01/11/06 - princess diana

In today's excerpt - the late Washington Post columnist Marjorie Williams muses on the death of Princess Diana:

"As women swapped confessions about crying when they heard the news, many men scratched their heads in anthropological wonderment at the convulsive grief around them. ...The reason wasn't hard to grasp. Diana brought to life on the grandest scale the archetype of the princess inscribed on every girl's heart. Over time, Diana's awful marriage subverted the myth as fully as she had embodied it in the first place. Women only loved her more for this. ...

"While her example enabled us to escape some of our illusions about life in the castle, Diana wasn't so fortunate. She never really escaped the castle itself. And she was let down, not just by her marriage and her role, but by almost every man she seems to have loved. For all her fame ... and her millions, ... the life of a princess prepared her very poorly to look after herself.

"And that is why the manner of her death, even more than her life, has a terrible power for women. .. We've known for a while that trying to be a princess can stifle you, but it's horrible to think it can kill you. ... The moral of the story is that whether she's riding in a gilt carriage that bears her to St. Paul's Cathedral for the wedding of the century, or in a black Mercedes that bears her to her death, a passenger—which is the most a princess can hope to be—is never in charge. It's a hard lesson for women to learn, and it's one that men knew all along."


Marjorie Williams


The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate


Perseus Books Group


Copyright 2005 by Timothy Noah


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