Many will snort with derision at the news that boyband du jour One Direction (1D), appear to reference Princess Diana in their new song, Diana, which leaked onto the internet at the weekend.
Although the majority of the song is a traditional boyband ballad of unrequited love, the references to the tragic princess are there from the beginning, most obviously with the title and the song’s opening line: “The front pages of your pictures / They make you look so small…Diana…”
What could a bunch of (admittedly very famous) teenagers know about the anguish of Lady Di, the naysayers will ask? Are they seriously comparing themselves to the most famous woman of all time? How dare they!
Not so fast.
I would argue that the 1D lads are probably the best qualified people on the planet to put themselves in Diana’s shoes - in this particular showbiz minute, at least.
On Monday last week, backstage at the Burberry Prorsum show at London Fashion Week, there were two media scrums. The first, to interview the Burberry chief designer and creative director Christopher Bailey, was just normally bad-tempered, but the second, to try and get word with Harry Styles, the pin-up in 1D, was brutal; a maelstrom of flailing arms, shoved bodies and sharp elbows. The gods of celebrity must have been smiling at me, for somehow I found myself at the front of this brawl, and, bumped and jostled as I was, I started asking some dumb questions about London fashion week and what it was like for Harry watching his girlfriend Cara Delevigne walking the catwalk (yes, he loves London Fashion Week and no, he doesn’t get nervous for Cara).
As I was doing so, a Japanese camera crew squeezed in next to me had their camera knocked to the ground in the melee. It broke into several pieces on the hard floor. They screamed oriental abuse at the Korean perpetrator of the crime, and the Korean perpetrator screamed back.
At this stage, with the crisp odor of journalistic adrenalin rising all around us, and the clear threat of a breakdown of the societal norms that prevent us all tearing each other limb from limb at the slightest provocation, the female PR supposedly protecting Harry called time on our chat and started, with some violence, cutting a path to the door, dragging Harry behind her by the hand.
Harry was gone. What had all that been about? We journalists left behind looked at each other, smiled in shy in embarrasment, and then the Koreans knelt down and helped the Japanese pick up their camera and clip it back together.
Even for someone like me, who has worked among the crazy insanity of celebrity for many years, the frenzy and chaos that surrounds Harry Styles wherever he goes – up close he is just a sweet, totally overwhelmed kid with pimples and very fluffy hair who talks … quite … slowly – is breathtaking.
A heaving sea of female desire rages around 1D, and Harry in particular. This hormonal hurricane is not just restricted to the usual boyband demographic of teenagers and young girls. Because Harry has a record of dating women significantly older than himself – at the age of 17 he dated the 33-year-old British TV presenter Caroline Flack – the 1D fantasy is, happily for their record label, as much fun for many 30-something’s as it is for the tweens.
Yes, but still, Princess Diana?
Well, why not?
It has been often said that Princess Diana was the most photographed woman in the world, but with more photos taken in the last year than have been taken in the entire history of the camera before that, I’d wager Harry Styles will have been photographed a multiple of the number of times that Diana’s image was captured by the time the tide of fame starts going out for him (probably some time next year).
Plus, the song is catchy and rich with emotion which, although it may be ersatz, is pop perfection. It's impossible not to sing along to.
I feel sure that Diana would have loved it.