Belfast Telegraph

Like JFK, Di is steeped in myth and legend...

By Gail Walker

As we near the 16th anniversary of her death in that Paris underpass, Diana, Princess of Wales, still remains front page news.

Naomi Watts, who plays her in a new biopic, gets the pre-publicity of to a cracking start by claiming that the tragic royal had "granted her permission" from beyond the grave to portray her.

Meanwhile, the Met reveals it is assessing new evidence that Diana was murdered by the SAS (presumably as part of some larger conspiracy).

Year in, year out, The Queen That Never Was runs amok through our imaginations, forever 36 and beautiful. Indeed, her story touches the deepest, darkest recesses of the national psyche.

Despite three major inquiries, poll after poll shows that huge swathes – in some polls a downright majority – of people believe that Diana, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul were murdered.

As far as many are concerned, it is just obvious that crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel was engineered by the British Establishment as part of wide ranging conspiracy. And inquiries by that very same establishment be damned!

In other words, Diana is this country's JFK – the stuff of myth and legend, moving almost beyond logic.

Both symbolised – in their different ways – hope, idealism and youthfulness. Both had sexual allure and innate charisma. Both suggested that things could be different. And both died in a blaze of tragic, senseless mayhem, their untimely deaths acutely defining their eras. We even have the same mystery elements. For "the man on the grassy knoll" read "the white Fiat Uno".

Like JFK, Diana represents a great "What if?"; a road not taken. That is the root of her hold over us. And that is why we have greeted reports of the "new evidence" about SAS involvement in her death with a collective shrug of the shoulders and knowing looks at our nearest and dearest. We aren't surprised.

She warned us it would happen, that dark forces were at work. Just because she was paranoid doesn't meant they weren't out to get her.

No, this merely retrospectively confirms the conclusions many of us have already reached. Even if she wasn't murdered as such ... she kind of was. Murdered or not (and who really knows?), Diana continues to haunt us – and the Royals in particular.

Now, if only she could only somehow get a message to Naomi Watts about the truth of the matter ...

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