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Sunday, June 26, 2022




book review

(In memory of Princess Diana, Goddess)


‘Ruffian In Waiting’

by James Murray


I was at the MCG with friends watching Collingwood play Kangaroos. My good friend Tony, salt of the earth had been waiting 25 years for his Melbourne Cricket Club membership and it had come through that week. He let us use it because he’d been diagnosed with melanoma and didn’t feel so good. A week later or less the cancer had been discovered in his brain, way way too late to help. We felt it should have been noticed sooner. Tony died. He is greatly missed. It turned out to be one of those weeks.

For the day has other memories. It was 31 August 1997. Or perhaps the next day as Europe is 11 hours or so behind. I was trying to find a broadcast of the game on my mobile phone radio – or maybe it was what we once called a transistor radio. I tried a couple of stations —weird classical music. I tried all the stations. Not just classical but requiems, dirges. WTF?

I turned to some people behind us.

‘What’s going on? The radio is playing classical music. All the stations! There’s no footy.’

‘Diana died.’


‘Princess Diana died today. She was in a car accident in Paris. There was a news bulletin.’

My friends and I looked at each other. Princess Di? Dead? No, could not be. She was so young. She was so decent. She was vibrant. She was beyond these things. Surely. But dead. The game was started, but I couldn’t concentrate.


Diana was gone.

Diana started out a bit dorky when Charles first brought her and her shy self into the glare of the public eye that is the Life of The Royals. They married. People swooned. She had royal blood, a lineage that went further back than Charles or his Mother. Soon she discovered Charles was much less than she had supposed. so was his family. Charles wouldn’t stop sh*gging his paramour Camilla, the one he now squires.

Eventually Diana had a couple of children, you know them well as public images, and she found herself as a supporter of AIDS victims, as a supporter of the war against land mines. She found her own high profile friends. Like Elton John.

I don’t even go to funerals, just wakes sometimes. I never intended to watch the funeral. I flicked the TV on just to see for a moment, what the streets of London looked like. The days before there had been a massive piling of flowers and wreaths left outside Kensington Palace, though which palace in truth I don’t remember. I think that’s where she lived.


So the TV showed so many people. Lining the streets of the route of the funeral procession. Millions of people. People ten deep, 20 deep, all along the roads. I stayed watching. I was watching two hours later or whenever they got to the cathedral and Tony Blair quoted St Paul, that beautiful passage from Corinthians 13:12/13…

“Now we see as through a glass darkly; but later face to face. Now I know some; then I shall know all, even as I am known. For these remain: faith, hope, and charity; yet the greatest of these is charity — love.” (my translation via KJV)

I watched the lot. It was very moving and it had become obvious to even the emotionally unsighted, that Diana the Princess had transcended being ‘a Royal’ and entered the pantheon of Athena, Aphrodite and all the other glamorous stars. Diana had become a goddess.


Which brings me to this book, a novel about a dangerous time in Diana’s life.

It’s clearly written by someone who was either a palace insider, or someone who knew a palace insider, or someone who did very very good research. It has a fervent Palace realism. The author is James Murray, a journalist who has been in print here and in Angleterra as well as all over the world. James began his reporting career in the Glasgow Herald in the 1950 and went on from there. He’s been in SAustraia for many years, plying his trade, journalism and fiction. He is currently with family, living in Sydney.

Now this novel Ruffian in Waiting, is set in 1993 and I quote from the book cover, ‘a singular hazardous event in 1993 when HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, and his Princess wife were separated…Diana reportedly came to believe she was the target for an assassination plot.’

I dislike revealing plot of a novel, and this is a successful thriller about a fascinating character and those who might have wished her harm, for reasons the reader will be lead to understand.

It was an unusual plot, and it would seem, a difficult one, about a larger-than-life and much-loved person, and I admit some trepidation upon beginning the journey into this fiction. But I did not simply endure the novel, I enjoyed it a lot. I commend it to the reader.