It’s almost a quarter of a century since the Princess met her gruesome and untimely death. The collective outpouring of grief confirmed she was the nation’s sweetheart, while her ghost continues to inflame the public’s imagination and haunt the royal family. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, secrets at the heart of the British establishment are being exposed as never before.
Production starts next month on series five of the Netflix must-watch, The Crown. Viewers will get to see it next year. Huge ratings guaranteed.
Meghan, Harry and Megxit, already a massive draw, are likely to be topped by the new drama now unfolding.
To recap, briefly, BBC journalist Martin Bashir’s tell-all interview with Princess Di was widely regarded as the scoop of the century.
Some wondered at the time how he got it, but it’s taken till now for his dodgy methods to finally come out.
The bank statements he got mocked up appeared to show members of the royal household were being paid by news outlets to spy on the princess.
Her son, the future King William, says this ‘contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation’ in her final years.
Whether it also eventually got her to sit down with Bashir remains in dispute. But what isn’t is the right royal ruckus going on now.
The rule of thumb is these guys keep schtum, no matter what. But this time the Duke of Cambridge has given Auntie Beeb both barrels.
And so’s his brother.
In fact, Harry’s gone further, directly linking it with his mother’s death, and opening up about mental health issues stemming from childhood trauma.
Following the collapse of three of her children’s marriages, the queen referred to 1992 as an ‘annus horribilis’.
What she’ll make of 2021 is anyone’s guess. But tectonic plates on the top table are seriously shifting.
Royals were always cracking copy, rival media organisations love a bit of Beeb bashing, and the story goes way beyond conventional politics.
So it’s a space worth watching. And looks set to be for a fair old while.
Not least because this is not the only damning report that’s just highlighted stuff being swept under carpets.
The official body overseeing the government’s spending has rapped its knuckles for being too slow in compensating so-called Windrush victims.
These are the older people of colour given a hard time by officialdom even though they were quite within their rights to be in UK.
What links the two sets of findings is the accusation of cover-up by those trading as the Great and the Good.
Seems some cages deserve a bloody good rattling.
Meantime, the latest Covid news is looking good.
The Indian variant’s only spiking in three of the fifteen expected hotspots, raising hopes that we really shall open up as planned in less than a month.
And the first analysis of real-world data suggests after two AstraZeneca jabs people are eighty-five to ninety per cent protected.
Also, only a handful of the huge numbers of people at trials of mass events tested corona-positive. So rock on, everyone.
Could be more upbeat still if we Brits follow the example being set across the channel.
A trial carried out by France’s national vets’ school and a Paris hospital showed le meilleur ami de l’homme is brilliant at sniffing out Covid.
The dogs were better at it than most fast lateral flow tests, getting it right in almost every case.
Jolly handy for checking people out in crowded places. Airports as well as gigs.
And, another nugget of good overseas news, at the time of writing at least the Israeli/Palestinian ceasefire was holding.
This after nearly a fortnight’s uneven bloodletting. Twelve Israelis dead, nearly twenty times that number on the Palestinian side.
But under Joe Biden, the US government will get back to mediation, with grassroots Democrats increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
Even more annoyingly for The Donald, a probe into his company affairs has been upgraded from civil status to criminal. That makes three.
Al Capone springs to mind. Apparently getting away with murder, finally banged up on a tax rap.
And the normally reticent Barack Obama has finally aired his thoughts.
According to a new book, he said Trump was a ‘madman’, a ‘racist, sexist pig’, ‘that f*cking lunatic’ and a ‘corrupt motherf*cker’.
Gosh. What was it the House of Cards PM Francis Urquhart used to say?
‘You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.’
Back in the real world, you might very well also be thinking a return to post-lockdown normality may be trickier than it looks.
And you wouldn’t be alone. Experts are describing the neither up nor down state many of us are in as ‘languishing’.
But psychotherapist Sheri Jacobson says we might emerge stronger than we think.
‘This is an amazing opportunity for a person to re-establish themselves – like having a blank sheet of paper in front of you.
‘Write down your goals and the things you’ve learned about yourself, or draw yourself doing them,’ she adds.
And that includes getting out and talking to people, according to Jane Ogden, health psychology prof at Surrey uni.
‘Lockdowns have created more social anxiety, and you might be telling yourself you don’t need people any more.
‘In fact you probably do, and just feel a bit nervous about it,’ she points out.
And, while restrictions can be a good pretext for culling friends who sap energy, relationships specialist Sue Quilliam says don’t take it too far.
‘Most psychological studies agree the more isolated you are, the more your mental health – as well as your physical health – will suffer,’ she warns.
Loads of others will be gagging to get out and about, mind. And Whitehall wants to tap up those feeling particularly friendly and frisky.
Plans are afoot to use sites like Tinder to get people to just say yes, ahem – to the jab.
The idea is to get users to flag up that they’ve had it, the injection that is, to encourage others to do the same.
A government source said: ‘This is being properly looked at. There are ongoing conversations.’
At the same time, there’s a lot less friendly convo going on between a man in Texas and Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company.
Colby Watson claims a special seventy-five-dollar candle the firm makes actually exploded.
According to court documents, it became ‘engulfed in high flames’, leaving a ‘black burn ring’ on his bedside table.
However, no one was hurt, and the website insists the ‘frivolous’ claim is just ‘an attempt to secure an outsized payout from a press-heavy product’.
Suppose it would be. Its selling point is: ‘This Smells Like My Vagina.’
Peter’s column will return on June 6th
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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