Diana and the Media


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CyrilVladisla

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What would you say that the newspapers did for Princess Diana?
 
They, and magazines, gave her world-wide publicity, helped build her into a world phenomenon, obviously. She gave them tremendous copy and, in a pre-Internet world, newspapers sold. Newspapers with news of Diana at an engagement in a new hat, dress, gown, with a new hairstyle, sold particularly well.

However, Diana played favourites among Royal correspondents and that reverberated on her sometimes. She also played games, retracted, denied, sometimes lied to the media, never a good idea. She always felt, IMO, that she was much more media savvy than she really was. She thought she could control the Press and you can't, as other members of the BRF have found to their cost.

In the last year or so of her life Press criticism of her grew.
No-one stays on the top for ever and I think the public had started to become tired of the increasingly tawdry nature of the War of the Wales's, not all Diana's fault, mind you. The media sniffed the prevailing winds and reacted accordingly. The criticism would have probably continued, but then Diana died, and that changed everything.
 
Everyone lies to the Meida, but I think the problem with Diana was that she did it very blatantly. She did seem to forget that she'd said things.. and as we've both said, she thougt she was more savvy at handling them than she really was. She thought that they loved her, but what they loved was a story...
They didn't care whether the story was favourable or not...
and doing something like Panorama, where she went out and said things like she was having an affair etc put her on a limb. She didn't seem to realise that she could not realy retract something she had very openly "put out there." She seemed shocked that the queen ordered a divorce, not seeming to realise that when she had put out the story that her marriage was hell and that C didn't love her and that he was involved iwht someone else and that she herself had had a lover, you cant go back then and say "All the same, I don't want a divorce..I still want to be with him/part of the RF."
Had she not said anything so blatantly, I think the RF could have stared down the rumours, and just said (even after Morton), that C and DI had had a few problems but they were making a new start.. but Charles I think and the RF were disgusted by her having been so disloyal and didn't trust her and so it was nearly imposisible or him to play "good husband" in public (and Diana could no longer act either)..
 
Would you say that the unrelenting pressure of having to appear in public and be gracious to a press corps wore Princess Diana down?
 
I don't know that Diana was always 'gracious' to the Press Corps, was she? I think that when some of them felt they had her in their back pocket she would then turn around and deny an exclusive she'd previously given them. Some of them she quite disliked. She got a lot of Press criticism, some of it merited, in her last year of life after she ceased to be a protected Royal.

I think a lot of things wore Diana down. Primarily her married life with Charles and their relationship. There were probably several occasions a month when she would much rather have been with her boys (before they went off to boarding school) than performing a Royal engagement. In general, though, I think she got a real recharge to her batteries by meeting others and by being with members of the public and feeling their love.
 
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Would you say that the unrelenting pressure of having to appear in public and be gracious to a press corps wore Princess Diana down?

No - from day 1 she loved the attention.

The mistake she made was that she thought she could control the media while they, in reality, were always in control.
 
Would that period of loving the Press and public attention from the first day have included the bursting into tears at a polo match under the strain of it all, when Diana was engaged? Or that first tour of Wales she undertook at twenty, where she was so terrified of the huge crowds she sobbed in fright in the car before different engagements, while Charles and others tried to reassure her?
 
What would you say that the newspapers did for Princess Diana?
They gave her an opportunity to bring a focus on interests that were important to her ie: land mines, AIDs etc...
 
They gave her an opportunity to bring a focus on interests that were important to her ie: land mines, AIDs etc...

She certainly did that.

But there was also the "War of the Waleses" element going on. On both sides.
 
The War of the Wales's was a very late 1980s and 1990's phenomenon though. Charles and Diana were married in 1981. She began charity work and causes that were important to her, like children's hospices, quite early in her marriage. Of course we know now what went on privately but the British Press wanted in large part to preserve the fairy tale for many years.

