Thursday, February 19, 2009

Royal Gold Diggers

Being under the weather recently, I dragged myself to the library in search of light reading. I found Charlotte Hays' The Fortune Hunters.

I hope my readers will not be irritated at hearing a little more gossip to the detriment of the late Princess of Wales. Since I have always refused to read the articles about her and for years have used my TV as a viewing screen for the old movies I rented, the things I've learned about her in certain books I've recently read, the essays by respectable authors such as Theodore Dalrymple and Florence King, and the blogs of my esteemed fellow monarchists, have all been news to me. But I've heard so many silly irritating people fawn on Diana that I feel avenged whenever I learn more to her discredit. Please, bear with me.

This book's chapter on Diana confirms what I suspected: that her charitable work was just a way to get attention and upstage the royal family. I do concede that she did some actual good work, inspiring donations to many worthy causes, and I doubt that those who benefited care about her motivations. Which is a good thing, because her motivations don't seem to have been very creditable.

Miss Hays reveals that Diana suggested to her secretary Patrick Jephson that they go to Calcutta to visit Mother Teresa for Christmas. Mother Teresa requested that instead Diana visit her order's alcohol rehabilitation center in London. When Mr. Jephson relayed this news to her, he reports in his book, "there was a long, hurt, and unloved silence at the other end of the line". She never did visit the rehab center.

Miss Hays also mentions that a newspaper printed a card that one could cut out and keep in one's wallet: "In the event of an accident I do not wish to be visited by the Princess of Wales." The book also explains, "In becoming, in effect, a movie star, the princess brought the monarchy down to a level heretofore unimaginable." No wonder crass modern people love her.

There is also a very good chapter about Wallis Simpson, and now I finally feel that I understand her story. It was a love story - on the part of Edward VIII. Mrs. Simpson was after the largest coup in the history of gold diggers, as revenge on the world for the humiliation of having grown up poor. Miss Hays perceptively sums up how the American divorcée overplayed her hand: "Mrs. Simpson was depending on a man who was so besotted with love that he would do anything to marry her. She lost control of him because of the intensity of her hold over him."

Poor Mrs. Simpson was appalled when she discovered that instead of a king, she was getting a mere duke. She likely would have preferred to be the mistress of the king than a duchess. In fact, when it began to become apparent that she would not be able to become queen, Mrs. Simpson tried to break off the relationship - she was probably rather bored with her lover at that stage. But having been cast in the public's imagination as the woman for whom a man gave up a throne, she had little choice but to stick with him.

Thus go two of the alleged great fairy tales of the twentieth century.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I think you were a bit harsh. Diana's secretary commented on a book he wrote about Diana that he was rather upset and angry with her when he wrote it. He now claims he should have waited until he could be more objective. He and Diana's protection officer both state that Diana frequently went to Centerpoint and to shelters when no reporters were present because she didn't want the press involved. She even took her sons on some of these excursions and the reporters never knew it.
I agree that Diana received lots of press but if that is all she was after, she would have informed the press on the many nightly shelter visits. She especially would have informed them of the ones that included taking her sons.