Lady Di…Once Upon a Fairytale.

Once upon a time, a little girl with her hair in plaits and eyes full of dreams, watched as a magical fairytale unfolded on TV. Prince Charles was engaged to Lady Diana Spencer. Indeed, there was Diana fever and every single magazine around the world flashed Lady Di’s face on the cover. Moreover, as photographers pursued “Lady Di” like a frightened deer, millions watched on, including the little girl, entranced by her beauty and even the fairytale itself. Consciously, and even unconsciously, millions were swept up into this unconventional fairytale, where the not-so-handsome, big-eared Prince, had fallen in love with the shy, young kindergarten teacher hiding behind her fringe.

Charles & Di Wedding collage.JPG

 

The Royal Wedding, with all its pomp and circumstance, was held on the 29th July, 1981 the day before the little girl’s 12th birthday, when she was delighted to receive the commemorative stamps. Indeed, in the lead up to the big day, the little girl had been cutting up magazines and newspapers and pasting them into an exercise book with her school logo of the front. She might’ve lived in Sydney on the opposite side of the world, but she lived and breathed Lady Di, and now had concrete proof fairytales really could come true. Meanwhile, thanks to “Gran”, her friend ended up with a Lady Diana haircut…

Rowena 1981

Here I am aged 12 back in 1981.

The little girl knew everything there was to know about Diana. Indeed, there was nothing she didn’t know about the Royal couple. It was all in her book.

Princess Diana and Charles carriage

So, it will come as no surprise, that the little girl was glued to the TV set when Lady Diana Spencer arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral in her magical horse-drawn carriage wearing “The Dress”. If you were there, as in parked in front of your own TV set, you’ll also remember that moment when Lady Diana turned to the crowds with her dazzling smile and waved. It was a moment frozen in time. Who could not but fall in love with the beautiful Princess?

As we now know, almost the entire world was in love with Lady Diana Spencer, except her Prince.

Indeed, an invisible worm had infiltrated the dreams of England’s Rose and William Blake’s famous poem almost seems prophetic:

The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night

In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

William Blake

Princess Diana engagement

Interesting body language here.

However, right from the beginning, the clues were there. Even while they were announcing their engagement, Charles let it slip in an interview. When he said he was “just delighted and happy”, the interviewer sought further clarification, “And I suppose in love?”Charles’s reply is now haunting:  “WHATEVER ‘in love’ means.” Diana instantly replied, “Of course,” with a grimace and an eye roll. “Yes,” she giggled. Then Charles added: “Put your own interpretation on it,” as a feeble attempt to cover himself.

Perhaps, he’d hoped that love would come. However, as we now know, the Prince wasn’t in love with the beautiful, kindergarten teacher. Rather, he was still in love with Camilla, who for better or worse, has often been cast as the Wicked Witch in this fractured fairytale. However, the little girl knew nothing about all of that back then, and neither did the shy kindergarten teacher. Rather, she had found her Prince.

DSC_6183.JPG

Twenty years after Diana’s death, it is hard to fathom that sense of Diana Fever which engulfed the world. It’s impossible for me to explain it to my kids, because there’s nothing like it. There’s no one like her either. She was omnipresent. There was the Lady Di hair cut, the Lady Di collar with the bow around the neck, THE Wedding Dress, I’m not doing to touch all the dirt that came up during the divorce and so much more. Then, there was her funeral. Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey[1] , the British television audience peaked at 32.10 million (one of the United Kingdom’s highest viewing figures ever.[2]), and two billion people traced the event worldwide.[3] This makes Diana’s funeral one of the most watched events in history – Wikipaedia.

Somehow, the fairytale became so all-consuming, that it became one-size fits all. So many people wanted a piece of her, until there was almost nothing left for herself. Well, that’s how the theory goes. No one can keep giving and giving or even worse having themselves constantly taken away, particularly without their consent, without fading away and dying on the inside. Indeed, in some kind of reverse fairytale, couldn’t it be possible that every time the princess’s photo was taken and her image was stolen away, that her sparkle started to fade on some parallel portrait, just like Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Grey? That by the time of her death, that the Princess’s portrait had completely disappeared, with nothing left but the last veil?

diana and boys.JPG

Yet, that was not Diana. Rather, she rebuilt herself. While I don’t profess to be any kind of expert, it’s not difficult to infer that Diana found meaning and a zest for living through being “Mummy” to her boys. Recently, William and Harry have spoken out about losing their Mother, and shared her great sense of humour and how much fun they had with her. What losing her, has meant to them.

