With the ten-year anniversary of Princess Diana’s death fast approaching, “The Diana Chronicles” by Tina Brown provides a fascinating profile of a very complicated, yet influential woman.
Brown starts with the days that led up to Diana’s death, debunking any conspiracy theories that Princess Diana was murdered; instead painting a sad, tragedic accident that took her life. She discusses how Dodi El Fayed came into the Princess’s life and how Diana, recently divorced, accepted his friendship because, ironically, the El Fayeds made her feel safe.
Brown’s writing is witty, yet sensitive, and unforgivingly honest. After examining the accident, Brown takes a direct look at Diana’s parents, their marriage, and the family Diana was born into. She reveals little tidbits that might not have been known or realized about the princess, starting with her family’s service to the crown that dated back to the Stuart kings. Diana herself was a rare Spencer blonde, with the majority of Spencers redheads. Her parents’ marriage is examined in depth. It’s the death of baby John Spencer shortly after childbirth, which begins her parents’ slow descent toward divorce. Diana and her younger brother, Charles, are most affected by their mother suddenly out of their lives due to the separation. When their father remarries Raine, the Spencer children, including Diana are hardly civil to her. Yet, behind the mask of hurt and pain of her parents’ divorce, Diana is a sensitive child. She enjoys cleaning, learns to cook, and her amazing empathy makes her a wonderful nanny to an American couple, the Robertsons, as well a sweet kindergarten teacher. It’s in this world as a young nineteen-year-old woman, Diana becomes acquainted with Prince Charles.
Brown examines the man Prince Charles is and the pressure he was under at the time he met Diana to find a bride. He was thirty and the love of his life, Camilla Parker-Bowles, was married, yet young Lady Diana Spencer seemed to exhibit those qualities he was looking for in a wife. The royal romance was on.
Brown paints a very human picture of the princess. After Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, cooking and cleaning aren’t on the menu for the Princess of Wales. Diana’s faults, her quick Spenserian temper, her insecurities about her relationship to the Prince which led to her bulimia, are interlaced with her strengths, her empathy and her compassion, to give an accurate portrait of a woman who so badly wanted “happily ever after” in her own marriage after watching her own parents marriage fall apart.
Brown tackles both sides of controversy by providing the facts and letting the reader draw their own conclusion. Such topics include: was James Hewitt Prince Harry’s biological father? Was Diana’s telephone conversations with James Gibley purposely taped? Where Prince Charles telephone conversations with Camilla Parker-Bowles taped? The evidence Brown presents is surprising.
With all the books out now, this book is a standout. Brown immerses the reader into Princess Diana’s world and it’s with great reluctance they’ll want to leave.