When Earl Spencer stepped off the pulpit at Westminster Abbey after eulogising his sister, Diana, Princess of Wales, there was a moment of silence. Then came a surprising sound: applause.
And not just a smattering of polite claps either; enthusiastic, resonant, full-hearted applause.
"I've never heard that before," the broadcast commentator said, "for a tribute."
Watch: When a journalist asked Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, a rare question: "Are you ok?"
Earl Spencer's speech at the princess' 1997 funeral spoke to her singular appeal, but it also spoke truth to the devastating power of the tabloid press and the "anguish" and "tearful despair" caused by their pursuit of her. Throughout her marriage, her 1992 separation, her single life, and into the Paris tunnel where she died in a car crash.
"She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment that she received at the hands of the newspapers. I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling," he said.
"It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this: a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age."
Countless words have been written and spoken about that hunt and the lessons that ought to be learned from it. But it seems they've been ignored.
Because here we are more than two decades later, and another princess with 'genuinely good intentions' is in the crosshairs.
A new generation; a new target.
In January 2020, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband Prince Harry — Princess Diana's youngest son — famously fled to North America with their son, Archie, cutting themselves off from the royal purse in exchange for 'space' and the chance to establish a life on their own terms.
Theirs is the kind of existence that Earl Spencer told mourners his sister would want for her boys: one in which "their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned".
It's the kind of existence that meant the duchess was free to pen an article for The New York Times in November about experiencing a miscarriage.
Yet her good intentions of finding shared experience in what has been a divisive period — physically, socially and politically — were twisted and torn apart. Social media commentary was thick with accusations of attention-seeking, opportunism and hypocrisy.
Not all grief needs to be made public knowledge!! I thought they wanted privacy, yet here they are inviting the world into what should be a private matter. Many mums lose, they dont invite the media in to announce— Tinkerbell 💚✨ (@rivensigns) November 25, 2020