Tuesday 23 October 2018

Mary Kenny: Diana's tragedy

As the wise Jane Austen warned: marriages without affection are misery

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

It would be an exaggeration to say that I knew Diana, Princess of Wales, but I met her, and it later transpired that she read what I wrote. Or maybe she just read the reports about herself: for she said to the editor of The Daily Telegraph (as he recounted subsequently), "Why can't you write nice things about me, like Mary Kenny?" I suppose I did write positively about Diana because she was a very winning personality, and seemed so unstuffy: she spoke rather simply to me about how she really would have liked to be a nurse, and how rewarding it was to look after people who were ill or afflicted.

Subsequent events have, of course, revealed so much more about her life, and divisions of opinion about Diana intruded into my own home life: my late husband disliked her intensely, or disliked the type of woman she was - "manipulative", he called her. The type of young woman who must always draw attention to herself, making trouble. And so divided opinions reigned at home and abroad.

What became clear was that Diana was a damaged young woman - damaged by the circumstances of her own parents' catastrophic marriage. Her father was, it seemed, physically abusive, and her mother was what the British aristocracy call "a bolter". Poor Frances, Diana's mother, did leave home - after four children and much misery - and, in her own later years, suffered much remorse.

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