I thought I would never be able to read too much about Princess Diana. I was wrong. In Diana: Her New Life, I learn that the Princess of Wales enjoys regular colonic irrigations because ”they take all the aggro out of me.” Really, I don’t need to know this. I also don’t need to know that Diana invests in ”anger release” sessions, hypnotherapy, homeopathy, sleep therapy, and astrological consultations. That she takes Prozac. Or that she keeps a large stuffed animal called Mr. Gorilla in her bedroom.
That this is more information than I desire won’t, of course, stop author Andrew Morton from piling it on. Having made a bundle two years ago with Diana: Her True Story, in which (with his subject’s tacit consent) he broke the news that the young mother of the future king of England was bulimic and occasionally suicidal in her palace prison, Morton, a professional royal sucker-upper, knows he’s got his teeth sunk into a fab story, and he’s not going to let go. Why should he? In the nasty PR battle of Chuck versus Di, Morton has styled himself as Diana’s spin doctor while Charles has put his dunderheaded faith in journalist Jonathan Dimbleby — the author of The Prince of Wales, the Prince’s studiously mild but nevertheless dishing authorized new biography. Dimbleby, by the way, was also the interviewer with whom, astonishingly, Charles recently chatted on British TV about his adulterous relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles and his lack of love for his wife.
It is by now well acknowledged that Diana is an undisciplined, unsophisticated, unbalanced young woman, that Charles is a boorish wimp, and that the ”fairy-tale” marriage of this glamorous and celebrated royal couple who once embodied the mysterious thrill of nobility has disintegrated with common, tacky nastiness. I don’t know what shreds of news there are left to be leaked or shared or otherwise sold (unless Donald Trump decides to write a book about how Di may or may not have considered buying an apartment in one of his Manhattan buildings). But I do know that the depressing consequence of books like Diana: Her New Life, The Prince of Wales, and Anna Pasternak’s Princess in Love (a goo-goo-girlish account of Di’s supposed affair with James Hewitt) — plus, for that matter, Faye Resnick’s Nicole Brown Simpson, Roseanne’s My Lives, or Geraldine Barr’s My Sister Roseanne — is that tawdriness loses its distinctive scent of human baseness and everybody starts to stink the same. The more I learn about Diana, the less of a fascinating, unique person she becomes. In fact, with every additional detail supplied about her obsessions with lunch dates, gym workouts, and horoscope readings, her flirtations with & men and her divorce woes, her devotion to her children, and her lack of direction in life, the more she resembles Nicole Simpson: both blond, both trapped, both defined by the men who have owned them, both unprepared for independence, both obsessed with themselves.
Trash journalism reduces real lives to the condition of a TV movie-of-the-week. But maybe our Dumpsters are full. Resnick’s execrably opportunistic book about her dead friend recently made the best-seller list, but Roseanne’s My Lives bombed in the bookstores. I would be happy for Diana to really have a new life for herself — one that leaves me out. And I’d be happy to do without revelations like this one: ”Finally, it all became too much for her. She sat at her paper-strewn desk, her head held in her hands, salty tears rolling down her pink cheeks. The paparazzi were making her life a misery.” Is the author talking about Diana? Nicole? Roseanne? It’s a sad day for journalism — and for the throne of England — when you can’t tell the Princess of Wales from the Queen of Sitcoms. Diana: Her New Life: D The Prince of Wales: B