Two Blondes: Cindy Beale and Princess Diana
By Suzanne Morine
How can Cindy Beale compare with Princess Diana?
Both were striking blondes, holding title to a variety of compelling smiles, outfits, and
Surprisingly, both also managed to be lovely, considerate mums. They each
had an older sister and two sons. (Okay, Cindy also had two sons and a daughter while Di
also had a brother and another sister.)
Di and Cindy were both British and were both based
in London at least some of the time. Each also travelled to other countries, sometimes
with their children (okay, Cindy kidnapped hers).
Both women had difficult marriages.
Their husbands were successful men who did not stay attentive once settled into married
At first, Di and Cindy tried hard to make their marriages work, including helping
their husbands in their careers. Both women grew increasingly dissatisfied. They had a few
affairs. Each had an affair with a man who was somewhat in their service (Cindy's local
pool lifeguard, Di's riding coach). And two of their men "on the side" were car salesmen
(Cindy's David Wicks and Di's James Gilbey).
Late in her marriage, Cindy had a long, very
passionate affair with her husband's cousin, the unforgettable David Wicks. Di's affair
with her riding coach lasted much longer, about five years. "Yes, I adored him," she once
A tangential similarity is in Di's husband, Charles, who had a long affair with a
woman he has found unforgettable through the decades. Cindy lived in poorer areas than Di,
such as London's East End. But she had one clear advantage over Diana. Cindy was not
hounded by the press. (By the way, the press revealed, in August 1992, a slight connection
between the two women: Di was an EastEnders viewer and did not envy Cindy's situation of
having another man's child.) Di's marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Cindy's was still on
the books upon her death. However, after she hired an assassin to shoot her husband, Ian,
and ran off with their kids to Italy, her marriage was otherwise finished. (Ian survived
the attack and
fleetingly had feelings for Cindy but that was as far as that went.)
Cindy's children were
quite young when she died. Di's children were teenagers upon her death. Cindy's children
were surrounded by caring relatives (including a gran: Pat). Di's children were also
surrounded by such relatives, plus assorted servants, and in posh surroundings. Both sets
of children also had concerned relatives in faraway South Africa! Di's brother, Charles
(the ninth Earl Spencer), lives there with his family and publicly proclaimed he would do
all he could for Diana's kids.
Cindy's kids' Gran, Kathy, also lives in South Africa, with
her son and brother. She presumably has frequent phone and letter contact with her
grandchildren. Charles Spencer had some surprisingly frank remarks against the royals and
the press at Diana's funeral.
At Cindy's funeral, Barry Evans showed up unexpectedly and
eulogized her surprisingly nicely. He said that Cindy, "never judged me, and she treated
me with respect. And not many people do that. And I'll never forget her for it." Even Ian
had positive sentiments at her funeral: "she was also loving and funny, and she never gave
up because she loved life." At Di's funeral, her brother said, "Diana was the very essence
of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty."
He also remembered, "your wonderfully
mischievous sense of humour with the laugh that bent you double." Both women have been
said to be misunderstood. More sadly, they seemed to misunderstand themselves, at least
while in their twenties. Both Diana and Cindy perished unexpectedly while still young, in
tragic circumstances, and despite being under guard. Cindy died in childbirth, while in
police custody. She had a blood clot in her lung. Di was killed in a horrendous car crash
while fleeing the press. Of those in the car, only her bodyguard survived. The shocked world
mourned both deaths, though the tributes were greater in number and feeling in Di's case.
The reason why is no mystery (though the two were so very similar, as has been shown).
Classism is surely involved but, let's face it, Di was an international ambassador for
good causes (and she was the Princess of Wales), while Cindy was a fictional character
who did nothing much for anyone but her kids and boyfriends, and sometimes her husband.
Both died in their thirties. Diana was born on 1 July 1961 and died at 36.
probably born on 10 May 1967, dying at 31. (The specifics: Cindy was two years older than
Ian, according to the EastEnders Handbook. Walford.net gives Ian's birth date as 2 March
1969. This means 1967 was Cindy's likely birth year. The 9 May 1995 EastEnders episode
revealed that 10 May was her birthday.) Di's life ended at about 4 a.m., on Sunday, 31
August 1997. Cindy's life expired on the evening of Guy Fawkes Day, 5 November 1998 (a
Thursday). They were both buried in their respective ancestral homes. Di's body is laid
to rest in Northamp-tonshire, in Althorp, specifically on an island in the middle of a
Cindy's final resting place is in a cemetery in Devon. A touching detail in Cindy's
story is that her sister and mother are raising Cindy's newborn daughter, whom Ian named
Cindy in her memory: As Earl Spencer said, at Di's funeral, "We will all feel cheated
always that you were taken from us so young, and yet we must learn to be grateful that you
came along at all."
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