‘Terrible disservice’ Diana’s life should not focus on ‘sum of woes’ – expert hits out

Princess Diana: Prince Harry ‘following in footsteps’ says pundit

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Spencer was premiered at the Venice film festival on Friday and is set over a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana celebrated Christmas at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. Directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain, the film fantasies about what may have occurred behind closed doors as Prince Charles and Diana spent the festive season with the Royal Family as their turbulent marriage hit the rocks.

The drama depicts three December days in 1991 and focuses on the couple’s decision to end their marriage and portrays the Princess of Wales as a misfit from the rest of the royals.

Hollywood actress Kristen Stewart will play Diana in the movie and described the plot as a “true unravelling.”

Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter expects the movie to scoop some of the top awards, but raised concerns of the film following in the footsteps of other dramas which have focused on the negative aspects of Diana’s whirlwind story.

Ms Arbiter acknowledged there is “no denying she endured a tumultuous life”, but highlighted several inspirational moments which are often overseen.

She cites Diana shaking the hand of a hospital patient with AIDS without any gloves on in April 1987.

And 10 years later walking through a landmine site in Angola.

Writing in Australia’s 9Honey, Ms Arbiter said: “Given Larraín’s exceptional talents, Spencer will undoubtedly do well, and yet movie goers are likely to be subjected to the type of Diana-centric misery-fest that has become all too familiar terrain.

“Rather than inspiring youngsters with images of a strong, independent woman walking through recently cleared landmine fields, holding hands with AIDS patients or embracing a fresh start, storytellers continue to obsessively fetishise the poor-me narrative Diana surely would have loathed.

“From her traumatic childhood to the public breakdown of her marriage, there’s no denying she endured a tumultuous life.

“Nonetheless, we do her a terrible disservice by reducing her memory to the sum of her woes especially when one considers all she’d achieved.”

The royal expert added Diana would have liked to be remembered as a “playful, loving mother, survivor and humanitarian”.

In the film, Diana is constantly late for dinner, often leaves the table abruptly to be sick due to a secret eating disorder, and grows frustrated as Palace staff keep telling her what to do.

The royals are referred to as “they” or “them”, and Diana only briefly speaks to the Queen or Prince Charles, preferring instead to confide in her dresser or the cook.

In one scene, Diana says she feels like an insect being dissected under the microscope, both referring to photographers outside and her minders inside the Palace.

Ms Arbiter also stressed the film is not a biopic, but claimed that “won’t stop people from twisting the narrative to reinforce their negative views of the monarchy or using it as a means to unfairly judge Diana”.

Speaking at the premier, Ms Stewart said: “The movie doesn’t offer any new information. It doesn’t profess to know anything. It imagines a feeling.


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“I think my impression can only be my own. But Diana was a woman who wanted people to come together and I think that this movie’s ambition is to bridge gaps.

“I think if anyone ever made a movie about me, I wouldn’t feel like it was… I wouldn’t feel stolen from or taken from. There’s nothing salacious about our intention, I think that would be probably more embedded in interpretation.”

Describing the rules of royal life she had to learn, she said: “We had royal advisers, we had people to tell us all the things that you couldn’t know as an as an outsider.

“The stage that we depict in the film is a true unravelling.”
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