​Last Saturday, I turned on the radio to learn that it was the 1st July.  Forgive me but the days run on, dates often insignificant, and then suddenly it is Christmas!  The 1st July, however, did ring a bell and then, of course, I realized that it was Princess Diana’s Birthday.  She would have been 56, had she lived.  It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since her death and for me, as for so many, it will always be one of those stand out moments in my life – the unfolding of her death in Paris. 
We had been to friends for dinner that evening, Saturday, 30th August 1997.  New friends, we shared lots in common as well as lots of food – and wine!  Home late, there was the inevitable penance to pay, and I was up early to try and allay the effects with my indispensable Recovery sachets and copious amounts of water.  The Sunday papers had been delivered (forget my insistence on buying ‘organic, hand made food’, herein must lie the reason for our incredible debt!) and, blinking repeatedly to try and clear the mist from my eyes, I could see the bold headline: ‘Dodi dead.  Diana injured in Paris car crash’, or words to that effect.  I just remember running upstairs – some hangover cure – to waken the house and then it was a case of sitting in front of the television for the rest of the day in disbelief as the story unfolded and the world tried to cope with Diana’s death.  It was awful.  One could not fail to be moved and it was a huge reality shock.  This iconic young woman who graced the front pages of most newspapers most days, whose story had gripped us since the first images of her in that see-through skirt at the kindergarten, who was only seen to be recently emerging from the dark years of her marriage with a new zest for life, was gone.
The images of Charles and her sisters making that journey to Paris to bring her body home; the news footage of William and Harry being driven to church at Crathie as though their world was unchanged …  yet, strangely, that which I found the most moving was seeing her brother, Charles, walking to the gate of his home in Cape Town to read his statement.  He looked utterly distraught.  In that instant, he was the little boy, once more, who had been shielded and protected by his devoted older sister as they struggled to cope with their mother’s desertion.  I never forgot reading of how Diana used to comfort her little brother when he was crying or couldn’t get to sleep; she mothered him and together they helped each other through ensuring a deep- rooted bond for life.  Yes, they fell out.  Siblings do.  Yes, they were estranged – don’t like that word, it sounds so cold – but the pain and, too late, the realization of all that wasted time was etched all over his face.
Fast forward to the funeral and, of course, one will never forget the image of these two young boys walking that never-ending walk behind their mother’s coffin.  There with them, though, was her brother and it was his eulogy which triggered my tears.  Straight from the heart, the depth of his love was palpable and the applause spontaneous.  The Windsors were deserving of every grenade hurled at them: a Queen who had seen fit to remove the HRH title from the mother of our future King and a weak husband who, cruelly, never tried to hide his love for another woman. 
I have a younger brother whom I no longer see – wait for the book!  Less than 2 years apart, we were like twins growing up; we did everything together and I mothered him exactly as Diana did Charles, the only difference being that we had a secure, happy family – or so we thought.  Leaving home for university in Edinburgh, he was a frequent visitor and later joined me in a flat with my friends.  He had the best room, we cooked for him, did his ironing and provided him with a ready-made social life.  He had it all.  What went wrong?  Jealousy reared its ugly head.  I believe it to be the most destructive emotion of all and my shattered family bear testament to that.  The deep-seated jealousy of a mother and girlfriends – and subsequent wives – who could not fathom or embrace the closeness of a brother and sister.  Of course, jealousy is only fed by insecurity and there’s the rub.  To this day, however, I carry a great sadness and acknowledge the importance of that childhood bond which can never be broken; buried, yes, but never broken.
So, twenty years on and that, in itself, is a poignant marker for William and Harry.  More vocal, of late, in revealing their struggles following their mother’s death and the long-term effects of such a loss, how could any decent human being think it appropriate to cash in on the anniversary by writing a book?  Step forward Penny Junor, royal biographer, and ‘Duchess’.
Apparently, this is Camilla’s side of the story sourced rather from those close to her than the protagonist herself.  Of course, it is of interest; of course, it will be a best seller; of course, it will be extremely lucrative; of course, too, it will open old wounds for William and Harry!  Yet another reminder of that which is, ultimately, important in today’s cynical world – money.  One does wonder, though, as to the emotional repercussions of this book at such a sensitive time.  Apparently the two princes are championing a commemorative statue of their mother and she, more than ever, is very much in their thoughts.  Is their relationship with Camilla, then, strong enough to survive more revelations of their mother’s misery slanted very much in favour of the woman who was the catalyst for her unhappiness?  Have they truly forgiven her?  Do they even have a relationship with her? 
Both William and Harry have been very open about how much they still miss their mother and the great pain they carry with them.  This book, and the inevitable publicity surrounding it, will surely rekindle old feelings of the hurt and betrayal caused by their father for whom their apparent forgiveness and understanding I already find hard to fathom.  Perhaps it is a case of selective memory? Block out and move on.  In which case, may they fasten their seat belts for the next couple of months at least.  It is going to be a bumpy ride!
One was either in the Diana camp or that of Charles.  There was no middle of the road.  I was in the former, as one would imagine.  I abhor lies, deceit and, of course, cheating and, for the record, I always have!  Enough said.  My father, on the other hand, couldn’t stand Diana declaring her a gross hysteric.  She was certainly flawed and riddled with insecurities but she was the product of her fragile upbringing.  So, too, was – and is – Charles.  His mother was distant and cold and his father intolerant of weakness.  Little wonder that they all but destroyed each other.  Both were wounded from the outset and, ultimately, neither was capable of healing the other’s pain.
‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’     Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism.
He speaks.  I listen.
This is Trish, signing off.