Princess Diana's Tragic Story Is Still a PR Problem for the Royal Family, Omid Scobie Says

They avoid painful reminders.

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Diana's story was difficult from the moment she became engaged to Prince Charles.

He reportedly told her he didn't love her, and carried on his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles throughout the marriage. She struggled with bulimia, was likely quite lonely, and had affairs herself.

They publicly separated, then later divorced, and Diana gave her now-infamous Panorama interview, in which she opened up candidly about it all.

There was also the publication of Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story--in Her Own Words earlier, in 1992, the first tell-all royal biography of its kind.

And, post-divorce, there were Diana's relationships with Dr. Hasnat Khan and Dodi Fayed, who died in the same car crash as the princess.

For royal reporter Omid Scobie, the story of Diana is still "a stain on the royals" 25 years after her death, he writes in his Yahoo! column—and they avoid reminding the public of the most controversial aspects of the late princess' life whenever they can.

They sell Diana memorabilia in palace shops and hold exhibitions about her life in palace galleries, but they keep it at that.

Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing sunglasses and a pale green maternity dress with a white collar designed by Catherine Walker, while pregnant with Prince William, attend a polo match at Guards Polo Club on May 30, 1982 in Windsor, United Kingdom

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein / Getty)

"Sanitized history, if you will," a former aide told Scobie. "To the institution, Diana will always be remembered in a way that is safe for them—a safe distance kept from everything else. It’s why you never see Charles acknowledge the anniversary of her death. Quite simply, they can't afford to remind people of his role in her pain."

A little show called The Crown didn't help, either: When the Diana/Camilla storyline was introduced, the Clarence House Instagram had to shut down its comment section for a while (I did not know this, but it makes a lot of sense).

While the Royal Family has changed in the past quarter of a century, Scobie writes, it hasn't changed that much.

In this photo composite image a comparison is made between (left) Diana, Princess of Wales as she arrives at the Vatican to meet Pope Paul II in April 1985 and (right) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meeting Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica on April 27, 2009 in Vatican City, the Vatican.

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein / Getty)

And for him, there are evident parallels to be drawn between Princess Diana's and Meghan Markle's treatments within the royal institution.

The expert reminds us of an excerpt from a letter Diana wrote shortly before she died. "I have been battered, bruised and abused mentally by a system for 15 years now, but I feel no resentment . . . I am strong inside and maybe that is a problem for my enemies," she wrote.

"Thank you Charles for putting me through such hell and for giving me the opportunity to learn from the cruel things you have done to me."

Scobie also recalls that Diana said, speaking about herself, "She won't go quietly, that's the problem. I'll fight to the end, because I believe that I have a role to fulfil."

And fight to the end she did.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.