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                                   A Mother to All     
     Map of Wales                                              Map of Wales

            Motherhood is more than a biological connection.  Mothers can nurture a person, a community, a religion, an era, or even a country.  Often enough, their impact is overlooked because it is normally limited to a select group of people.  But it is fairly safe to say that most people can identify a motherly figure in their lives.  Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales, allowed people all over the world to see what a loving mother has to offer.  Was she really as motherly as the media portrayed her?  Did her spot in the limelight undermine her role in her own children’s lives?  Was Princess Diana all that a reader could find in books and magazines?  Should she have devoted more time to being a mother to the princes  than to being a media icon?  In order to analyze her nurturing characteristics, and recognize the natural motherly love that Diana showed the world, this essay examines her depiction in the media to determine her roles in both her own children’s lives and the lives of the people that she touched.

            In Diana’s eyes, William and Harry, her children, came first.  She would often bring them when traveling overseas for visits or even to interviews with the media.  If at points she seemed distracted, it was most likely because she was looking for them, always keeping a careful watch over her own blood. (Corry 34).  She recognized that she had a duty to serve the people but also knew that there was “‘a more important thing, being a wife and mother.’” (Corry 34).  Since her personal life was so public, this is also very obvious.  Diana is often pictured with her children and was known never to miss a birthday or a holiday.  Many biographies about her life contain a chapter devoted to her children or how she acted with them.  This seems easy enough for the average mother, but it is safe to say that Diana took on more than most mothers did.  Between her royal duties and the time that she pledged to many different organizations, she had more than two sons to look after.

            Even when Diana’s marriage was falling apart, she still had every intention of keeping her family together: this can be seen in Diana’s opposition to the divorce.  She put family life before her own happiness.  “‘What about the children?’ she said. ‘Our boys – that’s what matters’” (Wallace 64).  This was definitely made apparent when “Diana reportedly had an alternative practitioner put a skin patch on Harry to help him externalize his feelings after the divorce” (Hubbard).  This patch prevents chest pain and relaxes the blood vessels to the heart.  Diana did not want her son to be as hurt as she was from this divorce.  Because of his young age and his vulnerability to being traumatized by this divorce, she took precautionary methods in order to prevent any lasting affects.  She also attempted to raise her children to be unpretentious in order to enable them to lead a normal life.  She would often mention her children in interviews or include them in photo shoots to emphasize her strong role in their lives.  A mother’s love knows no bounds.  Diana’s love was spread throughout her extended family and the whole world.  She had seventeen godchildren (“The Royal Family”).  This further proves that Diana had the ideal motherly instinct.  She encompassed all characteristics of a mother, including love and tenderness.  Who else would not only partake in their immediate family’s lives but also people outside of her immediate family?

            Whether the spotlight focused on Diana’s personal traits or not, she has many qualities of a stereotypical mother.  Being there for her children was not enough.  Diana expanded her role to reach as many people as she could.  Between being “a patron of organizations including the Royal School for the Blind and the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children” (Thomas, 32), and visiting unfortunate, sick, or disabled children, Diana was always looking for someone to love.  Much media coverage deals with the programs that she was affiliated with.  Although much of her time was focused on these victims, she was never selective about whom she reached out to: “‘Speaking out’, said Diana, was a way to reassure ‘the people that matter to me – the man on the street – because that’s what matters more than anything.’” (Wallace 64).  The beauty in this is that Diana never analyzed who needed love or why, but she just was concerned that it would bring him or her comfort.  Unfortunately, her time was mainly focused on the suffering, but balancing royal life and outreach is difficult to do.

            Diana never shunned anyone.  She did a considerable amount of work with landmine victims, and in the course of her work met a spiritual thinker, Sri Chinmoy. The two kept in touch through letters, and he was deeply moved by her kind heart.  Because of her compassion, he called her “the Lord’s breath.”  Sri Chinmoy has also stated, “‘Princess Diana gave us her heart-garden, which was so beautiful and so inspiring. That is why she will always be remembered as the unparalleled Queen of the universal heart.’” (Sri Chinmoy).  This only further illustrates how much good Diana showed the world.  Although she had many responsibilities and hardships to deal with, she was still emotionally available to whoever needed her.           

