The book is bracing, like a massive wave, but just as easy to get a little too caught up in.
As usual, I figured it was a matter of class differences (between us, that is.)
So here is another perspective. Your mileage may vary…
It had been a moment of collective madness, a late summer fit of national hysterics in which Britain briefly lost its mind. The smart posture was one of gentle derision, usually alongside a claim that it was all got up, or at least exaggerated, by the media. (…)
That September week suggested another country was emerging, one that was more open, plural and socially liberal. (Remember, Diana’s favoured causes were progressive ones: Aids, homelessness, landmines.) The Britain that would be on show in Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony 15 years later had just offered a glimpse of itself.
In retrospect, that week offered a foretaste of something else too. A much-repeated phrase of the time was “the end of deference”. If Britons were no longer keeping a stiff upper lip, they were also refusing to touch their forelock. They did not hesitate to vent their fury with the head of state, waving aside protocol and tradition. The country was in no mood to listen to the establishment; it was determined to get its way.
In the week of Diana, Britons revealed that, if the moment was right, they were quite willing to defy the ruling elite, to wave aside the so-called experts and listen to their instincts. They were also more than ready to put cold reason to one side and be guided by heart and gut.
This week Diana’s former psychic and “energy healer” has been rightly derided for claiming to know that the princess’s spirit, from the grave, backed Brexit. Still, if the leave campaign was characterised, in part, by a combination of anti-establishment fury and the triumph of emotion, then there is a line that can be traced that connects the EU referendum and the late summer of 1997.
Through her death, the people’s princess gave us an early glimpse of a very British form of populism – and it is anything but dead.