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Friday, April 17, 1998 Published at 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK


Author defends Diana criticism
image: [ Diana: accused of being self-indulgent and infantile ]
Diana: accused of being self-indulgent and infantile

A philosophy professor who branded Diana, Princess of Wales, as a muddled, self-obsessed woman who damaged the monarchy, her children and herself, has defended his criticisms.

Professor Anthony O'Hear defends his description of Diana
Anthony O'Hear said the Princess symbolised attitudes which were widespread in modern Britain.

He added: "The sort of attitudes I mean are the elevation of feeling over reason, self-expression over discipline, self esteem over objective duty.

"Above all, a sense of oneself as a victim, of not being responsible for what one is and what one has become."

"Faking It - The Sentimentalisation of Modern Society" denounces "fake Britain" which has abandoned reason in favour of cheap sentimentality.

The book is published on Friday by the right-wing think-tank, the Social Affairs Unit.

Editors Professor O'Hear and Anglican clergyman Peter Mullen depict a Britain where politics, arts, religion and even eating habits are dominated by self-indulgence and hollow emotion.

"Today's Britain is not 'modern', let alone `cool'. It is a fake society with fake institutions," write the editors.

"The society's defining moment was Princess Diana's funeral, in which sentimentality - mob grief - was personified and canonised, the elevation of feelings above reason, reality and restraint."

Friends and admirers of the princess have denounced the book, describing it as distasteful and inappropriate.

'Duty absent'

Professor O'Hear maintains Diana was a woman who "lacked understanding of her public role" and says that the rest of the Royal Family had to put up with her "childlike self-centredness".

[ image: The Princess was hounded by photographers]
The Princess was hounded by photographers
He writes: "In the Diana story, duty is a notion which is entirely absent."

He concedes that Diana did good through her charity work, but says even that was driven largely by sentimentality.

Reverend Mullen said: "She was self-indulgent and she believed the expression of one's feelings is the be-all and end-all.

"The fact is that Princess Diana did a great number of things that were very useful, but she was extremely self-indulgent and infantile.

"How else do you describe the behaviour of anyone who goes on hunger strike and throws herself down stairs - if she was a child of yours you would give her a smack."

Charities stand up for princess

Brigitte Marulli de Barletta, of homeless charity Centrepoint, insisted that Diana's emotion was genuine.

"The young people at Centrepoint were always really touched by her visits and by her genuine feelings for them. They certainly didn't think her concern was fake."

A spokesman for the British Red Cross also defended the princess and her support of the campaign to ban landmines.

"Diana was echoing what people all around the world, including landmine survivors from places like Bosnia and Cambodia, were saying."

Tory MP Peter Luff said: "The overwhelming majority of people will find his remarks distasteful and inappropriate. He would have been well advised to have kept his views to himself so soon after her death."


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