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Wednesday 29 June 2011

A Morbid Fiftieth Birthday Fascination

Few subjects have been of such use to the Fourth Estate after death as Diana, Princess of Wales. From the moment she passed away following a high speed car crash in Paris, the amount of coverage was on a monumental scale, with the Express even managing to earn the nickname of the Daily Diana (before it morphed into the Daily Maddie).

After the period of mourning came wall to wall funeral service coverage, then similar cortege coverage, followed by as much comment as could be shoehorned in. From that point, the lack of actual news was compensated for by conspiracy theories, ignoring the reality that Diana had put her life in the hands of Henri Paul, who at the time he took the wheel one last time was unfit so to do.

So no-one should be surprised to see the papers go into overdrive to celebrate what would have been the Princess’ fiftieth birthday. And some of the coverage has been morbid in the extreme, with the Mail reprinting large chunks of Tina Brown’s NewsweekIf she were here now” article. The piece is full of speculation and no doubt has shifted more copies, but is in reality milking the memory bank knowing that there will be no comeback.

That hasn’t stopped the Mail from linking Diana with a whole raft of slebs and asserting that she would have embraced Facebook (which, for the purposes of the article, is now A Good Thing), if only to run even more sleb and power person photos. At least Tina Brown has one thing right: Diana would have dumped Dodi Fayed, something that Mohammed “you can call me Al” Fayed would find difficult to accept.

Strangely, the Express coverage is relatively low key, although the usual rule applies: there may be more tomorrow, once Des’ finest have had time to lift a story from elsewhere. But neither of these titles, nor any of the others that are continuing to use Diana to move more papers, seem to have allowed one thought to enter.

And that is that they could, and should, now let go: they’ve made a nice little earner out of Diana, through her life, at the time of her death, and trading on her memory. Now would be a good time to run one last story and leave her in peace.

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