Diana, Princess of Wales, as her brother said at her funeral, needed no royal name to work her particular magic. In fact, so great was the power of her star-dust that she needed nothing other than her first name. If someone mentioned ‘Diana’, it was her. From 1980, if you were talking the ancient goddess of hunting, you had to point that out.
When she married the Prince of Wales Diana was seen as the perfect royal spouse, someone whose family had close links to the crown and who would be undaunted by the role because she already, to some extent, knew the ropes. What no one had accounted for was that, although she had the savoir faire to be a royal consort, she also had the je ne sais quoi of an uber-megastar. Everyone thought she was taking up a life of service to the crown but, entirely without knowing it, her stardom was destined to transcend her royal role, her nationality and, arguably, herself.
Dianamania was born the moment she hit the headlines in the early 1980s. It continued to rage until her tragic death in Paris in 1997. No one knew how to handle it, not the royal family, not us, not her. The press plagued her from beginning to end, to feed the insatiable appetite of her global fan base. Through no fault of the royal family’s or Diana’s she ended up resembling an enormous cuckoo in their under-sized nest. Diana put her global fame to good uses in her charity work, but none of that positive impact could mask the fact that she ended up imprisoned metaphorically and, to some extent literally, by her popularity.
Here are five books that will go some way to understanding Diana’s life, where she came from, her role in the royal family and her status and impact as a cultural phenomenon—a woman who had more followers and was a greater influencer than all the denizens of Twitter and Instagram combined could ever dream of.