Images of Diana, Princess of Wales

Like many Americans, the first image of her I can remember is the famous photo of Diana: child on her hip, sun light streaming through the thin fabric of her skirt, revealing no slip and a great set of gams. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, her hair a sandy blonde. Despite the leg shot, her face was so innocently unaware, she was soon dubbed "Shy Di" by the British media. Diana, the Princess of Wales, was the last of the aristocratic superstars.

Madonna and Christina Aguilar may channel the infamous Marilyn Monroe. Diana, on the hand, honed her own brand name. Many years later, the British press compared the Countess of Wessex, wife of Prince Edward to Diana . Their comparison was mainly because she was blonde, and also because of her haircut. In no other manner has she matched the late princess in style setting, fashion trends, or public persona.

The next image I had of Diana was her pretty fresh fair overwhelmed with the poufy sleeves of her young, silly wedding dress. Honestly, to make such a beautiful woman look so childish seemed like a shame to me. Much was made of the length of the trail, the silk, the design, even the designers. It just didn't look that hot on her. For the rest of that first year of marriage she appeared out and about in puffed sleeves and unbecoming hats, flat shoes that did nothing for her lovely calves.

She was a tall woman, and her husband was only a man of average height. The image we received of her first few years of marriage was that of dutiful young spouse. She gamely produced an heir and a space. Walked behind her husband smiling and waving to the crowds on her side. If his affair with his current wife bothered her, she didn't mention it then.

Not so later on. The image that emerged of Diana later, of wronged woman was pathetic indeed. Such a innocent beauty, trashed like a wilted rose. Charles apparently preferred his older, plainer love. The woman who shared his dull pursuits, country living and horsemanship. The woman who mothered him as apposed to admiring and adoring him. There were three in the marriage, Diana said once, so it was a little crowded. Ouch.

Next we were treated to the best image of Diana. That of her growing up in to a capable woman. A superstar in her own right, unafraid of high heels or AIDs patients. She made friends, danced, found meaning for her life in her charities and causes. She seemed to have finally broken free from the firm. Oh how we loved her for it, hanging on every photo. Scrap booking every new hairstyle. The dresses, the hats, we couldn't seem to get enough. If only she had lived, we would have continued to enjoy her successive successes.

The image the royal family seems content to rest with is that of a confused bulimic. The media likes to report she was overly needy, (as if Charles wasn't?) made friends in the wrong places, trusted the wrong people. She was not, we are told, as together and vulnerable and innocent as she seemed, but was rather fully capable of manipulating her image at whim. May be, or maybe the PR team at the firm, has an ax to grind. After all, she's dead. Those who are left behind are the ones who need to look good now.