AFAIR Tina Brown's article 'The mouse that Roared' in Vanity Fair, inferring that Diana was a woman of steel who was running Charles's life, sacking his staff etc, was the first sign that any journalist wanted to break the mould, and that was in 1986, I believe. Lots of journalists, as they do when any one of them publishes a talking point article, rubbished it. These journalists had built up the fantasy since 1981 of a love story and fairytale wedding followed by a wonderful marriage and two adorable children, and IMO no-one wanted to tear this down until the truth was just not able to be ignored any longer.

Journalists on British papers in the 1980s were, naturally, usually British and of course a product of their background. Some of them may have been republican, several were cynical about things, but a lot of them (and several said so later) both fed the fairy tale to the public and in the early years at least, partially believed it themselves. They weren't used, before 1981, to divorces among senior royals and probably took it for granted, just as Diana did when she married, that no Prince of Wales would ever separate and divorce.
 
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Would that period of loving the Press and public attention from the first day have included the bursting into tears at a polo match under the strain of it all, when Diana was engaged? Or that first tour of Wales she undertook at twenty, where she was so terrified of the huge crowds she sobbed in fright in the car before different engagements, while Charles and others tried to reassure her?

Agree, I dont think she really liked the attention that much in many ways. I think that gradually she realised that she had a way with the public and especialy as her marriage got worse, she did get some emotional satisfaction from the affection showed to her by ordinary people. And I think she grew to enjoy doing engagements, and being a help to various people. But I think she'd rather have spent more time at home wit her children and had a happier marriage, than been loved by the Press or the public.

Would you say that the unrelenting pressure of having to appear in public and be gracious to a press corps wore Princess Diana down?

why woudl that particularly "wear her down"? Of course she was usually polite to the Press and in general in her public life. Why would that wear her down? what wore her down was the endless attention, and her private problems which Im sure upset her a lot more than the press did.

She may have enjoyed press attention, sometimes but to be always called for, begged to "look this way Di so I can get a picture and send my kids to a better school", and not being able ot go anywhere without fearing the press were after her, not being able to trust people because she feared they were talking to the press..
Or in later years called a whore by the press to get her to react, and cry....
 
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The exceptions were Nigel Dempster and James Whitaker. Dempster was the one who described Diana as a "fiend and a monster" as early as 1982. I heard an interview with James Whitaker on "As It Happens", a Canadian current- affairs program on CBC Radio. He spoke then about suspicions of Diana having anorexia and the possibility of it being caused by trouble in the marriage.


Charles and Diana were married in 1981. She began charity work and causes that were important to her, like children's hospices, quite early in her marriage. Of course we know now what went on privately but the British Press wanted in large part to preserve the fairy tale for many years.
 
In the 1980s there was a huge amount of commercial competition between the various major publishing companies and Royal gossip was a major selling point in this period. Compiled with a cultural shift that started in the 1960s, press deference was no longer a factor that could be relied on. A lot of the war of the Waleses was really a massive failure of media management by the RF as well as he fact that PC not D was the one they could not control. And in the long run he was he one who really did the damage. If it had just been D bleating to the red tops on her own than both her and C than D would have eventually gone the way of Fergie and her mother Frances. It was PCs decision to jump into the bear pit that was the clincher.

Ben Pimlotts bio of the Queen has a lot about this. Do read.
 
Would you say that Princess Diana resented the press speculation about her marriage?
 
I agree with the majority of the posters. Diana was naive in that she thought she was savvy enough to deal with the press and could handle it. During the War of the Wales she had her favorite journalists that she confided in about the state of her marriage and struggles with Charles, notably Richard Kay of the DM plus Andrew Morton the author of her book. Diana had a rather love-hate relationship with James Whitaker from before the engagement on.
I think she finally realized that the press can love you and viciously turn on you in a heartbeat. I remember early in the marriage, it had to be after William's birth, the Wales were on a skiing trip and Diana had a minor tantrum and refused to cooperate with the press for a photo op even despite Charles gently coaxing her. Soon after, the press started running stories accusing Diana of extravagant spending and lengthy shopping trips while questioning just how many royal appearances she was actually performing. Of course, later in the year Diana was back in the spotlight and she was in the good graces with the press.
It's true that the last year of her life Diana was again receiving some criticism from the press especially when on the vacation in France. The press was openly asking when she would return from her prolonged vacation and resume her charitable work. For Diana the press was always somewhat of a necessary evil. She didn't like the constant attention and prying, who would?, but she needed the press to highlight the social causes that were important to her.
 
