In the opening pages, Christopher Andersen’s After Diana: William, Harry, Charles, and the Royal House of Windsor describes the moments after the fatal crash on August 31, 1997. He then moves on to detail the events in the ensuing years, providing a portrait of a woman, her sons, and the monarchy as it moved into the twenty-first century.
Occasionally moving backward into the years when Shy Di first burst upon the scene, we come to see a “fleshed out” picture of the woman who would forever change the royals in subtle ways.
Their mother’s tragic and much-publicized death came at a time when her two sons were very vulnerable to her loss. Approaching adolescence, the heightened visibility of their lives “after” resulted in much tabloid footage that showed them each, but especially Harry, as “spoiled party animals.”
Without their mother’s influence, and with the kind of detached parenting provided by Prince Charles, the Heir and the Spare did go through a lot during those years. But as time passed, and as they gained some maturity, there was evidence of her imprint, in that “both William and Harry were taking on many of the causes she had championed, and finding some of their own.”
I enjoyed this chronicle of life in the royal family, and how Diana’s influence still lingers. I also liked discovering a bit more about Camilla than I had previously known. She worked hard to overcome being the “most hated woman in England” after Diana’s death.
Since this book was published in 2007, much in recent history was obviously uncovered. However, there were already hints of the William and Kate coupling…which was fun to see in its beginning stages.
In the end, I liked this summing up, when describing Diana in her final conscious moments: “…What would she (Diana) have thought if, by some miracle, she could have opened her eyes ten years later? True, it would have been hard to see Camilla replace her as a Princess of Wales destined to become Queen—harder still to see Camilla step into the role of stepmother to her two boys.
“There is much about the changed world of the royals, however, that almost certainly would have pleased Diana. The Princess had fought to humanize the monarchy, to replace frosty hauteur with self-deprecating laughter, aloofness with compassion, and soul-deadening inertia with change. As history’s renegade Princess, she paid a heavy price for trying to drag the Royal Family, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first century. Diana was betrayed by her husband, ostracized by the Royal Family, spied upon by powers both foreign and domestic, and hounded by the same voracious media that had made her the world’s most idolized human being.”
Between the beginning and the end of this book, there were also wonderfully entertaining details about the daily lives and rituals of the royals. Totally captivating, and worth four stars.