*Edited/updated x 2
I just finished watching the Queen's Christmas speech, while attempting to ride off too much Christmas food, on my stationary bike lol - and I found it very personally touching, as well as very inclusive of all races and faiths, regarding hope :)
We've all heard the phrase, "We're all in this together," over the last 9 months, all over the world - but because our nation in particular has been so politically divided on how to handle the crisis, even some denying the virus' existence, it was difficult to really feel like we really were 'all in this together.'
Not to mention, this pandemic revealed just how many cracks there really are in both our healthcare system and our broken socioeconomic system overall, with especially poorer people and people of color suffering the worst consequences.
However, there was something about the Queen of England telling us "You're not alone" ... that worked?
Because we forget that even royalty is living the socially-distanced way we are, and that she and Phillip (who reportedly has not been in good health?) cannot see their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, except over Facetime, like the rest of us.
We often forget, though we joke - they're still just a somewhat-dysfunctional family, underneath it all, selfish choices and selfless ones, a mix of good and bad, just like the rest of us - not a single member of the royal family is a saint, by any stretch of the imagination lol.
(Well, except maybe Philip's mother, Princess Alice, comes the closest - more about her later.)
And though they've tried and tried to keep their family skeletons in the closet, they somehow keep escaping, because the rest of the world is intent on trying to prove they exist (and often vilify them for it, even though they are often the same problems every family experiences).
Mark and I have been watching The Crown, on Netflix, up until this season midway, which of course, we understand is a dramatization, and that certain liberties were taken.
However, the one thing the show actually does well is show you all the different perspectives on certain events, by piecing together things the royals have actually said and done publicly, as well as what their critics have said, showing you all possible perspectives to a story and letting you make up your own mind - IMO, the show is very fair.
Because let us never forget, as conditioned and trained as these people are, they are still human. They make mistakes, have regrets, make the wrong choices, have selfish moments, think they're doing the right thing only for it to turn out to be the wrong thing, or twisted into the wrong thing, by those so inclined.
In fact, I found myself liking virtually everyone, even feeling sorry for every single one of them, at some point, even my least favorite family members.
However, I will say, as much as I like certain people, at times, I still found myself saying to the screen:
"Philip? I get your off-putting sense of humor, actually your coping skill and an attempt to try to put everyone at ease, but - erm - maybe now is not the time?"
"No, no, Queen Elizabeth, you really should go to Aberfan, now. No, really"
"Margaret, why are you being such a little snot to Margaret Thatcher, and especially Diana, when you of all people should know what it's like to be the rebel and outsider? What's the matter - see yourself somewhere in them?"
"Charles, get your arse over to your brand-new wife, Diana, instead of hanging out with Camilla all day, geez."
"Diana, you cannot force this family to change, especially not this way, resorting to manipulativeness and vindictiveness. Charles is not going to suddenly fall in love with you, they're not going to suddenly care about you and show love in the way you think they should, and you're never going to get what you need from them. They should, but they're not going to - so stop trying to make them, and to counter-control them. The sooner you accept that, and let you do you, and let them do them, the better off it will be for all."
Though truth be told, in Princess Margaret's defense, Margaret Thatcher was apparently a very strange lady, who often seemed to be a walking contradiction to her own stated politics and ideals, most visibly exhibited by her very dramatic, extremely low curtsey, while at the same time, calling out both royalty and nobility in parliament for being upper-class snobs.
She also apparently had a very dry sense of humor that sometimes led to her appearing not to have a sense of humor at all?
However, I got the impression that much of this snobbery perception actually came more from Thatcher's own insecurity with feeling uncomfortable around royals, rather than those people actually insulting/bullying/treating her badly, at least in the royal family (though Philip and Margaret didn't help) - especially the Queen, who seemed at first excited to meet her for unparalleled camaraderie - a fellow woman in power in rooms full of men. In fact, the Queen appeared to repeatedly try to reach out to her in camaraderie, only to be met with with a less-than-enthusiastic Thatcher, who never gave as much effort back.
Then again, I'm not sure this overly high personal boundary wall was built just for royals - it appears Thatcher had that wall built around her against pretty much everybody but her husband.
And yet I still have a certain amount of respect for Thatcher, regardless of disagreeing with much of her politics, because of what she was able to accomplish and stand against, at times, right or wrong, when there was no precedent for women set.
And I gotta say, even though this was supposedly the season of Diana, Gillian Anderson did an exceptionally good job as Thatcher and upstaged the storyline of the introduction of Diana, whether she was dead on Thatcher's personality or not - Gillian's Thatcher was a natural scene stealer :)
And in my opinion, though press likes to pit two powerful women against each other, I didn't get that impression, either in real life or the show - I got the impression that they disagreed vehemently on how to handle various political subjects, though supposedly on the same political side, just as men would.
Most notably, the Queen supposedly showed more compassion and support for people of color in South Africa, and supported sanctions on South Africa for apartheid, whereas Thatcher seemed to have no compassion for anybody that protested anything (Thatcher was the only European or U.S. leader to NOT support sanctions for South Africa for apartheid) - even though she herself had a love/hate relationship, with "the establishment."