There was also her charity work, which was so much more than sipping cups of tea and attending cocktail parties. Indeed, she was quite a revolutionary and physically went to places angels feared to tread.

In April 1987, she shook hands with a man living with HIV/AIDS without gloves, while opening the UK’s first purpose built HIV/Aids unit at London’s Middlesex Hospital. While this might not seem a big deal now, at the time, AIDS was the new leprosy. Touching someone with AIDS, was a ground breaking act. With that single gesture, Diana showed that people living with HIV/AIDS needed compassion and understanding, not fear and ignorance. So it went, that if Princess Diana wasn’t afraid of shaking hands with someone living with HIV/AIDS or cuddling an affected child, we could do it too. It wasn’t going to kill us. She broke down some pretty major barriers on that front. As I said, her actions and deeds were revolutionary, making such a difference. It wasn’t just words and playing it safe.

Diana Landmine.jpg

It was the same with her support for banning of landmines. While this remains an important issue, back in 1997, even the British army still kept land mines in its arsenal The Princess was a benefactor of the nongovernmental organization: the Hazardous Areas Life-Support Organization, or HALO.  On Jan. 15, 1997,  she walked through an active minefield in Angola, and detonated a mine in front of an audience of international reporters, with the help of a land mine removal expert. “I did not want to be on the front page of the news the next day,” that mine removal expert, Paul Heslop, recently told the BBC, “as the man who’d blown up Princess Diana.”

Although Diana died a few months later, her efforts saw the UK ratify the international convention banning land mines the following year. Today, 80 percent of the world’s countries have signed on to the treaty. Among the countries yet to ratify the international ban on land mines are China, Russia and the United States.

So, despite her divorce, it seems Diana still believed in fairytales and in trying to make the world a more loving, safer place. Not only that, she took action and worked hard towards those goals, to the point of risking her own safety. Indeed, she was the Queen of Hearts who worked with love, compassion, drive and wasn’t afraid of stepping out and challenging her own fears to make a difference. Moreover, you can see this legacy living on through Prince Harry’s work with the Invictus Games, which use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.

That is the Diana I choose to celebrate and honour now. The survivor and trail blazing revolutionary, who truly carpe diem seized the day and changed the world around her using love and influence. Sure, she had issues, but I’m not about to cast the first stone. My house is well and truly made of glass.

Meanwhile, my precious exercise book with the school logo on the front and Diana inside, is somewhere up in the attic. Although it’s a bit cringy-worthy these days, especially as I am an  Australian Republican, it’s still precious. It took a lot of hard work reading, cutting out and pasting to produce that book, and it’s as much a tribute to that little girl. Moreover, I still believe in Princess Diana and all she’s left behind. That’s because when you put all the hoopla aside, Princess Diana remains a truly remarkable woman…an eternal inspiration.

Is there anything you would like to say about Diana? Any memories? Please share them in the comments. 

By the way, I just found this article which goes to show I wasn’t the only one with a Diana scrapbook: Royal Weddings

xx Rowena

15 thoughts on “Lady Di…Once Upon a Fairytale.

  1. pensitivity101

    We kept all the newspaper cuttings and a video of the tv broadcast of her funeral, but they were disposed of when we moved in 2007.
    IMO, Diana was an amazing individual and an asset to The Royal Family. She got a bum deal and fought back. Perhaps not in the best way, but she didn’t shrink away into the background to lick her wounds. Camilla will never light a spark of the light that was Diana, but saying that, she is making her own way. She had the sense to take a back seat and not push herself forward into everyone’s face.
    It’s hard to believe it is 20 years ago that she died. Everyone has their own theory, myself included. I am not a royalist by any means, but I like William and Kate with their two youngsters. Diana may not have seen herself as Queen of our country, but her son will most certainly make a good King (my opiion of course).

  2. Rowena Post author

    I agree with you about William being a good King. It would be a very difficult job and hard not being your own person.
    What you said about Camilla was very astute. I hadn’t thought about that before and that was a wise move. I am curious to see how much long the Queen will be around for and it will be weird for Charles starting his job when most of his peers are starting to retire. That said, he’s probably doing a lot already and I noticed that William is stepping up, not that the Duke of Edinburgh has retired at the grand age of 96…not that I’ve been following the Royal Family. It just tat it becomes rather hard not to.

