THE SELFISH PRINCESS?
PETER TATCHELL asks: If Princess Diana was so caring and compassionate, why didn't she leave any money to charity?
The publication of Princess Diana's will has, at last, revealed the truth behind the hype. While the total value of her estate was a staggering £21.7 million, not a penny was left to charity.
The caring Princess clearly wasn't that caring after all. She was very happy to do charity work for people with AIDS, providing it didn't cost her anything. But when it came to parting with her own money, she chose to keep it in her already super-rich family, rather than share it with those in need. It would have been easy for Diana to bequeath £5,000 to each of the dozen charities she claimed to "really care about", including London Lighthouse and the National AIDS Trust. That would have set her back £60,000 - an insignificant sum considering that her personal fortune amounted to nearly £22 million.
Let's face it, Princess Diana was a privileged aristocrat and multi-millionairess, who had more than a streak of selfishness. Far from being the "People's Princess", she was, in fact, a rather ungenerous royal masquerading as lady bountiful.
Diana has often been portrayed as a modern-day Florence Nightingale, helping the sick and the poor. But there is no comparison. The Princess never suffered for years in the freezing, disease-ridden Crimea, without adequate food and heating, as did Nightingale. In short, Diana's charitable endeavours were not based on even the tiniest personal sacrifice. The betterment of others was conditional on no losses or costs to her.
I am, of course, sorry Diana died. I also appreciate her good work promoting awareness about homelessness, AIDS and land-mines. She deserves our thanks for that. But the majority of us would have done as much, and probably a good deal more, if we had been lucky enough to have had her wealth and status. Most telling of all, I suspect that 90 per cent of people - if put in her position - would have been considerably more generous when writing their will. Why, then, has Princess Diana been elevated to near-sainthood, when she was so obviously unsaint-like with her own immense wealth?
Metropolis, 20 March 1998