News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Princess Diana Is So Beloved By Immigrant Moms

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

A popular pandemic distraction - and a safe one, too - a new season of the Netflix series "The Crown."

(SOUNDBITE OF HANS ZIMMER'S "THE CROWN MAIN TITLE")

MCCAMMON: Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Prince Philip, Margaret Thatcher - we're well into the mid-'70s and '80s this time around, and this season has reignited a fresh round of sympathy for one royal in particular.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE CROWN")

JOSH O'CONNOR: (As Prince Charles) What an ugly, avaricious piece of self-advancement that is.

EMMA CORRIN: (As Princess Diana) I'd sooner be doing it with my husband by my side.

MCCAMMON: That's Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin as the tragically mismatched Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

TESS VENKAT: I thought she was a phenomenal mother, right? I really did.

MCCAMMON: And that's Tess Venkat of Ashburn, Va., who for years has had very strong feelings about the late princess.

VENKAT: She was very empathetic, very caring - the love for her kids and the love for little children all around the world.

MIA VENKAT, BYLINE: It's not something that we share as far as the intensity of love for Diana, but I totally can relate to why she feels the way that she does.

MCCAMMON: That's Tess Venkat's daughter, NPR producer Mia Venkat.

VENKAT: I was in high school, and my mom and I were driving somewhere. Suddenly, she pulled out a rosary in the car and started praying. And I was like, all right, what just happened? Should I be concerned? And my mom was just like, every time I drive through a tunnel, I say a rosary for Diana.

MCCAMMON: While Mia is too young to remember Diana's death after that crash in a Paris tunnel, she does think there's a cultural reason why some South Asian women, like her mother, say they feel a connection to the unhappily married Diana.

VENKAT: Separation is seen as - it's very taboo. It's - so even if it's a dysfunctional marriage, it's just not something that's done. And so I think a lot of Indian women can relate to that, looking at Diana's life.

VENKAT: Right. Right. I agree.

MCCAMMON: And it's not just Indian women. Some users on TikTok are noting just how personal their immigrant mothers' feelings are for Diana.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Every African mother loves Princess Diana. You would think that they knew her, that they were best friends, just girls hee-hee-hee (ph) - kicking it, like...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: And they'd be like, she was so kind and nice and lovely. She was so pleasant. Like, have you met her before? Were you guys hanging out?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: My mom never had an interest in watching "The Crown" until I told her that Season 4 had Princess Diana in it. And now all of a sudden, we need to binge-watch "The Crown" in my house.

MCCAMMON: Emotions - there are so many, which is why reporter Tariro Mzezewa recently wrote about all of this for The New York Times.

TARIRO MZEZEWA: People said they just loved that she seemed really human and really connected with normal people, even though she was royal. Other people said they sort of related to her marrying into a family as an outsider. And people just felt this connection to her. And she just treated other people like they were at her same level. It was never a sense of, I'm better than you, or I'm royalty and you're not.

MCCAMMON: Many of the women Mzezewa spoke to were born in countries that were colonized and exploited by the British Empire. But they say they view Diana as separate from the rest of the royal family.

DIANA UMANA: It's going to be very difficult to find someone from my generation who is, like, the child of Nigerian immigrants who doesn't love Princess Diana.

MCCAMMON: Diana Umana - yes, her parents are also big fans of the princess. And yes, that's one of the reasons they gave her that first name. Her favorite royal is Meghan Markle.

UMANA: I do feel, in very many ways, that she is our generation's Diana. And I'm just so excited to see, like, what she's going to do.

MCCAMMON: Umana loves the fact that, like Diana, Meghan Markle is relatable, and she's open about her struggles. She even published an op-ed last week talking about her miscarriage. But unlike Diana...

UMANA: So proud of her for escaping the monarchy. And she did it really quickly and, of course, with Harry's full support.

MCCAMMON: And hopefully she's getting the fairytale ending that Princess Diana never had. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

KERA News is funded by members in the community who know that quality, unbiased news is critical to a high functioning society. Join for the very first time, renew your membership or make an additional gift today.