This famous disagreement, of course, led to the Queen recommending relatively weak sanctions on South Africa for apartheid, in comparison with other countries, knowing she did not have the support of Prime Minister Thatcher.
In fact, the only impression of competition or tension between powerful women that I was left with was, Margaret and Elizabeth, at first, and Jackie Kennedy and the Queen, but those fences were apparently mended and chalked up to immaturity, at the time.
But on the other hand, IMO, in reality, despite the Queen's best efforts for camaraderie, the only thing the Queen and Margaret Thatcher actually had in common was that both were deathly afraid of ever showing emotion as a woman - they clearly felt they couldn't and shouldn't, even showing less emotion than men because people would be looking for it, as a woman - despite the fact that oftentimes, showing emotion in support is appropriate, regardless of your gender.
I honestly stopped watching shortly after Thatcher, when Diana entered the picture, mostly because I know the story after that, and I already felt I had a pretty fair and balanced view of it - but also the whole thing is just so tragic - I find that whole story extraordinarily sad and heartbreaking for everybody.
I honestly don't feel anyone was either a villain OR an innocent victim in the Royals Vs. Diana situation, including Diana herself - although her being a 19-year-old, naive, virgin, would put her the closest to being an innocent victim, at least in the beginning - but in some ways, Charles was somewhat of a victim, too, of this unyielding royal regime.
Though many people have taken sides, Royals Vs. Diana, let us never forget that it is rarely one person that creates the group chaos, and we should avoid scapegoating, especially the whistleblower on dysfunction as being "the cause" or "the troublemaker."
It's a group dynamic the entire dysfunctional group creates - and I believe they all made choices that were not only not helpful, but made the situation much worse.
Because the truth is, even if Diana was emotionally unstable from the get-go (rather than put in a situation that increasingly fostered/induced it) - they approved her, and in fact pushed Charles to marry her, despite Charles wanting to marry Camilla - and this was absolutely the worst dysfunctional-family-dynamics-in-a-fishbowl situation to put someone emotionally unstable in, that I can think of.
The royal family are people trained to not show emotion in public from birth, not out of snobbery or coldness, but out of a sense of duty - as a noble way of standing behind events in support, in the background, rather than becoming the story, by showing personality or emotion.
I get that, it's noble - but after a certain point, all of that keeping up false appearances, pretending, and denial can become dysfunctional - even a disastrous, toxic mess - especially for someone not trained that way, not willing to pretend along, and especially someone like Diana, who never felt loved to begin with - especially without anyone cluing her in to certain things, first.
Now, to be fair to the royals side, we Americans love the idea of a King abdicating the throne for love of an American, but we cannot forget the following three things:
1) How much chaos was created by Edward VIII abdicating the throne in 1936 to marry twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson - it nearly undid the monarchy, and regardless of politics, left the country in an identity crisis for quite some time.
2) Edward and Wallis had some questionable Nazi sympathizer ties.
3) The abdication wasn't as much about love of Wallis, or bucking outdated traditions, as it was love for himself. Edward (or David as privately known), though likely a very fun person to be around, also clearly loved all the privilege that being royal provided, but without putting in any actual work or carrying any of the responsibility lol. He lived his entire life for himself, he did whatever he wanted to do, when and however he wanted to do it.
This, of course, actually worked out well, in the end, because this is not an appropriate attitude for a King (or President of the United States, but I'll stop there ;) - and though George VI (Elizabeth's father) was less showy and charismatic, he knew the importance of duty and service - and though initially a reluctant, unprepared king, won the country's heart back for royals.
So in this family, at that time, the unselfish thing was denying yourself and your own needs to be dutiful - follow the rules for the sake of Britain rather than living for yourself - but as I said this tradition also led to a lot of pretending, denial, and dysfunction, truth be told - and it also contributed to Margaret's choices, Charles' choices later, and eventually Harry's.
And despite what happened to Margaret and Peter Townsend, and the toll it took on Margaret's own mental state and health, Charles found himself in the exact same dilemma, with the same choice - marry the woman he loved, or deny his own needs to marry a young, polite, shy, never-married, socially acceptable girl within English-noble society that his family wanted him to.
Well, as we have hopefully learned right along with the Queen, with Charles and Diana, that either choosing duty OR love can both turn out to be the selfish choice - and in fact, there may be no way to win that game.
And at this point, I say let them marry who they love, and if they make a mess of it, they do - just like 50% of all marriages do - but at least there'll be nobody to blame but themselves, rather than traditions or pressure from anybody else.
But at the very least, someone should've clued the very young Diana in that he was still in love and carrying on with Camilla; however, no one did - she found out the hard way.
IMO, Diana was innocent in the beginning, but later, IMO, she became pretty manipulative and vindictive, and tried to force Charles to love her, force his family to suddenly change who they were and to care about her in the way she wanted and actually deserved, rather than accept this was as much this family was capable of giving her.
