Независимый бостонский альманах

LIFE AND DEATH OF PRINCESS DIANA

07-09-1997

Петр Ильинский - молодой ученый-биолог, работает в Гарварде. Но интересуется проблемами российской (и не только) истории, печатается в американской русскоязычной прессе. Эту композицию он представил на английском языке, поскольку она касается в основном Англии. В следующих номерах "Лебедя" мы познакомим читателей с его статьями на исторические темы. - В.Л. Let me offer you my take on Princess Diana. They are in abundance right now, but I promise mine to be different. And please, forgive my English.

I think that this story should be called "The woman and her men". Or rather that it should not be called a story, but a tale. Therefore...

Once upon a time there lived a beautiful girl. And all girls dream about meeting a prince (or so we think). In fact, conventional wisdom says rather unequivocally that all girls want to become princesses. And conventional wisdom is not always wrong. Girl meeting prince... Sounds like a tale, right? You used to read some of these when you were a child, didn't you?

But this particular girl really meets a prince. And he offers her a heart and a hand, so to say. That's very nice of him. He probably promises her something else, too. Like being kind and tender and compassionate (all men are doing this when proposing, even the princes). It is quite possible that he says something about love, as well (all girls like to hear about love, even designated brides). May I remind you that the girl in question is barely nineteen years old. Remember yourself when you were nineteen? What did you know of love?

Of life? Of marriage, for that matter? So, the girl believes a prince. She accepts. She trusts a prince. She wants to be happy. Most likely, she also wants to be a princess. She does not mind being a queen either. Some day, later. Don't forget after all, this was supposed to be a lengthy tale.

Next day after wedding the girl discovers that the prince cheated on her. He lied, so to speak. There is no love involved, there is a pure reason. The girl is supposed to be a beautiful stand-in. But most importantly, she is to be used as an heir-producing incubator. As a bioreactor, if one wants to use a politically-correct language.

But this is also a part from the tale. Since so many pretty princesses were used as bioreactors during several last milleniums, it won't be hard for you at all to find such story in a book. To be sure, these tales are not usually made into movies by Disney, therefore, people tend to forget about them.

Like so many deceived princesses before her, this one fights anguish and depression, tries to maintain her physical and moral composure and searches to find some kind of a solace in being a good mother. She succeeds. Probably, she is rather strong. And she is not a girl anymore, she is a woman.

But here comes a catch. It appears that most women tend to long for one very important thing, which is called love (or so we are taught by a conventional wisdom). And this one is not an exception.

Therefore, she falls for an officer. Young and handsome.

This is definitely a chapter from the book you used to read.

Princess falling for an officer, isn't it romantic? What even better, in this case it's an English officer, and this equals the definition of a real gentleman (I am tired of quoting the conventional wisdom, but I just can't get around it). We would never know, what did the officer promise. But since the love was the only thing that was missing from the life of the princess, may I therefore hypothesize that this word was invoked once again? And it looks to me, that the princess believed to an officer. She entrusted herself to him, so to speak (majority of women usually trust the man they are sleeping with, despite the Hollywood attempts to convince us in the opposite).

Just a little bit later the princess discovers that the officer lied, too. It occurs that this fine gentleman used her as a very effective cash-producing machine. You see, he needed money. Therefore, he had to tell the stories about her in public. This is definitely not from the tale your mother has read to you before bed. This simply cannot be found in books. They used to decapitate for such things, you know. Or, at the very least, to kill on a duel. Thanks God, these times have long passed, and now we are living in a civilized society. We love our society, don't we?

Oh, the princess? She is getting discarded. Not so long ago, they used to use convents for such glorious occasions.

Not anymore. That's a real consolation, is it? Therefore, this young woman would be left alone. She will have to live in the shadows. She won't be a princess anymore. She won 't be a queen either. End of a dream. End of the tale?

No, since this woman refuses to go away. She is strong, remember that? And step by step she finds a new life, she ultimately finds the new love. This time, it is an Arabian sheikh. And he is as rich and wondrous as his thousand-and-one-night look-alikes. Did I mention some kind of a tale once again? Believe me, this was absolutely unintentional. And I am so tired of recurring themes, that I would not say anything about love and, most importantly, about trust. Not anymore.

What does the sheikh do to the princess? Oh, he kills her.

There were a number of tales about sheikhs killing princesses, remember? Certainly, then it was because of a jealousy, not because of a recklessness. And they did not use to kill themselves, as well. I am afraid, though, it does not matter for a woman. A dead woman.

Therefore, in the end, I see this whole story as a tale of a woman and her men. And it does not appear to me that I carry any positive feelings towards male individuals listed above. I am afraid, I do not.

I suggest that from now on you draw your own conclusions. You may think about the power of traditions. You may question the values of progress. As you wish. But make no mistake, this is not a feminist kind of story. In fact, I am rather old-fashioned (as most Russians are). In that regard, I believe that the Man should take a good care of his Woman.

Particularly, he should not decieve her and he should not harm her. And I truly believe that this woman was not given a very good care by her... In fact, I am so old-fashioned that I would strongly resent these individuals being called Men. I would deny them this definition.

Princess Diana - photo essay

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