When Prince William and Prince Harry announced they wanted to put up a statue of their mum in her memory, they said the time was right to remember Diana. Of all people, they should know. But that one sentence summed up a general sense that the memory of the princess is somehow growing stronger. In many ways, the royal 2017 will be about celebrating Diana.
It's not like we've forgotten her. Since Diana died in Paris on August 31st 1997, there have been lots of tributes to her and several permanent memorials in London alone. But there's always been a general sense of unease in going too far into a debate about Diana. That awkwardness is starting to fade.
It's almost as if the unprecedented outpouring of grief and anger in the days and weeks following her death shocked everyone into silence. Like we realised we'd gone completely against the British way and shuffled back behind our stiff upper lips to pretend it hadn't happened. Talking about Diana in the years that followed her death usually meant awkward conversations about her relationship with the media or the rest of the Royal Family. We've had critically panned films and TV programmes about conspiracy theories. That all seems to be altering.
In the last month alone, the positive vibe about Diana's legacy has grown perhaps faster than it has in years. The Diana Award has long kept her memory alive but the announcement of a national Kindness Day in her honour this year has got even more people talking about her work. The exhibition of her dresses being held at Kensington Palace to mark the 20th anniversary of her passing this year has led to articles celebrating her fashion and features on how her personality altered the concept of royal style. Now, the announcement of the statue has brought more positive pieces, remembering a woman who helped shape what we all think of royalty as this ancient institution moves into a very modern age.
That most modern concept, Instagram, shows just how popular Diana still is. The Kensington Palace Instagram is easily the best followed of all the official royal accounts and the (rather gorgeous) photo it posted of Diana to mark the statue announcement is one of its biggest hits so far. The comments by its side spell out the interest in discussing Diana - as if the mammoth number of likes didn't already highlight the appetite out there right now to talk about the princess. .
And there is plenty to talk about apart from the conversations that have tended to dominate, the ones that start with 'well, she was very complex '. Aren't we all? That's one of the reasons Diana struck such a chord. Diana's legacy is far reaching, touching and fun. It's seen in her charity work, her children, her style, her image as an icon of the 80s and 90s. But it's written just as large in her determination to help those often forgotten by large parts of society and in her willingness to tackle subjects others didn't want to talk about. That feels very 2017 indeed right now.
Let's hope this year does turn into a time to celebrate all of those legacies. Now really does feel like the right time to remember Diana.Suggest a correction