It seems that when she finally figured this out and just let it all go, left this situation that was toxic for her (or more accurately, was finally allowed out), she started coming into her own - and then she died :(
No, by the way - I do NOT believe the crazy conspiracy theories that Philip or anyone in the royal family had Diana murdered - I think that's ridiculous.
Not so much because I believe royalty isn't capable of murder, history has shown us otherwise, but because it would've been a stupid move.
Diana was never more popular than after leaving the family, and killing someone at the height of their popularity would only make a martyr of them - something royalty knows better than anyone.
Plus, I'm pretty sure, at that time, they were still pretty pissed about the BBC interview, two years earlier, and wouldn't have wanted to do anything to give any credence to anything she said during that interview as appearing even remotely true; in fact, they were busy trying to act the complete opposite of how Diana described them - so murdering her would've just been stupid, given a grain of credence to how she described them, and only made them look worse.
In fact, I think Philip was actually surprisingly the most compassionate towards her, according to personal letters between them, he seemed very fond of Diana and to tolerate her emotionalism - in fact, sometimes seemed to be the calming voice of reason, she listened to him - because let us not forget, once upon a time, it was Philip who was once considered "not good enough" for Elizabeth and was always in trouble for saying and doing the wrong thing lol.
In fact, they were supposedly very close, the closest of any, until they weren't - but that was her choice. In Diana's defense, I think by that time, Diana didn't know who to trust, understandably - there was a lot of two-facedness going on.
But to be honest, it seems to me the women in the family seemed to be harder on Diana than the men were, particularly women who themselves also struggled with sentimentality and when it was appropriate to show emotion?
Back to the other members of the royal family, you may be surprised at who I determined were my favorites, at least according to The Crown, piecing together actual events with written letters and interviews.
Princess Alice (Philip's mother) is my absolute favorite family member, though she appeared only briefly - for why, read below, under Philip's story :)
Other favorites are, in no particular order, Queen Elizabeth (which I'll go into the why's of later), Philip, Margaret, Ann, and Charles and Diana (for different reasons).
Now keep in mind, like I said, they all annoyed me, at one time or another, but that's what this show does well - it shows you the good and the bad and everything in between - it shows you how human people really are, even royals.
Let's start with Philip - though he could be quite a rude arse at times, I still really liked him - I can't help myself :)
Perhaps because I understood more about Philip than I did most of the other members of the family, and I walked away from this show having a tremendous respect, or at least a deeper understanding for Prince Philip, versus the others, despite antics in his youth.
Because unlike other royals, this man knew true trauma, from the time he was a baby, and I believe it shaped a lot of his choices, for better or worse.
Escaping Greece during civil unrest as a baby, his mother, Princess Alice, supposedly started showing signs of "paranoid schizophrenia" - but I'm going to officially call that into question, now.
Because back in the day, the "my wife is crazy, I'm putting her away" was a common way for men of privilege to gaslight and discredit a wife who'd caught onto his cheating and/or other immoral antics, and they could pay to have their wives put away - or even siblings or children to put a mother or sister away, to take inheritances ( as even Lincoln's children tried to do with Mary Todd only Mary Todd still had enough money to legally fight back) - as a way to discredit them and keep anyone from learning the truth about themselves.
We do know that Philip's father was a philandering Nazi supporter, at the exact same time she was hiding Jews - so I'm doubting she really was ever truly mentally ill - and am wondering instead if things were intentionally twisted in order to get her out of the way and discredit her, so he could continue to be a philandering Nazi and benefit from her dowry anyway, now without sanction.
It seems likely she was at least briefly suffering from PTSD and depression; however, Freud and others saw her and claimed she was "psychotic" because she stated that she felt like God was "sending her a message," that she went through the experiences that she did to train her to understand suffering and help others?
Yeah, erm - I'm not sure that's psychotic, it depends - lots of people believe God has a purpose for their life and a reason for their suffering, including saints, so?
I'm not sure God actually speaks to anyone - he never speaks to me personally, I wish he did lol.
And I don't believe God has a calling or purpose for every single person, but I understand that most people believe that, actually, that's not psychotic.
And many charismatics believe God actually does speak directly to them - yet nobody calls them psychotic, because there are so many of them, these days, and they support the "right" politics - even though sometimes, perhaps some should be called mentally ill? ;)
But then again, how do we know he doesn't, with some very special people, just because we don't experience it ourselves?
So I question whether Princess Alice was ever truly mentally ill, because as still exists in our society today, royal or not, when smarter and more outspoken women do not bow to convention, or whistleblow on dysfunction, they are often labeled "crazy" - medicated and ostracized.
Add to that, we all know how misogynistic Freud was, plus removing a woman's uterus to "cure hysteria" (rather than induce it) was common practice - and was not only absurd, but extraordinarily misogynistic and cruel.