Any royal has up and down coverage. The press woudl never give unconditonal approval to any figure, why shoudl they? So she was criticised at times and at times, the press ran postive stories for a long time but there were inevitably times when there were negative ones. but overall, she had very positive coverage for much of her married life.
 
Oh yes. The two instances I wrote about are the only times I can remember of some negative press coverage Diana had. The press coverage was overwhelmingly positive throughout all her time.
 
Oh there were other times. What SOME Americans dont seem to realise is that the Press is there to sell newspapers, not to back the RF and that royal reportage isn't considered a very high ranking profession.. It is very difficult to get stories becuase the RF & ther circle generaly dotn tell you much, and hate the Press....so there's a lot of "unsourced quotes" or downright making up.
And undiluted postiive coverage woudl bore the public, so there are bound to be negative stories in and out of the positive ones.
And there were journalists, mostly female ones, who plain old didn't like Diana and were critical of her,
So yes there was a fair bit of criticism by times but overall, thte Press I think DID give Diana a lot of support, and through the war of the Waleses, they mostly backed her rather than Charles. And I think that some of the older journalists were fond of Diana, having followed her form her girlhood, and seen her growing up into her royal life and not being very happy. I think they had an affection for her and were shocked at her death.. but even so, they would not refrain from criticism at times.
And when she lost weight so much, they were keen to find out what the story was, why she was so thin, so Whittaker did find out about Anorexia and hinted that she might be suffering from it.
Of course there was still deference to the RF and so they were careful about breaking the story of the problems in the marriage, and publishing the tapes of Charles with Camilla or Diana talking to Gilbey....
And I think that yes they DID sort of believe the fairytale at first themselves and although I think problems were visible even early on, they didn't make too much of them.
It was more inclined to be foreign paparrazzi who were abusive to her, and chased her scarily, to get a picture (not always there were Englsih ones too.)...
 
Did Diana have any idea that her position as The Princess of Wales would be followed as thoroughly by the media?
 
:previous: Of course not. Charles was the "star" of the BRF when Diana married him so she expected to get attention as his wife, and she got considerable attention as his girlfriend and fiance. But when things really kicked in Diana and her image became an industry in and of itself and far surpassed the considerable attention that Charles got as a bachelor prince.
 
:previous: Of course not. Charles was the "star" of the BRF when Diana married him so she expected to get attention as his wife, and she got considerable attention as his girlfriend and fiance. But when things really kicked in Diana and her image became an industry in and of itself and far surpassed the considerable attention that Charles got as a bachelor prince.

Its hard to say. I dotn think she expected such crazy attention and admiration. At 19 or 20, I don't think she had any idea of the magic quality she had of attracitng the public and the camera "loving her". I think she felt that whatever attention she got would be as C's Princess, and a bit to do with her own looks and her own manner with the public.
Se said in her Martin Bashir interview that she was told that the attention would calm down after she was married, ro then after she had had a baby or 2.. (I may not be remembering exactly), but the idea being that it would cool down in a few years. But it didn't. And later on, she got more sophisticated at charming the public and the press and using her looks and charm deliberatley to win over the public, and push Charles out of the limelight...
 
Did Diana have any idea that her position as The Princess of Wales would be followed as thoroughly by the media?

Absolutely not, because the sheer intensity of attention to her was like nothing that had come before. Not all because of her, mind you.

