The Princess of Wales: life as a star

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Royal superstardom has not been an easy experience for Diana, Princess of Wales, but she admits the problem and believes she is getting on top of it. At the end of a grueling tour of Canada in the company of Charles, Prince of Wales, the young woman who switched rapidly from being a kindergarten teacher to the wife of the heir to the British throne has spoken frankly about her need to grow up fast in a world dominated by the mass media and to cope with the pressures of top-celebrity status.

''I am finding it very difficult to cope with the pressures of being Princess of Wales - but I am learning to cope with it,'' she said. ''I have learned a lot in the last few months, particularly the last three or four.''

Diana has had a tough time with the media hordes who pursue her around Britain and on her visits overseas. Occasionally her guard has slipped, as early in the Canadian trip, when she complained to a local journalist about ''wolf-pack journalism'' and found her supposedly private remarks picked up by newspapers, television, and radio stations around the world.

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For a while after the royal wedding, Fleet Street (the London press) and the London-based overseas press gave Diana a respite, but soon the pressures began building again.

The princess was photographed looking bored at a polo match in which her husband was playing. She turned up inexplicably late for a gala occasion at which Queen Elizabeth II was present.

A winter ski holiday in Europe was spoiled as photographers, mainly from continental news magazines, pursued Charles and Diana down the slopes, snapping every royal fall.

The reaction of Buckingham Palace to the growing pressure was initially to maintain stiff upper lips all around. Then it became known that Charles and Diana and other members of the royal family were asking for Fleet Street to show restraint.

Fleet Street editors were invited to the palace for consultation, and most agreed to a moratorium on excessive curiosity into the life of the young royals, particularly Diana.

In her remarks in Canada, the princess said a turning point for her was a six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand this spring. The world's press was in attendance, as usual, but the itinerary was more leisurely than usual.

Also Prince William, heir to the throne, traveled to the antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) with his parents. William was not in the touring party, but at intervals Charles and Diana returned to him to spend a relaxing weekend.

Toward the end of the Australian leg of the trip, Diana began to seem more confident as she shook hands and smiled interminably during visits to schools, hospitals, and sporting events.

Then came Canada and a 17-day itinerary with visits to six of the country's provinces. In conversation with the premier of Newfoundland, Brian Peckford, Diana outlined the difficulties of her role. Later Mr. Peckford was authorized to speak about their conversation.

Being royalty in Britain is not easy for other members of the nation's first family. Photographers seem to delight in catching Prince Charles falling off a horse or looking bored at public occasions. His sister, Princess Anne, has often attracted sharp press treatment because of her seemingly lofty manner and undeniably sharp tongue. His younger brother Andrew has a reputation in Fleet Street for close attention to the ladies, to the point where the Queen has reportedly spoken firmly to him.

Diana's position is even more exposed. As consort to the man destined to succeed to the throne, she is under intense scrutiny whenever she appears in public. She started with no experience with the media and was dropped in at the deep end of royal family public activities.

Despite her inexperience, Premier Peckford says, Diana is coming through fine as a superstar after a rough first two years.

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