That is not to say there aren't some crazy B's out there, wreaking havoc - but I honestly wonder if most of the women labeled "crazy" or "emotionally unstable," at that time, especially in royal families, actually weren't - it was just convenient to label them like this in effort to discredit anything they had to say.
Regardless, Princess Alice was then institutionalized throughout Philip's childhood, and he was angry with her and wanted nothing to do with her for "abandoning" him, not realizing until two years before her death that she had no choice in any of it, and her treatment in these institutions was barbaric - ECT therapy which was unwarranted for her condition and removing her uterus and ovaries to treat "hysteria." :(
Princess Alice had always been an extremely compassionate person, even before they left Greece, often finding herself in hot water for giving much of what she had away to the poor - and especially for having the bravery and compassion to help hide several Jews from the growing anti-semitic/Nazi movement - for which she has now been recognized by Israel's Holocaust Memorial Institution and awarded a posthumous honor of being a "Person of Righteousness."
In fact, during a German raid of her house, though she was partially deaf, she was smart enough to realize quickly that if she faked being fully deaf and mute, she could convince them she didn't understand what they were asking and looking for - and she was successful - and continued to hide more Jews from them LOL!
After finally being allowed to leave the institution as "cured" - from supposed "paranoid schizophrenia," mind you, for which there is still no cure - she actually became even more compassionate, if you can believe that, forgiving those who wronged her, and established an order of Greek Orthodox nuns who cared for the poor and sick, giving what she had left of her possessions away to the poor, and spent most of her days trying to find ways to keep the the convent afloat.
So in the end, was she really crazy?
Or was she just smart, outspoken, sensitive and compassionate, and refused to bow to royal and social convention for women, especially during the rise of Nazism in Germany and Austria?
And considering what she accomplished, is it possible that perhaps God really did have a higher purpose for her life?
Who are we to say?
Maybe she was right. Or maybe she was crazy. Or maybe she was both crazy and had a higher purpose. After all, many "crazy" people with the best intentions have changed the world for the better :)
As for Philip, he spent most of his life believing his mother abandoned him, and his mother being the butt of jokes and a source of shame.
Then his father took up with Nazis, his sisters marrying Nazis.
Then his favorite sister was killed in a plane crash, apparently giving birth while on the plane, to his nephew, just before the crash, as they found a newborn infant in the wreckage beside her, who also perished.
Later in life, the Queen insisted Princess Alice come and live with them to care for her, despite Philip's protests, and it was Princess Anne who became extremely close to her, and helped facilitate the restoration of Philip and Princess Alice's relationship by revealing the truth (not in the way The Crown showed it being done, apparently, there was no Guardian reporter involved, but yes).
Make no mistake, Philip can sometimes be a tremendous snobby a-hole - making inappropriate, almost bullying jokes sometimes, especially with the non-athletically-inclined Charles - but I think that his sense of humor was his coping skill when things were awkward, and he was trying to train Charles to be tough and hide his heart because Philip himself had a big heart he was hiding and that's how he learned to do it ;)
Because let us not forget his capacity for compassion, at times, i.e. Aberfan - and the reason for Philip walking behind Diana's casket was not only out of his love for her, but also to support Harry walking behind it, because Harry didn't think he could handle it, until Philip said he'd walk with him (and you'll notice that Philip kept looking at Harry while they walked).
I guess what I'm saying is, I can understand Philip's choices, agree with them or not, right or wrong, more than I can some of the others, if that makes sense?
Also, he was forced to change his name, quit his military career, even not allowed his personal hobby of flying, at times, due to "royal duty," and shunned by much of parliament and the Queen's own supporters for not being of enough respectable and royal background and breeding, not helped by the fact that he often messed up protocol and stuck his foot in his mouth, trying to lighten the tension with jokes.
This couldn't have been easy for anyone, but especially as the "Queen's consort," originally with no other title than that, in an otherwise male-dominated society, at the time - and he admittedly took it very passive-aggressively out on Elizabeth, at the beginning of their marriage.
But the thing about Philip you'd never suspect, because of the gruff exterior is - all that gruff covers a big heart and a deep thinker, which he appears sometimes ashamed of or tries to hide - but Philip has admitted, over time, and learns from, his mistakes (unlike some others in that family) :)
Next let's talk about Margaret, who I still feel sorry for and couldn't help liking, even though she could sometimes be quite the little snobby B lol.
I don't think she ever really got over being forbidden to marry Peter Townsend, after being strung along with promises for years - nor do I think she ever truly fully forgave Queen Elizabeth for pushing off her marriage to Peter for years - perhaps because Elizabeth never gave a real apology
However, in the Queen's defense, this show shows at least the Queen herself was young and naive, and kept following the advice of her father's advisors, who often kept her in the dark about much, including the full actual legal protocol of royal marriage, stringing Elizabeth along, too, by withholding that knowledge from her - until she learned to stand up for herself and educate herself :)
And yet, I can't help but wonder that because Margaret was actually considered the prettiest, the funniest/most fun, and as having the most personality, if the Queen, consciously or not, made choices so that Margaret would never outshine her.
