What Next for Diana? Few Role Models for Royal Divorcee
Aug. 28, 1996
LONDON (AP) _ No more royal husband, no more Her Royal Highness _ no more role for Diana?
Once she is divorced from Prince Charles, the newly styled Diana, Princess of Wales, will be rich, beautiful, independent and effectively jobless.
The final decree was expected today, six weeks after Charles was granted a preliminary decree of divorce from the woman he married 15 years ago.
There is no precedent for her new role _ there never has been an ex-wife of a Prince of Wales, the title taken by males next in line to the throne.
Buckingham Palace has promised to invite her to the odd state or national event. There will be a dinner here, a ball there for the few charities she still represents and outings with her sons. But the dizzying whirl of public royal duties is gone, and a person can only spend so much time in glitzy restaurants or honing their muscles in the gym.
So what will she do?
Since her declaration in a television interview last year that she aspired to being ``a queen in people's hearts,'' Diana has said little about her plans. Many people have theories.
``What she wants is to travel abroad for Britain highlighting children's issues,'' said Dame Barbara Cartland, the romantic novelist whose daughter Raine was Diana's step-mother. ``But the queen is being very difficult about it. She has said no.''
Diana needs the OK from Queen Elizabeth II for any new public role. So far, it appears, this is lacking.
Diana has just a few charity functions planned for the rest of the year, including trips to the United States, Italy and Australia. Her next official engagement is in Washington D.C. on Sept. 24 for the Nina Hyde Cancer Research Appeal.
In July, Diana quit as patron of nearly 100 British charities, in what was widely regarded as a tantrum over the terms of the divorce. She retained her association with just six.
Her financial settlement from Charles has not been revealed, but news reports put her lump-sum payment at $26.35 million.
Charles reportedly will also provide $620,000 a year to run her office at Kensington Palace, where she retains a luxurious apartment.
Buckingham Palace says Diana still will be part of the royal family, still entitled to flights on the Royal Squadron, or a trip on the Royal Train at taxpayer's expense.
``The princess is the mother of a future king and is therefore in a unique position,'' a palace spokesman said when the divorce was announced. She and Charles, 47, share custody of their sons Prince William, 14, and Prince Harry, 11.
So Diana is unlikely to suffer the fate of the 19th century Princess of Wales, Caroline of Brunswick, also unhappily married although never divorced. Her husband, who became King George IV, barred her from his coronation. She died days later.
``That whole situation was much more baroque,'' said the historian Lady Elizabeth Longford. ``If Diana keeps her head down, she has more hope of making a go of things.''
In the short-term, says Richard Kay, the Daily Mail reporter whom Diana has befriended, all she wants is ``to take the Channel Tunnel train for a weekend in Paris and enjoy a pavement lunch in London without having her photo taken.''
Highly unlikely _ at least for now.
``There is nobody else with the same status and sex appeal,'' said Judy Wade, royal editor on ``Hello!'' magazine, which specializes in flattering photos and stories on celebrities.
``But she's 35 now, the best years are nearly behind her. As soon as William gets a steady girlfriend _ someone who does have a chance of making it to the throne _ the interest in Diana will wane.''