• Diana: The time I got it completely and utterly wrong!


    Twenty years ago today, Diana, Princess of Wales died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash (the wrecked car above) in Paris.

    It was over twelve years later that the British Gazette was resurrected as an online publication.

    In the days that followed, I and my parents were both completely gob-smacked, to use a current phrase, by the extraordinary public reaction.

    All three of us found it completely unreal and preposterous.

    As the mass of flowers piled up at the gates of Kensington Palace and literally, well over a million apparently grief-stricken people stood around publicly crying on the streets of the capital city, I formed the mistaken opinion that serious constitutional change would flow and that we could in fact be looking at the ending of the monarchy after the reign of Elizabeth II.

    You see, the perceived conventional wisdom was that if nearly two million ordinary citizens stage a spontaneous protest on the streets of a capital city then things change.

    I was of course completely and utterly wrong! They didn’t.

    I remember the late Sir Ludovic Kennedy saying that his generation remembered where they were and what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Friday, 22nd November, 1963. Since JYK was shot at 12:30PM Dallas time I can confidently say that I was in bed asleep. However, I do remember the picture of the scene below but in black and white as I saw it on our black and white Phillips TV.For Diana, I was in the same place: Bed. It was 7:00AM on Monday morning – when the BBC News reported her death.

    The public funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales took place on Saturday 6th September 1997. I do remember that day. Millions were glued to their TV screens. This meant that the streets were strangely quiet!

    People, ordinary members of the public, seemed to be grief-stricken for someone who was, notwithstanding being a public figure, was to them a stranger they had never met!

    Following the funeral BBC Radio Leeds held a telephone phone in and people were well making the most extraordinary spectacle of themselves. I was a frequent contributor on these phone ins they being generally of a topical current affairs nature. Thus when the call staff got me on the line, an intelligent and articulate “regular”, I was soon on air. The presenter Liz Green knew me (telephonic-ally) quite well and greeted me with “It’s Peter from Moortown.”

    At that point I paused. Liz was somewhat surprised as being a regular I would normally jump straight in with no pause. The reason for the pause was that I changed my mind as to what I was going to say. I was going to say was that I felt the open display of grief from so many people on the streets and also some of the contributors to this programme are completely over the top and self indulgent wallowing in grief in some perverse form of psychological masochism. However, I stopped myself. Instead I thought quickly on my feet and commented about Earl Spencer’s address in St. Pauls. I said that the speech would reverberate down the generations. I was of course completely wrong. It did not and did not deserve to.

    Twenty years later the nation is still set to be a monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II.
    The twentieth anniversary reminds us that we can and do get things completely wrong.

    I hope I’ve got it completely wrong about Brexit. I hope that the cheerful optimism of UKIP’s Chairman of the St. Ives and the Isles of Scilly branch is borne out on Monday 1st April 2019 (April Fool’s Day).

    What I do think is that UKIP’s Chairman will agree with me that Friday 29th March 2019 will be a historic day and one Sir Ludovic Kennedy would have classed as a day on which you will remember where you were.

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