However, as the Queen matured, I honestly think she felt guilty for this, and what happened to Margaret, and that this, combined with Diana, has been the biggest reason she allowed Harry and Meghan to do as they wish, to an unprecedented degree.
Margaret herself was a dichotomy, it seems - she clearly had a love/hate relationship with the deference aspect of being a royal, and of being a royal in general.
She wanted to escape being royal and have people treat her like a normal human being, yet when people didn't and made mistakes following correct deference protocol, she was the first one to call it out and make fun of/judge them.
She tried to put her life on hold and downplay it, on behalf of her sister and "on behalf of England," but grew very tired with doing so, especially after what happened with Peter - and later, she became quite a bit of a partier and wild card, some say even an alcoholic.
She was apparently extremely witty - absolutely hilarious and fun to be around - and said and did outspoken, outlandish things, sometimes about the family itself, which displeased the royal family to no end, who refused to give her any credit when her personality actually worked in their favor with foreign governments (like ours).
As far as her partying, apparently she didn't, until after Peter - so you can't help but wonder if those royal family decisions caused or at least contributed to this behavior?
And after marrying Antony Armstrong-Jones, knowing he would never be faithful, and she wasn't faithful herself - but she became distraught when he appeared to actually fall in love with someone else.
I guess it's like the old adage, "I don't care if he cheats on me 1 time with 10 different women, but if he cheats 10 times with the same woman, that's it, it's love and the greater wound."
And when she went to her family for support and consolation, apparently, all they could do was sing his praises to her, recounting his good qualities, which only infuriated her further.
(She and Tony had a nasty divorce, but repaired their differences, being very close friends still at the time of her death.)
She was, in fact, perhaps the original Diana, only less openly emotional and affectionate - instead, she just drank and smoked herself to death privately, instead of airing her dirty laundry publicly (though many times, she did, at parties).
You would think that Margaret would've been the most sympathetic to Diana, but instead, it was Margaret who was the hardest on her - especially after Diana "outted" the royal family with her perspective of events in the famous BBC interview of 1995.
As for that interview, I understand why Diana did it - to tell her side of things, to be better understood - because no one was on her side, back then.
Considering all of the praise for her now, we sometimes forget how merciless the press was with Diana, long before they turned her into Saint Diana.
Regardless, the BBC interview didn't help the situation - either her looking less emotionally unstable OR her relationship with the royals - and it appeared as airing her dirty laundry, which is something Royals never do.
(In fact, I recall a very cruel SNL parody of that Diana interview, with Anthony Edwards playing Diana, basically making her look like a lunatic, but you won't find a clip of it anywhere now ;)
I don't know if I would've done the same, and yet I get it and why she did.
Now, you would've thought of all people, Margaret would get that and understand Diana the most, considering similar histories - but as mentioned earlier, Margaret was actually the hardest on her about it, and supposedly never forgave her, even after Diana's death.
Which leaves me wondering if perhaps the reason Margaret was so hard on her was she saw parts of herself in Diana she didn't like, her own struggles with trying to subdue a penchant for sentimentality when she was younger, saying things that got her into trouble (including making jokes about her family), and chasing evasive love?
I think this is often the case, when one person is especially hard on another member of the family, or even a random stranger - people are often cruelest to people that exhibit the issues that they secretly struggle with themselves, they see the parts of themselves that they don't like, but won't admit it - and you can see this in Margaret with Diana, and even Philip with Charles.
Then there's Anne. Anne says exactly what she thinks, when she thinks it, crass or not, just like her father - only unapologetically and not caring what the press says about it lol.
She just keeps working hard riding her horse, whatever happens - super gruff and tough, but you can't help but like her brutal honesty. She clearly was close with Charles, coming close when she sensed he was down, just not capable of tenderness in giving him advice - it's a bit odd that she came out the tough one as opposed to Charles, isn't it? But that was the Windsor hand dealt, I guess :)
As for Charles, he actually had his own small public rebellions against Mummy and England, after spending time in Wales, but realized quickly that publicly displeasing Mum was actually the last thing he wanted to do, and that doing so was pointless - it only came back on you looking like the bad guy, if you ever did.
Charles also appears actually very thoughtful and sweet and somewhat sensitive, growing up, often being bullied for being this way, much to the dismay of Philip - and I think spent much of his young adulthood trying to prove himself otherwise, but not succeeding, in the end.
And I do think there were a lot of people - especially his father's brother, his uncle, Lord Mountbatten - who engaged in various manipulations and machinations to keep Charles and Camilla apart - and marry someone they wanted him to marry, because they would personally benefit.
Marrying Diana seemed to please Mummy and Daddy, Lord Mountbatten, and even Anne (because of her own efforts to distance herself from Parker-Bowles, Camilla's then husband, because she apparently had a purely sexual relationship with him while he was still courting Camilla), as well as the whole of UK the most, so he did it - and we have to remember the enormous pressure he had on him not to pull an Edward.
