Astudiaeth o gymhlethdod ymateb y bobl i farwolaeth Diana, Tywysoges Cymru, ym mis Medi 1997, yn cynnwys aroleg beirniadol o ymateb a grym y cyfryngau ac asesiad o'r elfennau allweddol ym myth galaru.
A study of the complexity of popular reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997, comprising a critical exploration of the coverage and power of the media and an assessment of the key elements of the myth of mourning.
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-97) occupied a quite unique place in British national life and secured for herself a special place in the affections of the British people. Born Lady Diana Spencer in July 1961, she married Charles, Prince of Wales, exactly twenty years later, undertook a wide range of royal duties, and gave birth to two sons, Princes William (born 1982) and Harry (born 1984).
Although the marriage was troubled almost from the outset, and the royal couple eventually divorced in 1996, she was still considered a highly valued member of Britain's royal family. Right up until the end of her tragically short life, the princess remained closely identified with charities to help children, homeless people and AIDS sufferers and with the movement to eradicate land mines.
When Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were killed in August 1997 in a high-speed car crash in Paris, at the very time when they appeared to be attaining happiness and a measure of stability in their personal lives, widespread public mourning, on a scale rarely witnessed in Britain before, immediately ensued. It culminated with her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6 September.
From the outset the British media presented a graphic image of a nation bound together in grief to mourn the so-called 'Queen of Hearts'. This soundly researched and eminently readable volume is the first rigorous, impartial analysis of popular attitudes and media coverage and bias during early September 1997. Using the results of a mass observation project, a range of opinion polls, newspaper and journal coverage, and a huge number of secondary sources, James Thomas pinpoints and dissects the range of conflicting reactions to the tragic events of 31 August.
Indeed, he demonstrates how the British people were in fact deeply divided in their responses to Diana's death and its aftermath. He shows conclusively how the media, far from reflecting and describing the grief of the nation, in fact led and moulded it. Somehow, the attitudes of those assembled and thus interviewed in the Mall and outside Kensington Palace at the heart of the metropolis were viewed as the reaction of the entire nation. Responses in the provinces were given notably short shrift.
In his conclusion, the author contrasts the popular memory of September 1997 with the myth of the blitz in World War Two. Media power, hugely and perilously undemocratic, dwarfed people power, potentially democratic and accountable. This pioneering volume is certainly a stimulating and eye-opening read.
J. Graham Jones
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.