BBC Online Network BBC Homepage BBC News BBC Education BBC World Service
Diana - one year on Home Sights and Sounds Your thoughts Q & A Reporter's reflections Visit Althorp Contribute
Q and A
Monday
Jenny Bond

Jennie Bond has worked extensively with the Royal Family since 1989. She had a particularly close working relationship with Diana, Princess of Wales.
 
Back to Q and A Homepage
"I never claim to have been a friend of Diana but as a journalist who worked closely with her, we got on very well. I found Diana charming, shrewd, manipulative and at times infuriating. But I have to conclude that, for all her virtues and vices, she was essentially a force for good."

What did you see Diana do or say that made you think that she was "shrewd, manipulating and infuriating?
Sonia Di Marco, 29
Australia

Diana was often shrewd in the way she handled her own publicity. She knew she could upstage Prince Charles whenever she wanted - for example when she wore a stunning black cocktail dress at a reception on the evening that he admitted adultery on television.

She would also manipulate the media when she felt like it - for example the Andrew Morton book, with which she said she did not co-operate, but which turned out to be her story virtually in her own words.

She could also be infuriating because she was so volatile. And towards the end of her life, she chose to manage without a press or private secretary - which made life as a correspondent infuriating. She didn't realise that her presence in a country on a working visit caused such massive interest that things HAD to be organised properly and could not be left as a burden to the charities she was helping.

After having interviewed her and (perhaps) spoken with her at some length, how do you think she would have reacted to the outpouring of grief that accompanied her death?
(By the way - I've always been an ardent admirer of yours. Thank you for your wonderful work.)
Marie Fischer,35
St. Catharine's, Canada

I DID have a couple of lengthy conversations with the Princess at her home - and it's true that she was very low in self -esteem. So I think she would have been astonished at the public response to her death. I think she would have been touched by the children in particular, who left teddy bears, toys and cards outside the Palace. But I wonder if she wouldn't have preferred some of the money paid for flowers to have been given instead to the charities she worked for.

Do you think that by her early death, Diana accomplished more than if she had lived to a ripe old age?
R James, 35
California/USA

I know what you mean - that her premature death focused attention on all the good she did during her short life. But I think her real legacy is that she was a wonderful mother to two young boys. Had she lived, she would have accomplished a great deal more in guiding them through adolescence into the world beyond and the difficult roles they both have to fulfill.

Do you think Diana is an appropriate role model for young girls and women, particularly in Britain? (It seems to me she is a quintessential representative of the co-dependent woman whose very identity is derived from the men she is related to: husband, son, brother, father.)
Deborah Carter,30 New York, US

I think she hoped she was a new role model for royalty. She created a different way of carrying out royal duties - and brought an informality to them that was much appreciated by the public. She was less remote and more in touch with issues that affect the young, the homeless and the disadvantaged. She stood up and spoke out about the problem of bulimia; she went to see what it was like to sleep rough. She also refused to ignore the fact that her husband was having an affair - and had one of her own. She bucked the trend of royal wives - but I am not sure if it is appropriate to expect anyone in that strange and unique role to be a model for young girls and women.

What did Diana do that most other people, given similar time and resources, wouldn't?
William Howard, 31
San Diego, CA

As Earl Spencer said recently - Diana, in her privileged position - could simply have stayed in her Palace and eaten chocolates all day. But she threw herself into her charity work and felt she had a true vocation for helping people. She certainly wasn't a saint. She enjoyed her wealth and leisure as much as any other millionaire - but she DID take on causes that were far from fashionable ( AIDS) and controversial ( landmines) when she could have had an easier life. She also worked behind the scenes for people less fortunate than she was. In this she was not unique: The rest of the royal family work consistently for their charities in much the same way.

The adjectives you use to describe Diana, describe a normal human being; in fact, I often use those same words to characterise my young students. Do you think, then, that her "normality" made her someone to whom we could relate and with whom many could identify?
Martha J. Clark, 50
Goshen, Kentucky

Yes, I think her vulnerability, as much as anything else, made her seem so much more approachable than others in her position. But, frankly, her norm was far different from that of most us - she was probably the most famous woman in the world and that fact alone made every aspect of her life utterly different from yours or mine. But, when you met her, she was charming, unpretentious, articulate, funny and alarmingly open about her feelings. I think people could relate to her because she was so open. Nevertheless it would be hard to identify oneself with such a bizarre existence as hers.

Can you tell me why Britain seems to have forgotten that Charles confessed he was unfaithful to Diana and that according to newspapers in the Netherlands, the British people are suddenly fond of Charles and Camilla?
Anne-Mieke Heyman, 42
Netherlands

I don't think people have forgotten about the Prince's adultery, nor, indeed about Diana's although her admission caused surprisingly few repercussions. I find that many people still feel resentful about the way the prince treated Diana. However, he is now contending with his role as a single parent and most people seem to feel he is doing pretty well at it. His standing and popularity in this country is now higher than it has been for some years.

There is also a growing realisation that Camilla Parker Bowles is - as the Prince has said - a non-negotiable part of his life. People may be coming to feel that he will be a better King with the woman he has loved for 25 years at his side than without her. She has met the two young Princes - but has remained discreetly out of the limelight. I think it is an exaggeration to say the British people are fond of Charles and Camilla but I think more of us are beginning to accept that this is a very long-standing, loving relationship.

As the Princess once told me, Let's face it: Camilla is the love of Prince Charles's life".

Do you feel the Royal Family sincerely views Diana in a new favourable light or is simply playing a PR game?
Scooter Bond, 25
San Jose, California

In the year since her death, the Royal Family have had to assess the impact of Diana' s life - and the huge public response to her death. They would have been foolish to ignore the events of last year - when they admit it, things looked pretty nasty for them in the days immediately following her death. I think they genuinely want the monarchy to continue changing. They say it MUST keep in tune with the people and MUST show that it has a positive contribution to make to the life of the nation. And they accept that Diana had a way of doing things that broadly pleased the British people - and that there are ways in which they can learn from her example.

Don't you think Prince Charles deserves a better press? (Anybody who wants to tear down those horrible modern buildings can't be all bad.)
James Derry, 46
Courtenay, Canada

Prince Charles must be delighted by the press he has recently received. His popularity is as high as the Prime Minister's. His image has softened, he gets roars of applause when he appears in public and most people agree that he seems more relaxed and at peace with himself. Diana's death left him wracked with despair and guilt but he has emerged from that as a focused individual, concentrating first on his two young sons, and then on his work - including his love of architecture!