Princess Diana died seven years ago today. Since then she has been branded as the ultimate media Machiavelli, a skilful and devious self-publicist. But in reality, says Ros Coward, who has interviewed those closest to her for the first authorised biography, she promoted her image only for the good of others – and it was she who was manipulated
One fact everyone seems to know about Princess Diana these days is that she was an ace manipulator of the media. This view has arisen relatively quickly. In the immediate aftermath of her death, people united in distaste for the role the media appeared to have played; indeed the media acknowledged how much she had been tormented by collectively agreeing to spare her young sons similar attention. Only seven years later, however, more details are known about how she talked to the press, occasionally staged photo-opportunities, and gave that Panorama interview. Some talk as if Diana was the ultimate media Machiavelli, perhaps even the architect of her own disaster. In seven short years, the victim has become the criminal.