The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown · Century, 481 pp, £18.99
Diana by Sarah Bradford · Penguin, 443 pp, £7.99
I had supper with a friend on 31 August 1997. He arrived looking wonderstruck. ‘Are we just going to have dinner?’ he said.
‘Why, you think we should sit shiva?’
‘But if she can die then anyone can.’
I don’t think anyone else ever got around to articulating that quite so precisely.
One friend spent the day of the funeral in his study, locked away from the world, reading Civilisation and Its Discontents. Others I knew wandered around the flower carpet outside Kensington Palace, spying and sniffing the air to gauge whether sentimentality and hysteria actually might achieve what neo-Marxian analysis had failed to do in the 1960s and 1970s. Not being a great one for crowds, I stayed at home with the TV on, just watching and wondering at the events of that week, which really were strange on a scale beyond anything I’d encountered. Some months later, I saw a documentary made on the day of the funeral, in which a bag lady was asked for her opinion on the death of the Princess of Wales: ‘Oh, she’s died has she? I wondered why there were so many people about.’...
The rest of this article on the latest Princess Diana books is available online at the LRB site. Subscribers only, I'm afraid.