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5 December 1995

Princess Diana: Queen of Victims

In her BBC interview Princess Diana expressed her wish to be a 'Queen of people's hearts'. Remarkably, many people have fallen for this claptrap. An NOP poll for the Sunday Times records that seventy per cent of respondents support Diana's ambition to become an ambassador for goodwill, while a poll in the Times puts the princess at the top of a list of favourite people for the nineties.
Diana's reputation for good works was given a further boost by the judicious publicisation of her 'unpublicised' visits to the sick. On 5 December Childline press officer Wendy Toms heaped praise on the princess for her support to the children's charity, dubbing her Saint Diana (Sun).

At a time when the Royal Family's reputation is lower than ever, the Princess's popularity is soaring. Instead of the closed world of the Royals, Diana offers a Royal for the nineties - but that is just the problem. The modern ideals the princess embodies are those of a sentimentality quite as mawkish as anything the House of Windsor could have offered before.

The Princess is a living embodiment of the cult of the victim. Her public confession as a Bulimia sufferer was of more moment than the acknowledgement of infidelity - something that once would have merited an execution. But as a self-confessed victim of an eating disorder, the princess bought in to one of the biggest lies of the late twentieth century, that there is a virtue in suffering.

How very convenient for a representative of the wealthiest family in Britain to talk of the burdens of office. The poor suffering Royals - Who is she trying to kid? Princess Diana's separation settlement is quite generous enough to make sure that the Child Support Agency will not be calling at the Palace. She clearly revels in the wealth and status of her position, but we are supposed to think of her as the poor little rich girl.

One glimpse of the truth about Diana's compassion did slip out in the BBC interview. As she described it in an aside her charity work was a busy round of 'battered this and battered that'. That would have been a sceptical but honest appraisal of the insincerity behind cult of the victim - if she were not its principal protagonist. As it is Diana only let us glimpse for a moment the utter cynicism behind the promotion of the princess of victimhood.

James Heartfield

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