
desperately wanted a normal life she could never have- a real marriage, for one
thing, which Charles nixed.  Sure, she
was no intellectual heavyweight, but Charles knew that beforehand (not that he
is Einstein either).  Apparently her
beauty was too much for Charles and didn’t keep him from hideous Camilla
Parker-Bowles.
               People
got it — Diana was spurned by a man who was lucky to even have her—she was way
too beautiful, too popular- he, showing his complete insecurity and dominance
by his mother, couldn’t stand to be upstaged by Diana.  They wanted her, not him.  He fancies himself serious, intelligent, and
made her out to be an hysterical woman, while cheating on her.  He simply could not handle her.
               Even
though she was fragile, given to irrational behavior and emotional problems
apparently- and selfish, as they all are, she had an openness and vulnerability
that made people want to be in her presence- to care, to sympathize, just as
she did with those who suffered.  That
empathy cannot be faked, and she had it. 
A good heart.  It may not seem
like much but a princess’ visit in the hospital ward was enough to brighten
many people’s lives!
               It seems
like, from over here at least, that the mystery, the thrill, is gone.  Granted, the tabloids left little of it a
mystery anyway- but Diana had an aura, an allure that made people want to know
what made her tick.  Although we hear
little to nothing here in the U.S. about Camilla, there’s no mystery there, or
rather, no one wants to know – her charisma is lacking, she seems tough as
nails, she’s not attractive, and she stole Charles. 
               Although
no Camilla, (which would be hard), Kate Middleton is not in Di’s league.  She seems rather plain Jane, she will not be
a fashion trend-setter, and she is pretty but not glamorous.  The fairy tale is not here, there is no ingénue-
she is an experienced adult, not the girl Diana who had to turn into an adult
in front of the entire world.  It remains
to be seen what Kate will do, but at least to me, she seems more like Camilla
(although better looking and a nice person).
               Because
she doesn’t have that mystery, that aura, that presence that we had in the “real”
princess.  She doesn’t look like she
needs a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear.  She doesn’t look like she needs
anything.  She doesn’t appear or present
herself as anything but capable, quite at ease, confident- loved.
               Since
she doesn’t need anything, are WE needed? 
Do we even need to care?  Is she
capable of empathy ?
               Diana’s
flaws were the kind that made her interesting – a phenomenon – someone with
genuine hurt- who felt it and could feel it in others.  The thousands of miles of class-nobility,
money, fame, beauty, that separated us – she crossed that span effortlessly –
by being herself.  She was human:  imperfect, hurting, desperate, rejected,
selfish, searching, making mistakes (big ones) – talking too much, she worked
the press while deriding it – but she learned to survive.  She was not a natural at being in the
spotlight.  Someone like her needed
approval, the approval of everyone including the public- and it was a horrible
task to have to always be liked or good enough.
               People
want to feel like they are needed – or have the capability of being able to
help.  Older women saw in Diana that she
wanted acceptance and unconditional love and approval – she showed it– and they
knew they could help and did.  Younger women
knew they could commiserate with Diana’s marriage break-down, her bulimia, her
self-esteem issues, her looking for a place to fit in- to have a security she couldn’t
find.
               Perhaps
her greatest charity was in presenting herself (whether consciously or not) –
being real – and allowing others to be that way too.  Maybe she could understand since she was as
vulnerable and insecure as many people. 
This didn’t take away from her glamour, it gave her authenticity.  Her charity was not patronizing, or smug and
condescending- but rather helping, because she knew what was felt.
               It wasn’t
her giving to the needy from a position of grandeur- rather it was her giving
because she needed THEM to give to HER. 
She affirmed the sick, the poor, the dying, etc. because she sought
affirmation herself.  She had something
to receive as well as to give- “sharing,”- she needed it too.
Can someone like Kate, so
self-assured, proper, seemingly unflustered- does she really FEEL?  That’s what Di did.  Since Diana felt, she could feel for others,
and that’s what WE felt.
Following in Di’s footsteps is no
small task any way you look at it.  But
it may be that that era – that seeming fairy tale- is over, not to be relived,
or forgotten.  
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