There were some really big changes in media ownership, tabloid saturation, etc. that roughly coincided with her entry into the royal family. One of the big factors was the Australian Rupert Murdoch buying publications on multiple continents and pushing them to aggressively cover lighter, more gossipy subjects. His success selling those issues created more intense focus on them from his competitors, as well, and his getting the most bang for his buck by sharing stories among his publications in various countries pushed gossipy stuff to be more international (not that it only British readers were interested in the BRF before, but there hadn’t been quite the saturation outside of the UK). And then, just as that new tabloid era was really hitting an ultracompetitive stage, she was introduced. The tabloids were in an arms race and here was this pretty blank slate of a royal fiancée for them to just run with and take advantage of, so they did to an unprecedented degree.

I really don’t think anyone could have anticipated the level of hysteria that sprung up around her because it was the result of a “perfect storm” of circumstances that hadn’t happened before and won’t likely happen again. And I think one of the (many) rifts between her and the rest of the BRF is that they looked at the changing media behavior and adjusted their engagement with reporters into a more locked-down, controlled mode while she instead adopted a method of trying to utilize the attention for good (and, as things broke down more and more, to use it for herself), which only ramped up the interest even more.

But no royal bride prior to her had experienced that crushing level of interest. So how could anyone have anticipated that she would?
 
The first criticism of Diana that I remember was in 1982, although I do remember a story that came out on her honeymoon about killing a stag and yelling at Prince Charles because she really didn't want to be out shooting.

Tina Brown's Vanity Fair article came out some time before Charles and Diana's Tour of the USA in 1985. After that article was published, they did the televised interview with Alastair Burnett in an effort to speak against it and other negative stories that were in the press.


AFAIR Tina Brown's article 'The mouse that Roared' in Vanity Fair, inferring that Diana was a woman of steel who was running Charles's life, sacking his staff etc, was the first sign that any journalist wanted to break the mould, and that was in 1986, I believe.
 
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if she killed a stag why would she be "yelling at Charles that she didn't want to be out shooting?" doesn't seem to make sense..
and was she being criticised for shootng a stag or for yelling at Charles>?
 
if she killed a stag why would she be "yelling at Charles that she didn't want to be out shooting?" doesn't seem to make sense..
and was she being criticised for shootng a stag or for yelling at Charles>?

The story was that she wasn't keen to kill the stag, that she felt Charles pressured her into doing it, thus the outburst.

Mermaid1962, your post reminded me of those days so much, perfect synopsis. There was a time in the beginning where Diana got lots of criticism, from firing staff to getting rid of Charles' lab Harvey. Charles and HM had to intervene with the press at one point iirc.
 
:previous: The Queen met with newspaper editors late in 1981. I can't remember whether it was her Press Secretary or Private Secretary who spoke to them first. Then HM arrived and chatted with them informally. Well, as informal as the Queen gets in those situations. :flowers:
 
:previous: The Queen met with newspaper editors late in 1981. I can't remember whether it was her Press Secretary or Private Secretary who spoke to them first. Then HM arrived and chatted with them informally. Well, as informal as the Queen gets in those situations. :flowers:

That wasn't because of criticism of Diana, rather the contrary. It was because the Press were so interested in Di, that she was feeling pressured by their constalty being around...
 
The story was that she wasn't keen to kill the stag, that she felt Charles pressured her into doing it, thus the outburst.

Mermaid1962, your post reminded me of those days so much, perfect synopsis. There was a time in the beginning where Diana got lots of criticism, from firing staff to getting rid of Charles' lab Harvey. Charles and HM had to intervene with the press at one point iirc.
I've heard very various reports about the stag... so who knows what the truth is.
And from what I can remember about the story breaking, it was a bit of a shcok to the public that Diana might take part in blood sports.. so there was criticism of her for that. But I don't remember any story of her "yelling at Charles because he pressured her to do it." It sounds unlikely that he would do that.
She got a bit of criticism for firing staff etc, but that was more the occasional bad story that every royal gets when the "Oh how wonderful she is" mood wears off a bit...By and large her press coverage in the first years was pretty much Postive.. she could do very little wrong...
 
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