Diana’s time in Scot­land was a mix­ture of joy and heart­break

● She was loved by Scots, and no stranger to the coun­try, but her feel­ings were clearly poi­soned by the Bal­moral ‘strait­jacket’

The Scotsman - - Around Scotland - By MAR­TYN MCLAUGH­LIN

On the week­end of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, the thou­sands of mourn­ers who packed out Princes Street Gar­dens in Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow’s Ge­orge Square to pay their trib­utes was tes­ta­ment to the re­spect and af­fec­tion she in­spired in many or­di­nary Scots.

But in the wake of her sud­den death, and even dur­ing her short life, doubts emerged over whether the feel­ing was en­tirely mu­tual, de­spite the fact Diana and her fam­ily had Scot­land in their blood.

Her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, di­vided her time be­tween Lon­don and Ar­den­caple House on the Ar­gyll is­land of Seil, even­tu­ally es­chew­ing the for­mer to spend her fi­nal years be­side the Firth of Lorn, while Diana’s grand­mother, Ruth Fer­moy, hailed from the Aberdeen sub­urb of Bield­side.

Though such links en­sured she came north fre­quently as a child, as she en­tered adult- hood – and the glare of public life – it seemed she never had the same nat­u­ral affin­ity for Scot­land as demon­strated her fu­ture mother-in-law or, in­deed, her hus­band-in­wait­ing.

Con­sid­er­ing the ini­tial wel­come she re­ceived once she was part of their fam­ily, few could have truly blamed her. Ahead of her first of­fi­cial en­gage­ment north of the Bor­der, in Fe­bru­ary 1983 to open a new unit at the Royal Hospi­tal for Sick Chil­dren at Yorkhill, the Scot­tish Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a let­ter bomb sent in protest at her visit, a mis­sive which burst into flames in Glas­gow’s City Hall.

Diana, thank­fully, was un­harmed and un­de­terred, and ful­filled her en­gage­ments, even find­ing time to take tea and cake at the home of Bert and He­len Mcallen, an el­derly cou­ple from the city’s Easter­house area, who had writ­ten to the young princess in hope if not ex­pec­ta­tion.

“She wasn’t what my idea of roy­alty was,” Mrs Mcallen con­fided af­ter­wards. “I al­ways thought that roy­alty was a bit snob­bish, but she was like the woman next door.”

It was a per­sonal sen­ti­ment that would soon be recog­nised as public opin­ion, and yet over the years the feel­ing per­sisted that Diana and Scot­land were never quite com­pat­i­ble.

There is some truth in that view, although the Scot­land Diana knew is not one most of its peo­ple would recog­nise. She would, over the years, visit the likes of hos­pi­tals and ship­yards, fac­to­ries and nu­mer­ous char­i­ties – all ob­vi­ous des­ti­na­tions for a high-pro­file royal. Yet for her, the na­tion was largely syn­ony­mous with Bal­moral, the Dee­side es­tate that is a home from home for the Royal Fam­ily – or at least, as Diana would find out, it is for those who are born into it.

In the early days of her re­la­tion­ship with Prince Charles, the young Diana rel­ished the out­door life pro­vided by Bal­moral’s 50,000 acres and spec­tac­u­lar scenery, and she grew par­tic­u­larly fond of stalk­ing. Not even the em­bar­rass­ment of fall­ing in a bog while track­ing one an­i­mal could dim her en­thu­si­asm for the pur­suit or the set­ting. Ac­cord­ing to friends who were in at­ten­dance, she sim­ply got up, scooped the mud off her clothes, and laughed it off. Asked to re­flect at the time on her im­pres­sions of the es­tate, she was ful­some in her praise. “It’s the most beau­ti­ful place in the world,” she cooed.

Pho­to­graphs from an­other trip, which cap­tured her gaz­ing lov­ingly at her royal boyfriend as he fished on the banks of the Dee, let the world know that, de­spite her ten­der years, their re­la­tion­ship was a se­ri­ous one. It was fit­ting there­fore, that once they mar­ried be­fore a watch­ing world, the cou­ple opted to spend part of their glo­be­trot­ting hon­ey­moon at Bal­moral.

It ought to have been one of the hap­pi­est times in Diana’s life, and at the time, it seemed to be just that. Pub­licly, she told mem­bers of the press that she would “thor­oughly rec­om­mend mar­ried life”. In pri­vate, how­ever, it was a dif­fer­ent story en­tirely. Dur­ing the stay, Charles tended to pre­fer his own com­pany, or that of a larger group, but their time as a cou­ple – as new­ly­weds – was fleet­ing.

Nu­mer­ous ac­counts of the pe­riod have claimed it was dur­ing the hon­ey­moon that Diana learned of her hus-

Clockwise from top left: Prince Charles and his fi­ancée Lady Diana Spencer pose while stay­ing at Craigowan Lodge on the Bal­moral Es­tate in May 1981; Princess Diana with Prince Harry on the banks of the River Dee in Au­gust 1987; at­tend­ing the Glas­gow Gar­den Fes­ti­val in 1988; wear­ing a life-jacket while vis­it­ing nu­clear sub­ma­rine HMS Trafal­gar dur­ing a visit to Faslane in Au­gust 1986; ar­riv­ing at Aberdeen air­port with princes Wil­liam and Harry in Au­gust 1989; Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the Brae­mar High­land Games in Septem­ber 1981; wear­ing a wa­ter­proof jacket in the rain dur­ing a visit to the Western Isles in July 1985; Lady Diana Spencer on the Isle of Uist in 1974

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