Diana: The Last Word by Simone Simmons is a noteworthy and accessible read. True, much of the information is a rehash, but the accuracy of content far outweighs the aggravation of repetition. In this case the facts are well worth repeating in the interest of emphasizing a point.
Ms. Simmons is definitely to be commended for debunking the Dodi Fayed "boyfriend" myth - a fiction that has become genuinely tedious over the years. He emerges as a rotten spoiled reprobate who had virtually everything handed to him on a silver platter. Additionally, it seems he had a serious drug habit. Both points are issues Diana would not tolerate.
To make matters worse, evidently Dodi suffered from intensely foul body odor, a point that Ms. Simmons conveniently sidesteps or was unaware of. The problem was so conspicuous that Diana did her best to avoid him even when outside on the Fayed yacht. Search YouTube for video confirmation. The two of them hardly interacted at all on that boat. In fact, Diana seems to be doing all she can to avoid him. Prior to their meeting at the end of August 1997, she gave Dodi a gift basket of pricey male toiletries, in an attempt to help him with his situation. She was always sensitive to anyone with an affliction and did whatever she could to help - regardless of how uncomfortable or embarrassing the condition might be to confront. Under the circumstances, the idea of pregnancy is ludicrous.
As if this isn’t appalling enough, apparently the pregnancy lie is being perpetuated yet again in a new play. "Mirror UK is reporting that the West End play "Truth, Lies, Diana" suggests that Princess Diana was pregnant with [Dodi's] baby on the night she died." Really? Pregnant by someone she couldn't stand to be around outdoors much less in the same room with! Granted it is important to be considerate and respectful of anyone with a physiological disorder. However, unbearable body odor combined with zero physical attraction towards someone with no discipline, backbone or ambition makes for an implausible relationship - not to mention the fact that she completed her period just prior to their August 1997 meeting.
The implied "romance" smacks of yet another contrivance created by the Mohammed Fayed PR machine to elevate his personal status. Mr. Conway, the plays author, would do well to read "A Hero from Zero, The Story of Kleinwort Benson and Mohamed Fayed" by Roland W. "Tiny" Rowland. That publication sheds a very different light on the benevolent humanitarian spin Mr. Fayed has placed on his image. Mr. Rowland paints Fayed as a greedy, narcissistic, shameless, self-serving, self-indulgent, self-promoting mercenary who will stop at nothing to gratify his grandiose view of himself. "A Hero from Zero" would lead one to conclude that Mohammed Fayed has never done anything that wasn't deliberately staged to make him look good. An article entitled Holy War At Harrods by Maureen Orth writing for Vanity Fair magazine @ guardianlies.com. evokes the sentiment that virtually everything with Fayed is about production value and personal gain. Per Ms. Orth, "Enter a Different World," Harrods' long-time slogan beckoned. With Mohamed Al Fayed at the helm, it is a darkly suspicious world with laws unto itself." To say the least!
Additionally, Ms. Simmons is to be applauded for her efforts dispelling the Paul Burrell fairytale. Page 200, although surrealistic, is spot on. That kind of straightforward, word for word accuracy is rarely seen and very difficult to process. To the even more outrageous point, per the Mirror UK it seems that Mr. Burrell served as a consultant to Mr. Conway on his play. Ms. Simmons correctly notes that Mr. Burrell was about to be fired because of a series of infractions culminating with Diana catching him pilfering through her personal correspondence. She was furious at the contravention. His dismissal was at the top of her "to do" list when she returned from holiday. Curious that Conway would carry out "extensive interviews with [theorized] experts" and with "people who were [thought] to be close to her [Paul Burrell and James Hewitt]." Objective, impartial, with no personal agendas, are not descriptors that realistically apply to either. Moreover, the play introduces a character named Rose who supposedly sates "they [doctors] wanted to protect their careers [so they kept quite]." However, now she feels "it's time for the truth to come out." No telling who "Rose" is or if she is real or fictitious, but legitimate, truthful and honest obviously don't apply.
Diana did ask Ms. Simmons to "write a book and tell it like it is" should anything happen to her. The resulting co-authored writing style may not be to everyone's taste, but it is nonetheless a firsthand, though supervised, accounting. The book does carry a noticeable "I" tone and negative observations regarding editing, grammar, sentence structure, etc. are not entirely unwarranted. That being said, Ms. Simmons deserves credit for doing her best even though her approach may fall short of some expectations.
Diana Frances Spencer has been publically admonished for a variety of hypothetical failings ranging from being a bellicose, boring, immature, petulant, obsessively jealous, nightmare to a self-absorbed and self-destructive neurotic. Her husband evidently married her because she was good breeding stock, never caring about her beyond that point and did so while committed to a longtime courtesan. The Daily Mirror put the case bluntly: "He [Charles] is not the first royal to be unfaithful. Far from it. But he is the first to appear before 25 million of his subjects to confess." With all that contentment, joy and marital bliss, what possible reason could she have for being difficult or obstinate?
Diana devoted her life to serving others; to lifting them out of their despair and to helping them find their path in life - so much so that she lost her own way in the process. She deserved much better than she received. How sad that while living, Diana was forced to sell newspapers, magazines and air time as well as maximize rating points only to be obliged to sell movies, books, plays and consumer goods in the afterlife.
A quote from the Daily Telegraph sums it up best when they spoke of Diana by observing, "her situation, though privileged, is not enviable."
Five stars to Ms. Simmons - especially for accuracy of content despite the occasional compositional lapse. The "last word" it is not. It is however insightful, candid and honest.
I highly recommend this book.
Suggested related reading:
1) A Hero From Zero, The Story of Kleinwort Benson and Mohamed Fayed by Roland W. "Tiny" Rowland
2) An article entitled Holy War At Harrods by Maureen Orth writing for Vanity Fair magazine @ guardianlies.com.
3) Diana: The Lonely Princess by Nicholas Davies
4) Queen Elizabeth II: A Woman Who Is Not Amused by Nicholas Davies
5) Dead Wrong 2: Diana, Princess of Wales by Richard Belzer
6) How They Murdered Princess Diana: The Shocking Truth by John Morgan
7) By Hook Or By Crook by Steven Martindale
All books are available through Amazon [Martindale the exception] at the time of this writing with the Orth article @ guardianlies.com.