In fact, at least this show makes it appear that they hardly knew each other before he proposed - and that Diana spent most of her time at Buckingham in preparation for the wedding - completely alone. It was as if the fantasy took on a life of its own, rather than the reality, and she were nothing more than a cardboard cutout of a princess rather than an actual person.
Now, the Queen brought her there to avoid the hounding press, as an act of compassion, letting the originally Shy Di gradually get her feet wet slowly, with the press.
However, once she arrived, apparently the Queen, and everyone else - avoided her completely - a thing which I still defies explanation.
The only thing I can come up with is that nobody wanted to deal with the reality of this situation, of Charles' continuing relationship with Camilla, and have to face Diana, knowing that truth - so they just avoided it and avoided Diana, to keep pretending the fantasy was reality, as dysfunctional families often do - thus initially failing to treat Diana as an actual person, in the beginning.
Unfortunately, IMO, this appears to be when Charles began to actually embrace "the cold life," as he'd been encouraged to do - by both his father, and especially his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, whom he considered a father figure - who also allegedly advised him to marry a sweet woman for appearances, but do what you want anyway in private - right up until the day he he died via bomb. In fact, Charles had been angry with him over that advice - but then after he died, you have to wonder if he felt guilty for being angry with him, and instead took his uncle's advice?
In fact, so much did he begin to embrace this advice, that apparently even his mother, the Queen, apparently said what all would've said and tried to set him straight - sat him down and reminded him that his duty was not just keeping up appearances, but also included attending to his pregnant wife at home, rather than running around behind her back with Camilla and other actions, clearly just avoiding her and reality. (Go Queen Elizabeth!)
IMO, Charles should've already learned this lesson long ago - never ever listen to Lord Mountbatten about how a man should live his life lol.
I'm sorry he died in the way he did, but he was clearly mostly an a-hole, even more than Philip's dad was.
But in the end, let us not forget, it was Charles' idea to walk behind the casket, he absolutely insisted upon it and giving her a royal funeral despite her divorce.
And in my opinion, despite efforts to adhere to his lifelong training, in this instance, he couldn't hide it all - you could still see the devastation, anguish and guilt written all over his face, and the concern for his boys ...
Still one of the saddest things I've ever seen in live TV. In fact, my grandfather and I watched the funeral together, we were the only ones who did.
I still remember saying, "Oh my gosh, Pap, look at that, look at what they're doing for her! Oh my God, those poor boys, that is absolutely heart-wrenching to see."
... and my grandfather saying ...
"Now, look at that, ain't that something to see? They did right by her, in the end, that's good. They ain't so bad. Good on 'em" ... wiping away a lone tear.
Until that day, I had no idea my grandfather even cared about what happened in the royal family, but apparently he had a special affinity for Diana.
In fact, he woke me up early on the morning she died, by sitting on my bed and saying sadly, "Princess Diana died, last night. She was killed in a car accident."
This surprised me, and in fact, I wasn't sure why he did that, because I personally didn't have any particular feelings for Diana myself, at the time, other than feeling sorry for her occasionally, at times, and I never knew he did; but clearly, he had taken to her and I never knew it, and I still don't know why.
Then we woke my older sister, who was visiting for a week before Labor Day, a couple hours later (at about 10 a.m. as she liked to sleep in very late back then), who sat straight up and said, "WHAT?"
At the time, my older sister had very strong feelings about Diana - just not good ones.
In fact, once awake, I think she came into the kitchen and said something like ...
K: "So what, did she finally off herself? Why the F did you wake me up for THAT? What is wrong with everybody?!? It was probably an accident, while she was trying to manipulate people again, that went wrong. Well, she finally succeeded, creating the maximum drama to get the world's attention."
To which the rest of us just sat there blinking, stunned, with this display of cruelty.
Me: "I'm sorry, we just thought you'd want to know. Pap woke me up early with the news - and it's 10:30 a.m.?"
"And no, it was a car accident, the paparazzi press chasing her car into a tunnel at high speed - WHILE ACTUALLY TRYING TO ESCAPE ATTENTION!?! lol.
"GEEZ, K, really? The woman just died, what a nasty thing to say about a woman we don't even know, can't even imagine the fishbowl she lived in."
"So you're going to do the lack of compassion thing on this one? I don't think it was public attention that she was after, she clearly didn't enjoy it - in fact, she died trying to escape it. I think she just wanted the family's private attention and love, however poorly she went about trying to get it."
K: "Well, I'm only saying what the rest of the world is thinking. I'm not giving her any more attention by watching her funeral, she's created enough drama in that family"
Me: "Wow. Yeah - what the cruel half of world is thinking, and has said repeatedly. Gee, I wonder why she often felt suicidal and hurt herself, it's a mystery, isn't it? Because she lived in a vacuum, I guess, and was just crazy."
"Meanwhile, the rest of us are just sad - not just for her, but all of them, for the whole family. And there's nothing wrong with us being sad about a world tragedy."
