The Queen’s tribute to Princess Diana: Discourse and rhetoric analysis of the Queen’s speech at Diana’s tragic death

by Frida Margareta Ryden

Institution: University of Iceland
Year: 2015
Keywords: Enska
Record ID: 1221700
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/21052


The death of Princess Diana affected a whole world. She was the “People’s Princess” and still today her legacy lives on. Diana’s death contributed to a nation gathering in grief while the British monarchy faced its worst crisis in modern time. The royal family was harshly criticised for their lack of commitment. When the situation was no longer endurable, the Queen was forced to actions and on September 5th 1997 she delivered her speech “The Queen’s tribute to Princess Diana.” The speech became the turning point in restoring the monarchy’s damaged reputation. The main purposes of this thesis are to examine how Queen Elizabeth II exercised power through language and what her true intentions really were when delivering the speech. Moreover, the Queen’s persuasive strategies are studied in order to acknowledge her verbal and nonverbal methods. I have focused on two approaches when analysing the Queen’s speech. The first approach is a critical discourse analysis based on Norman Fairclough’s three dimensional model. The second approach is Aristotle’s three rhetoric appeals: ethos, pathos and logos, and how they encourage identification as well as nonverbal strategies. A critical discourse analysis enables us to study how language and discourses are used in texts and social contexts and how they influence each other. Furthermore the sociocultural and historical context is described in order to explain the relationship between Princess Diana and the British monarchy followed by social constructionism to understand why our ideas are in fact historically and culturally related to the way we understand the world and how it has been constructed by people before us. The result of this thesis shows that a monarchy’s survival is not depending on the institution itself but on the character of the monarch and her or his ability to exercise power through language and appearance.