Nine years ago last week the country changed. I was on holiday at the time. I awoke turned on the radio to get radio 4. Now this was surprising since I was tuned to Radio 5! It quickly became apparent that a member of the Royal Family had died, and of course the natural assumption was that it was the Queen Mother, but it soon dawned that Diana Princess of Wales had died in an accident.
Now I was not a fan of the late Princess, but it was of course sad that someone so young had died, I felt sympathy for her sons but I can't say I felt grief. It became apparent though that we were expected to grieve. Every radio program seemed to be a phone in with people in mourning. TV schedules were thrown out of the window.
Workers demanded that shops and factories be closed so they could watch the funeral. Footballers and others demanded that the games were postponed.
Of course being on holiday I was bereft of people to talk to. Its a bit much when Richard Littlejohn seems the voice of reason but he commented that when Churchill died everyone mourned and then got on with it.
I picked up Private Eye which was brilliant. It never once stepped out of line. It took merciless aim at the public and the media but never once at the Princess (who in the past was a prime target), it perfectly summed my feelings. The best bit was a piece with quotes about Diana in Sunday editions before and after she died. Brilliant.
I drove home on the day of the funeral (roads were empty), I avoided the funeral (cut my grass). The only piece of the day I remember clearly is this idiot saying "I never met her she had no impact on my life but I cried more than when my Father died". What a prize buffoon.
What got me in this topic was that the public were outraged the Queen didn't rush back from Balmoral to share there grief.
I was watching Richard & Judy (I was round Mum's at the time) this week and they were discussing a new film called The Queen. It stars Helen Mirren as the Queen and that chap who played Bair in The Deal.
I believe it deals with the week after Diana's death and I think the conversations of the Queen and Blair. The clip I saw went like this (paraphrased) (oh and I believe that it may have come from private conversation Blair had with people at the time that were leaked).
Blair - Ma'am the people expect you to come back and share their Grief!
Queen - Their Grief !! Mr Blair if you think I am going to desert my grandchildren at this moment... I think I know the British People better than that. They will mourn quitely and with dignity as they've always done.................
Blair - As you wish Ma'am
The thing was Blair was right, people did expect her to do just that. My own view was stuff Brenda from Milton Keynes worry about the children. The Queen may of misjudged the mood but she was still right.
To me Britain changed that day. It just happened to change for the worse.