Diana: The People’s Princess - Q&A with Nicholas Owen
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’s tragic death. In Diana: The People’s Princess, Nicholas Owen chronicles her remarkable story in words and stunning pictures, celebrating her life and her legacy. We spoke to Nicholas.
With over 250 photographs, do you see the book as a visual chronicle of Diana’s life?
Yes, very much so. She was the most famous person of her age. We have picked the very best pictures, some wonderfully familiar, some not.
Do you think Diana fully understood the power of the image?
I’m sure she did not start out realising what power her image had. She learned quickly that there was fascination in everything she did. And there was enormous interest in what she wore. From this male perspective, her fashion choices were almost always bang on. I love any picture where she is smiling, better still laughing.
In your role of Royal correspondent you must have met or seen Diana many times, is there a particular occasion, which stood out for you?
I was lucky enough to have lunch with her. The odd thing was she was more interested in hearing about my TV life than talking about she was doing.
Do you think the public perception of the Royals has changed since she died?
I hope people realise fully that Royals are not immune from personal difficulties. The added burden for them is that they have to deal with them in a much more public way than most of us would be comfortable with.
What lessons do you think the Royal Family learned from Diana?
The Royal Family has changed, and in ways that traditionalists may not like. But in this noisy, restless, media-dominated age, the younger Royals in particular have learned to communicate in a way that I think ensures the House of Windsor will flourish as long as the British choose to have a crowned head of state.
What do you think is the continuing appeal of Diana and what would you say is her legacy?
Attitudes to Diana have varied. She seemed to have a magical lifestyle in her early days, almost a fairytale Princess for a modern age. Curiously, I think many people identified with her much more once her marriage started falling apart. There was great sympathy for her.
At the end of the book there is a lovely page of Memories of Diana from a variety of people including Bill Clinton, Elton John, Nelson Mandela. What would you say yours are Nicholas?
As a Royal reporter, I saw at first hand the joy she brought to so many of the people she met. She made some big mistakes, however, I have always thought the country lost something important with the sudden and terrible end of the People’s Princess.
Nicholas Owen was ITN’s Royal Correspondent from 1994 to 2000 and played a central role in reporting on the death of Princess Diana. He was a co-anchorman for the coverage of her funeral. Since 2007 he has been a presenter for BBC TV News and Classic FM. See here to buy a copy of Diana: The People’s Princess signed by Nicholas.