Skip to main content

Diana, 'The People's Princess' Revealed the Patriarchal Structure of Society

Volume 31, Issue 7,8 & 9, September 21, 2017

Goria Cope, Chemainus

     Diana, Princess of Wales’ died a tragic death from a car accident in Paris, the night of August 31st, 1997. In the days of deep mourning and mass grief that followed, I don’t think there was a soul that wasn’t touched by this terrible tragedy, some phenomena never experienced before to my knowledge. My husband and I couldn’t stop crying during this time. It appeared to us that the whole world was standing still to grieve over this beautiful young woman’s untimely death. 
     Diana was only 18 when she became engaged to Prince Charles, a good 10 years older and next in line to the British royal throne. Although Diana came from British aristocracy herself, she seemed to me to be just like any other modern young woman of the time who enjoyed dreams for a lovely future and had no reason to think otherwise. Yes, she was very rich financially but she didn’t wear it, if you know what I mean. 
     The story goes that the night before her wedding day, Diana learned that her husband to be, ‘already’ had a mistress and was still very much in love with her. We also learned as time went by that Diana was the virgin necessary for this future king to marry. Because she accepted this role and did indeed love Charles, she did what was expected and fortunately produced two sons, an heir and a spare. 
     William and Harry brought her much happiness throughout the rest of her life. However, the betrayal she endured from the beginning of her marriage proved to be too much for her to bear and while she suffered inwardly and outwardly in many cases, she was unable to ‘suck it up’ as they say and get on with life within the royal household. 
     During that time, her love and compassion for others shone through and she did whatever she could to make changes, and bring justice and loving solace to the less fortunate, sometimes going to places no other royal would go.     
     Diana was a woman, who in spite of her perceived weaknesses seen by some was able to gather strength and courage during those years to do whatever she could, to change her life from the prison she felt she was in, enabling herself to climb beyond it. We, the world watched her struggles and always at some level understood this. When she died, she was almost there, she was on her way.
  But, what was it that affected us so deeply, that touched our heart, spirit and soul when she died? 
     I’ve come to believe that buried deep within our sub-consciousness is a place that when disturbed by a long-lost memory can surface and play out in whatever way our soul or spirit needs to, which brings me to the question; what was it that Diana’s untimely death touched in us? 
     Was it her life struggle viewed through a window to the world in this ongoing age of patriarchy, that touched us all? Of course, Charles was a victim too in all of this although he had power, money and prestige. Methinks he fared a little better….
     Before the age of patriarchy, archaeological digs throughout Europe during the last centuries show societies where men and women lived in partnership. It is referred to as the Paleolithic Age. They were a very spiritual people who worshipped a Mother Goddess. It would seem logical that both human and animal life being generated from the female body and that, like the seasons and the moon, women’s body also go in cycles. Their society was matrilineal; children took their mothers’ names and there was no war. This led our ancestors to see the life-giving and sustaining powers of female rather than the male form. 
     When the Indo-Europeans invaded Europe from the East, they brought with them some of the “refinements” of modern civilization: the warhorse, war, belief in male Gods, exploitation of nature that included women, and some knowledge of the male role in procreation etc. When patriarchal religions evolved, male powers over the centuries suppressed all things feminine. 
     For example, in early Christianity, there was both male God and mother Goddess worship; the latter brought in by the pagans. (country people) Some feminist scholars believe the latter were eventually eradicated and over time replaced by the Virgin Mary who was the mother of Jesus. 
     Another example of disavowing the feminine was with Mary Magdalene who feminine scholars describe as the first Apostle and believe she was probably married to Jesus. Scripture hints that Magdalene was a prostitute and even though during the latter part of the last century the Vatican vindicated her, it was done so quietly, no one heard.
     I believe that Diana, the Peoples' Princess triggered something within our psyche that caused humanity, to yearn for something of the feminine archetype of the Diety which was once worshiped in the name of fertility, equality, goodness and love.