            Often enough, someone in the media is idolized by their fans.  Diana, along with other famous deceased people including Elvis, has cult followings, consisting of those who “wish to seek solace in the memory of Diana – and derive strength from her memory to continue with their lives” (Harrison 242).  It is unimaginable to have so much of an influence over people.  Her memory has been made to live on.  A set of stamps that went on sale shortly after her death in to commemorate Diana’s life were produced and have been elaborated and reprinted.  These stamps can be seen as a metaphor for Diana’s impact.  Her reach stretched over the entire world, knowing no boundaries.  (“Feb 3 Diana stamps on sale”).  Also, she has a set of porcelain plates that have sold out, year after year.  There have been four types made, the most popular being “The People’s Princess” (Ezimerchant Professional).  Most depictions of Diana are portraits because she was seen by the world as a beautiful leader all on her own.  She was a dominant woman, who by herself, made the difference.  Also, sometimes Diana was painted with her children, or other children, to symbolize her motherhood. 

            Diana’s life has also been depicted in numerous documentaries.  These films are depictions of her life as seen by the public.  In films such as A Model Princess and A Portrait, the way that people observed her life before her death was depicted.  These films discuss Diana’s roots and how she took it upon herself to extend a loving hand to the public.  She is considered to be one of the first, if not the first, royal family member to constantly practice empathy (A Model Princess).  Documentaries are an accurate form of how the public and media view a person in the spotlight.  These films have the creator’s direct opinion embedded in every aspect, from the material even to the camera angles.  Because of this, documentary films are greatly subjective, and may not be a direct source for historical reference.  Diana’s life can be separated into different roles.  The mother, the princess, the bitter wife, and even other aspects of Diana’s character are captured in documentaries (A Portrait).  Her life is also pieced together through past news clips and interviews, and also through candid shots of her with her children.  A viewer can form her own opinions and memories through observing documentary films.  Obviously, Diana’s persona and actions can be seen as intriguing and even engrossing.  Because of this, so much of both the American and the international public have been interested in getting to know her, while never allowing her memory to die.

            There is always another side to every person that we do not all have the ability to see. Diana was known to put her children first.  The media often criticized her for picking up and leaving as often as she did, but she had much to look after.  Understandably, every mother has responsibilities besides her own children, but did she go a little too far?  “The princess, Miss Brown has written, leaves the children with their nannies and spends hours listening to her Sony Walkman and dancing on her own.  The princess retorted that leaving the children is a ‘terrible wrench’.” (Thomas 32).  Miss Brown, the well connected former Talk editor, noted that Princess Diana was so busy in her duties that she had to hire a nanny.  There is nothing wrong with needing a little extra help, but did she just use these nannies so she did not have to do the difficult work?  There were often interviews conducted in which Diana would bash her husband and the monarchy.  If “the Windsors plainly believe that Diana’s public persona should derive only from her formal role as wife of the Prince of Wales” (Wallace 64), then why did she take it upon herself to be so much else?  She made a name for herself that surpassed the traditional title of princess.  Diana became a media icon of her time.

            When Princess Diana died, much of the international public felt a void.  Her dedication memory will forever be remembered because of the countless forms of collectibles to keep her alive.  Between the porcelain plates, the stamps, the biographies, and the documentaries, she will never be forgotten. But is this an appropriate remembrance?  Do people remember her face and her title yet little of her actual impact?  It is interesting to ponder how many publications printed about Diana are even accurate.  The media will never be able to capture all that she did or even her intentions.  Many famous people are accused of putting on a façade in order to please people, and this could definitely be true of Diana.  How good a mother could she have been if she spent more time fronting for the media, going on trips to expand her popularity, and not paying enough attention to her own children?

            Regardless of who or what they really are, anyone in the media is going to be torn apart by critics.  What most people do not realize is that a person could have motherly traits without being the ideal mother.  Everybody is lacking in some sense, but what is important is that the people she touched and especially her children always felt her love.  It did not matter that she had much else to attend to.  All that really mattered was that she had good intentions and acted upon them as often as her schedule allowed.  Who is even to judge who the perfect mother is or if someone is not devoting enough time to her children?  Everyone has her own methods of raising her children and spreading her care; perhaps only the future will tell how Diana’s plan worked.


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Animation. Crown. 10 November 2003. <>.
Background.  Stars 2b. 3 November 2003.  <> .