"And I'm not sure she created the drama so much as she publicly emotionally reacted to behind-the-scenes drama, things people shouldn't have been doing. But then of course, we don't know, we weren't there. Knowing us, we probably would've overreacted, and even worse lol."
"Why do you hate her so much, you don't even know her or what really went on? But whatever, suit yourself. I think it's extremely sad for everyone involved, especially for those boys. Maybe things will change for the better now, who knows? If nothing else, she clearly adored those boys, and by all accounts, even the royal family said she was a wonderful mother."
K: "Well, they're better off without her as a mother."
Me: "Oh, well, you would know what's best for children, of course - considering you can't stand children and thus decided not to have children. Do you think her boys are feeling that way?"
"You imagine you know the inner workings of other people's lives and what's best, after taking your quarterly bird's-eye-view peek into them, with dirty glasses on, then instructing everyone on how they should be living their lives (despite no one asking), assuming that anyone at all wants to see the world and behave like you do, and then actually have the audacity to demand we all appreciate you for it. "
My grandfather stifled a laugh, with his hand over his mouth.
So then my grandmother didn't watch it, just to please her/keep the peace and so she wouldn't be able to discuss it, when they got back.
Weird, the memories you have attached to certain things, isn't it?
Also weird that even a different country away, Diana somehow evoked such intense feelings about her, one way or the other.
Regardless, back to the royal family, I think Diana's death woke Charles up to himself, who he'd become - and just how far away from who he initially was - realizing that despite Philip and Lord Mountbatten's teasing/bullying/horrible old-school royal advice, there was nothing wrong with who he used to be and who he really is - and if he'd just stood up to others arranging things for him out of some misguided sense of duty, and been open and honest with Diana from the get-go, none of this ever would've happened.
As for the other two boys, Andrew and Edward - they weren't shown much - but I get the impression, and always have had the impression - that they were/are overly entitled little snots, abusing their privilege.
Then of course, there's Diana herself - who despite her fragility, emotionality, and her later manipulative/vindictive tactics - was also a very sweet, very compassionate, very empathetic person and wonderful mother, who was actually selfless and sacrificial, when it came to those boys, who apparently never saw the other stuff, and in whom she ingrained a sense of compassion and service to others, and a woman who couldn't understand not showing affection for those she loved :)
And you'd never know it now, because how quickly we forget, the press only became favorable of her only shortly before her death - and of course after she died - but back in the day, Diana could not seem to get a break.
She couldn't get the royal protocol right, no matter how hard she tried, making her not only a family joke, but England's joke - the press was absolutely merciless and heartless to her.
At the time, we Americans showed a bit more compassion, as did many of the UK's poorer people, realizing we'd probably mess it up too, which is why she became "The People's Princess."
(Unfortunately, I wonder if America hasn't become worse as far as cruelty, but at the very least, we're even when it comes to falsehoods and cruelty.)
As for her bulimia and other suicidal and self-injurious behavior and threats, it's difficult to tell which of her self-injurious behaviors were "gestures" to manipulate/force others around to stop avoiding her and care about her as a person, or whether she did these things out of genuine self-hatred - my guess is, likely a combination of both.
Because eating disorders, much like other self-injury, are ways of punishing the self and an outcropping of being trapped in a situation you can't control - your eating habits and other forms of self-injury being things you can control.
It's a way of saying ...
"I'm trapped in this life, where I have no voice and no control, and I'm not allowed to have feelings even privately as the lowest member on the totem pole, but they can - I'm a non-person. Everyone constantly puts me down and blames me for everything, and I do keep messing up, so they must be right, I have no value. I'm not good enough, I'm not normal, I can't live up to being what they want me to be - I'm not like them and I never will be - and I'm not sure I want to be like them. So I hurt and punish myself, at least that's something I can control, I can control my weight and my pain, hurting nobody but myself. "
"I know it's not healthy, but I can't live like they do, I can't pretend, numb myself, whether with alcohol or otherwise. I can't hide my feelings as well as they can, I wish I could."
"Part of me is ashamed of feeling like this, and doesn't want anyone to know, but the other half of me wants someone to notice and care - to teach me how to not be like this, because I sincerely cannot see a way out."
"Part of me really believes dying is the only way I'll ever get out of this trap, and that everyone would be better off without me - but I'm too much of a chicken shit to just do it."
"But I really don't want to live anymore, not like this - so I don't know what to do about it. Can you teach me a better way to cope and live than this?"
Unfortunately, however, people who do this can't articulate it like that, at least at that time - especially very young teenage girls, or those amidst a truly traumatic or abusive situation - but that's what those behaviors are really saying.
It's often really just a matter of learning new coping skills, or just finding a way to get themselves the F out of the trap lol.
Above all, vilifying and further shaming them, for these behaviors, is NOT going to help - either them or you - and will likely only make the drama worse.
