[T]he genuinely bizarre aspect of the all-consuming Dianamania that gripped Britain a decade ago this week is how slight a trace it has left. The royal family is pretty much the same, only quieter...10 years is not long? Here in America, we're committed in advance to being sick of every President after 8 years. We can't consider putting up with a leader for 10 years even hypothetically.
Nor have there been political repercussions. It didn't take long for Britons to tire of Blair's Diana-like emotionalism (some would say Diana-like manipulativeness).
His sober replacement, Gordon Brown -- a man whose name rarely appears in print without the adjective "dour" -- is already more popular. Brown's government is dominated by technocratic types with furrowed brows and by sensible centrists, such as his plain-jane home secretary, Jacqui Smith: No sign of touchy-feeliness there.Jacqui Smith! The last time I heard about her, WaPo fashion columnist Robin Givhan was comparing her show of cleavage to Hillary Clinton's -- and finding it "a full-fledged come-on." Now, I don't know what to think of Jacqui Smith -- or the U.K. Is it a place where an exuberant show of cleavage is regarded as staid?
One could argue that Diana's truest legacy is the screaming emotionalism of the British tabloids -- except that it long predates Diana and actually helped create her in the first place....Did the columnist trek to Althorp and feel cold and grouchy, or is it really true that the death of Diana caused a fever, which spiked and died away?
Ironically, nowhere does Dianamania seem more irrelevant than in the place that was meant to be its shrine. Last summer I happened to find myself at the Diana memorial at Althorp, her family's estate....
There was the original, handwritten version of the speech her brother, Charles, gave at her funeral -- framed behind glass and lit as if it were the Magna Carta.
Visitor numbers are way down from 1997, and no wonder: The whole thing feels rather irrelevant. Human beings naturally try to give deeper meaning to pointless tragedies -- even where no meaning is to be found.
CORRECTION: Applebaum is not British! She did, however, write "Like most Britons, I can remember where I was when the BBC announced...."