The pop cultural obsession with Princess Diana’s innocence, explained -By Constance Grady (VOX) / Nov 25 2020
Why we’re still talking about Princess Diana in 2020.
Fame is a dragon. We feed it with virgin sacrifices. And was there ever a virgin sacrifice like Princess Diana?
From the moment that Diana first appears on Netflix’s The Crown, a gawky 16-year-old tiptoeing away from Prince Charles with her supermodel face peeping out from behind a schoolgirl’s costume mask, a thread of electricity runs into the show: Ah, at last, there she is. There is Princess Diana, who will win over a nation, rend the Windsors apart, and die young and beautiful and tragic. We’ve been waiting for her.
We’ve been waiting for Diana to show up and liven things up with scandal. And most importantly, we’ve been waiting for her to die. Her death is built into the structure of the show, the moment we’ve all been waiting for it to catch up to. What, after all, was the 2006 film The Queen — written by The Crown showrunner Peter Morgan and taking place in the days after the car accident that killed Diana — if not a statement of intention that her death is the moment that must be the inevitable climax of The Crown?
So The Crown lingers on the foreknowledge of that moment with exquisite care. It features shot after shot of her slipping into the back seat of a black Mercedes like the one she died in; shot after shot of the paparazzi coming in too close, just as they did on the night she died. The Crown has been laying out a seven-course meal for seasons now, and Diana and her death are the entree.
There must be something about Diana’s story that is very appealing to us, because we repeat it so often. Not just in tellings and retellings about Diana herself, but in the stories of other virgin sacrifices, other famous women who match the Diana archetype.