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Queen of (some) hearts

Adam Alexander
"A nation united in grief." "The death of a decade." "A billion goodbyes." That was how the media described the mood in the week leading up to Diana's funeral last August. But that was only half the story.

In filming our documentary The Princess's People, we at Mosaic Films discovered something that is now attracting huge attention around the world: The nation was not united in grief.

We don't deny that many people were affected by Diana's death. It is incontestable that millions flocked to present flowers and line the funeral route and that millions more watched the funeral on TV.

But in filming across England in the days after Diana's death, our 12 film-makers learned that there were many motives for joining the crowd and a wide array of emotions at play.

Our film, The Princess's People, shows a wide range of emotions. In fact, in commissioning the film, our briefing note expressly stated, "We seek to impose no vision, only to discover what is there."

What was there was not simple. People wept, applauded and threw flowers at the hearse. But there were also people who took snapshots and enjoyed the day out, socialising in the pubs, arguing and expressing many different opinions.

"It was a fantastic weekend. I'd pay double to do it again. I've got history on tape," said one woman. A drinker in a pub in Bedminster, a working class Bristol suburb, did not agree. "I didn't expect to see it on in this pub," he said, stabbing a finger towards the television screen in the corner. "I came here to get away from the f******* funeral."

While many people evidently and genuinely wanted to pay their last respects, many others were tourists enjoying a great event, or were people who wanted to see and be part of a bit of history, or were just plain curious.

Undoubtedly some will say, "Ah yes but you skewed the film by your selection." Well, all editing is to do with selection and we are only showing 75 minutes from the 68 hours that was shot, but we believe we have been fair and representative.

It is true that we were keen to show those aspects that the rest of the media have wilfully ignored, but we make a point of also showing the aspects that are well-known already. Those who want to claim that our programme is an attack on the feelings of all those moved and affected by Diana's death, will be disappointed. If our film attacks anything, it is the idea that something as complex as the public reaction to the Princess's death can be neatly packaged in phrases like 'United in grief'.

One thing is certain. The way the media covered the event was far from representative. For a short while we forgot to question. Instead we latched on to a very one-dimensional reaction to the tragedy of Diana's death.

We don't live in a country where we all have to think and feel the same thing. So it's surely about time we acknowledge the fact, as one viewer does in the film Even Diana Doesn't Matter to Everybody.