  3. pensitivity101

    I have a somewhat weird thought that Charles may not be King at all (Camilla or not) and the crown will go to William instead, especially if the Queen should abdicate. Stranger things have happened, and Charles is ‘getting on’.

  4. utesmile

    That is a lovely post. I followed it all too and I always found Diana a remarkable woman. It is lovely to read about her again. I also do hope that William is going to be King, he will be good. I think The Queen will do it as long as possible health wise, she won’t abdicate, if not absolutely necessary.

  5. Tails Around the Ranch

    Like you (though much older-whince), I was captivated by the beautiful princess. At the time I co-owned a hardware story and we happily broadcast the wedding on all the TVs in the electronics dept. for our customers to watch. Overtime she was in the news I followed her and was hypnotized by the tragic weekend of her death and funeral. A sad end for the fairytale. One of my co-workers was a Scottish woman who parents were fortunate to meet her at a hospital. When she shared the photo of the Princess ministering to a patient, I could not stop thinking about this beautiful (both inside and outside) woman. While I’ve often thought the Prince was (and still is despite his environmental advocacy) a lout and a fool, at least Princess Di’s legacy lives on in her two sons who exemplify her generous spirit. She was a remarkable human and continues to touch lives from her all too-short of a life.

  6. Rowena Post author

    Monika, that is so well put. I really enjoyed reading this and sharing it with you.
    BTW Lady has moved on from the Governor’s dog. I was pulling up from dropping my daughter at the station and spotted a dog off the lead in the street. It was one of those moment where you spot potential trouble and instead of following up and acting on it, you let it slide. We don’t have a front fence. So when Lady gets out of the car, she shoots down the street with this random grey scruffian. I go get get my son so we can jump in the car and he can help me nab her, but he runs out the door and heads the other way. Admittedly, that’s usually the direction Lady goes. There are quite a few alleyways here and so we’re prowling around looking for her and just when I told my son that we’d have to wait for her to come back or wait for the phone call, we found her sitting at the back gate. Scallywag.
    I’m thinking she actually knew this dog quite well from some of her previous outings!
    So much for a quiet morning!
    xx Ro

  7. Rowena Post author

    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I must admit I was pretty impressed with Prince Phillip retiring at the grand age of 96.
    I think having the Queen live to such an old age has allowed the Royal family to spread the workload. If Charles does become King, which I presume he will, he’ll be taking up the role when most people are retiring. He’s currently 68 and with the longevity genes in the family, likely to be around for awhile.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    xx Rowena

  8. willowdot21

    She was all you say and more. Maybe not as innocent as people think. We all need to be careful what we wish for. But she did bloom and she did good work and brought her boys up well. 💜🌹

  9. Cayman Thorn

    I still remember the night she was stolen from us. I turned on CNN and there was breaking news of an accident involving Diana. My sister called me and we stayed on the phone, watching together. When the news came down that Diana had died, it was surreal. Her loss still feels that way for me.

    I love this post because it celebrates a beautiful life, and it’s what I always take from the memories of her. How she raised those boys to be fine young men. How she prevailed upon the world to pay attention to the horrors of this world. How she made Camelot a real place, for all of us.

    Thank you for this wonderful post.

    Peace

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Cayman. I really get quite angry with some of the rot the media’s dredged up for the 20th anniversary of her death. So disrespectful. I still remember being in a bookshop with a friend in Sydney and it was like being hit by a truck, which drove straight through me. I’ve never forgotten the envelope with Mummy sitting on top of the coffin. I treasure every envelope my kids have ever written that on. Makes you appreciate the small stuff.
    Peace to you too, Cayman and our world.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

  11. Rowena Post author

    I think it’s dangerous to turn any human being into a saint and most villains aren’t all one-sided either.
    The other thing is that for so many of us she was part of us growing up and became part of our own story. I don’t know how many wished they were marrying Charles, but there was the whole fairytale that went with the wedding and that magical moment when she stepped out of the carriage in the dress. Perhaps, it should have been done as a movie. Would’ve been cheaper.

  12. willowdot21

    Funnily enough a friend and I were talking about this today. Charles has been unlucky as he was trained to be a king from a small child. He was sent away to school at young age and was not over liked by his father who he couldn’t please. He is not liked because of Diana, he should of married Camila years ago…. I wondered who put the spoke in there. I doubt Charles will ever be king. Back to the subject in hand Diana had her faults and also made no attempt to hide her feelings or keep her problems private..
    No one is all good or all bad. I certainly don’t think she is one. She was young and to a point unstable.

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