February 28, 2013

{Why Diana?} Part Two: "Diana as Messenger"

Divided into three blog posts, this is part two of the Author's Note, "Why Diana?," from my book-in-progress, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress.]

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Nevertheless, since her wedding, Diana’s life had never really touched mine until at summer’s end in 1997 with news of her death. I can picture the moment I read the bold newspaper headline as I sat on my cozy screened-in porch that Sunday morning. I was at home in Atlanta and felt a mixed sense of disbelief, sadness and for a split second, a remembrance of another Sunday morning headline more than thirty years before. Then, even as a sheltered little girl in rural Alabama, I wondered how I could feel so sad at the death of a young, beautiful blonde Hollywood movie star who I only knew by image, yet felt some “connection.” And now here that “pit-in-my-stomach emptiness” was again. What is this energy that happens to a body at the death of a person whose iconic images were all we knew?

However, in the days to follow that Diana headline jolt was when I became truly intrigued by her. “For many people…Princess Diana has become far more interesting since her death than ever she was during her life,”English writer and Jungian analyst Warren Colman shared soon after Diana died. That’s when I began to look beyond appearances to the person “who could inspire such an enormous response in so many people”—the real person distinct from the image. She was eulogized by the Dean of Westminster as “someone for whom from afar we all dared to feel affection, and by whom we were all intrigued,” Simone Simmons wrote. “Intrigued”—here was that word again; a word that conjures up a sense of magic. Who was this “messenger” that captured the world’s attention and heart? What was the big picture of her life and mission? With the approach of a new millennium swirling in on the wings of shifting feminine energies, were we moving into the dynamics of a Diana-influenced perfect storm: global, transformative and heart-centered?

Diana in death seemed to be leading people through the depths of a powerful rite-of-passage; transmuting their grief into heart opening energy as they let go of an inheritance of sorrow and karmic boundaries—like a spiritual cleansing down to our bones. Yet there were many who considered the outpouring of grief at the shock of her death just more of the “Diana hysteria” they had witnessed during her lifetime. But then, looking back, in the wake of such a transformation, no one was untouched by these old emotional barriers falling or the new consciousness bubbling up. The week between Diana’s death and her memorial service seemed to be a time of “readying”—preparing the world for major transitions. As Simmons said in her biography published soon after her friend’s death: “the tragedy will prove to be as valuable as her life….”

I was in London a month or so after Diana’s funeral service (my last buying trip there before I closed my store a couple of years later at the end of 1999) and all the local designers and antique dealers I called on spoke of that week between Diana’s death and the televised service in Westminster Abbey. They had never felt the city so still. They shared that the few people who were on the streets were quiet, reverent, as though in a daze. Some people—including themselves, their friends and clients—were openly emotional, expressing deep sorrow even if they had not been “fans” of the princess. I understand such open emotion was not typical for the British, but then, other mysteries were emerging as well. “We had never seen anything like this, we had never been like this,” journalist and feminist Beatrix Campbell wrote. “Or rather we didn’t know that we had been like this before.” ~

[Divided into three blog posts, this is part two from the Author's Note, "Why Diana?," in my book-in-progress, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress. Part Three: "Called to Write" will be posted soon! (For the other parts of this three-part post, click on "Why Diana?" in label list below.)]


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