So if you know someone around you exhibiting these behaviors, especially a teenage girl, realize that what the above is what they're actually trying to tell you - and find a therapist that understands trauma and is willing to help teach new, appropriate coping skills rather than judge them, and how to get themselves out of legitimately being, or feeling, trapped :)
Unfortunately, until fairly recently, these behaviors weren't well understood, even by the psychological community - and they were often called "suicidal gestures" and seen as a selfish manipulation and personality disorder, instead of being what they should at least first be regarded as, before jumping to more chronic diagnoses conclusions, especially for still-developing young teenage brains - a telltale sign of that person genuinely trapped in an traumatic, abusive, or extremely stressful situation, which is or was beyond their control.
In fact, this perspective didn't change until the psychological community began seeing male soldiers return from the Middle East with PTSD exhibit the same suicidal/self-injurious gestures and behaviors ;)
Of course a traumatic childhood makes you more susceptible for post-traumatic stress - but it's not exclusive to people with rough childhoods.
Thus, the true test is whether the person still exhibits those behaviors once completely removed from the stress and finds a normal, healthy, non-toxic, more functional support system.
If the behaviors dissipate over time, or even disappear altogether, the further and longer they are removed from the precipitating event or toxic culture -after finding a healthy social support system, which is a very important piece of it - then likely the person isn't chronically "emotionally unstable" or "personality disordered" at all.
As for Diana, no one knows whether she would have exhibited these behaviors, had she not been trapped in a toxic situation for her.
However, interestingly, Diana's neurotic, hysterical, self-injurious behavior did seem to dissipate, once she left that family (or more accurately, was allowed to leave).
She did seem much more confident, happier, and she dove headfirst into causes she believed in - and all of that bulimia and self-injurious stuff seemed to just dissipate and disappear - and her popularity skyrocketed.
So was she truly "emotionally unstable" overall, or was she just a very sensitive person who had "hypersensitive" emotional reaction to an extremely difficult situation she was genuinely trapped in?
Unfortunately, we will never know :(
Regardless, she deserves our compassion - but so does the rest of the family deserve our compassion, for trying to find a balance between duty and love that perhaps doesn't exist, trying desperately to please ... us.
And lastly, there's Queen Elizabeth - the rock solid glue holding everybody together. If nothing else, the queen is consistent, and the rock for everybody else falling apart. In fact, I don't know how she does it.
I know everyone else was trained in the same way, but everyone else seems to at least publicly or privately emotionally stumbled a time or two, whether publicly or privately - but Elizabeth virtually never does, it's kind of amazing - and leaves you believing the crown likely fell on the right head - though had Edward not abdicated, it never would have :)
Those times we perceived her as cold were actually her trying to not make the story about herself, in fact - but she realized over time, doing so only actually increased the "cold and uncaring" perception of her rather than her just trying to stay out of the way.
That is not to say she never made mistakes - she has publicly claimed not visiting Aberfan sooner as being the single biggest regret of her life.
And she initially made remarks which did sound uncaring - but you know what I suspect was the real reason?
I think she knew she'd break and cry, and not be able to help herself - I think she feared losing control of her emotions for the world to see, with so many children dead?
Thus, I think this was part of a very important ongoing life lesson, for her - that there are times when it's appropriate to let down the guard and show emotion, the public may need that from you, to show your support.
I also think in her youth, she was of course new at it and very naive, and for a time, allowed the men around her to advise and tell her what to do - but after a time, after she felt she wasn't being told everything and realized her education on went so far and she had been mostly limited to certain queenly knowledge that others felt appropriate, she started taking up for herself and becoming more comfortable as queen - and so she decided to seek outside private education with university professors, while queen, mind you, so she could decide what she thought of issues herself and speak with any dignitary rather than changing the subject to polite chatter :)
I think people underestimated her, just as they did her father - both her intelligence and her willingness to get tough when need be, both of which she's hinted at showing, when the situation called for it, just like her father ended up doing.
I also think she's a very devoted Christian and student of Christ, in the true compassionate sense of the word - and I understand her to be very understanding to guests making deference and nervous mistakes when meeting her - that it wasn't ever her that judged and laughed at mistakes made in her presence, it was often other family members or the people around her or press that did.
In fact, apparently, she is the first to distract from these social gaffes by never showing on her face there was a mistake made, changing the subject with skill and grace, and making excuses for these mistakes by being very understanding nervous mistakes made in her presence - which is, IMO, a very kind thing to do :)
Is she clueless about what life is like for the common people?
I wouldn't say clueless - but she does have to be told, she wasn't raised like we were.
However, that doesn't automatically make her a snob, it makes her ignorant to what life is life for others, but willing to learn - and actually, she does have empathy and compassion, and she learns fast, appearing to have finally learned from even her own mistakes in times past :)
Her greatest lesson in life being, IMO, learning the balance between when it's appropriate to stand in the background and let others or the story shine out of nobility versus when they need you to see you feel - as well as the balance between following effective tradition and when it may be time to put dysfunctional traditions away, to make room for even better ones.
Regardless, in the end - they are people, just trying to get through this life and pandemic, just like us - but I, for one, appreciate this Queen's nod our way, acknowledging the inherent equalization in this situation :)