“Death”, wrote Walter Benjamin, “is the sanction of everything the storyteller can tell” 1 ; “not only a man’s knowledge or wisdom but above all his real life … first assumes transmissible form at the moment of his death”. As a celebrity, Princess Diana (hereafter “Diana”) had, of course, already used the media to reveal the tribulations of her life in her own voice, but this story was further sanctioned by her death: as a media story, it acquired a different kind of authority when its reference-point in “reality” died. Even if we agree with Baudrillard that there are effectively no reference-points in contemporary culture which are not already marked by the media’s influence, the aftermath of Diana’s death represented the “simulacrum” at its most compelling: a “model” whose “reality” it became almost sacrilegious to deny. The events that followed Diana’s death, therefore, offer a remarkable opportunity to study the mechanisms of our media-saturated culture as they operated on a large scale. Once we adopt that entirely necessary distance, we must, I will argue, be sceptical about the idea that the events showed something fundamental had “changed” (in British culture or in anything else). 2