Friday, 19 November 2010

Memories of a Princess

Happy news of the Royal engagement this week have , inevitably, brought back memories of the mother that Prince William lost at such an early age. Diana was such a part of life in this country for nearly 20 years that it's still sometimes hard to realise she's no longer here. Pictures of her are still printed frequently (& will be more so now in the run-up to the weddng I have no doubt) and stories still written even 13 years after her death.

She wasn't much older than me, and at the time of her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, I was at that very impressionable, romantic stage....mid-teens....hearts and flowers! She was like a fairy tale to me, I collected cuttings for my scrapbook, analysed & devoured every photograph...in those days, her style was copied endlessly too. My friends and I all had versions of her flicked bobbed haircut, wore similar 'piecrust' collars, blue eyeliner...in some way or other we were all under her spell. My family went to London, to friends who had a flat that overlooked Hyde Park, the night before the wedding - the biggest firework show ever! We had a red, white & blue buffet supper - still have nightmares about dyed blue rice salad! The day itself was hot & sunny...we waited with bated breath for a look at THE dress...and there she was, our dream girl, in a huge puff of clotted cream silk! Some people saw creases - we just saw gorgeousness. I can remember every minute of that day, I videotaped the ceremony & would replay it so often that it ended up crackled & grainy! The obsessions of 14 year old girls can't be underestimated! In 1983, she came to OUR TOWN!! Her red helicopter landed on our school playing field and some of my friends & I skipped a lesson to see her open the new shopping centre in the rain (highly illegal - I hope my mother doesn't read this!) I remember she wore damp, green velvet & a feather in her hat along with that sweet smile!

The years rolled on and everyone knows what happened. The news of her death came to me in the early morning of the day after my Mum's fantastic 60th birthday party. It will always rank as one of the biggest shocks of my life. Gone. Just like that. In the week between that day and the funeral, I went up to London & vsiited Kensington Gardens. I hear people now saying that the events of that week weren't 'real', that the country was gripped by hysteria,that it was all manufactured...well, I was there. And there was nothing manufactured about it. The gardens in front of the palace where she'd lived were, literally, a sea of flowers. Florists vans parked in the road were giving roses away (free) to people...and such silence despite the crowds. Everyone was in shock. I remember seeing a business man, in pinstriped suit,with a briefcase in one hand and a white rose in the other making his way towards the floral mountain. Candles in jars lined the fence. Old ladies,cheeks wet with tears. Our Princess gone. No more Diana.

Life goes on...years pass. can it be so long since we last saw her? And now one of her beloved boys is to marry, and the sight of his mother's engagement ring (an iconic object in my 14 year old eyes!) on his beautiful fiancee's finger has brought her back once more. How she would have loved news of this wedding. Her sons are her lasting tribute and the contribution she made to their early lives can only be good for our monarchy, I think.

Congratulations to William & Catherine. And I offer up a silent toast to Diana. Because I miss her still.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, i love hearing your memories of this. my memories are from across the pond, but i will never forget the day she passed and the sadness and silence that was felt all over the world. She was amazing. What a lovely tribute to her you have here on your blog.

    I hope you're having a lovely November and getting ready for holiday cheer;).

    xoxo,
    Blair

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  2. Rachel dear,

    THIS WAS LOVELY. I saw everything so vividly through your eyes. What an influence she had on everyone, but most importantly on her sons who seemed to retain the very best of her.

    I am thrilled with the news too. So fun for a commoner to watch the pomp and circumstance.

    Sending love to you, Paul, and of course sweet Alice,

    S

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  3. hello my sweet friend...so HAPPY to see you today and what a pleasure to come here and read this lovely post. i was married in 1981...at a courthouse...in a flannel dress...and then to see Diana in the BEAUTIFUL wedding in July of 1981. i just couldn't beleive my eyes ...how could anything be that beautiful..i was breathless.

    it will be fun seeing her oldest son marrying...i am wishing ALL THE BEST for them, as well...

    we have plenty of turkey for you and paul and sweet, sweet alice...wish you lived closer....

    sending love to all of you today...
    kary, john and my sweet little TEDDY
    :-)
    xxx

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  4. Hello! Thank you for these memories. My husband is from England and we were in London when Fergie and Andrew announced their engagement. We were standing outside the gates of Buckingham Palace and I saw men with walkie talkies and thought, hmmm..someone must be coming...sure enough, Princess Diana drove right past me (I could have reached out and touched the car she was so close). She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I'm not sure if all the photographs of her even do her justice. I'm sure you would agree.
    Kay Guest

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  5. I am LOVING your blogs and anxiously anticipating your cookbook as well! I see Alice on the cupcake rug- I have it, too! Purchased it in Martha's Vineyard when we were there in October....
    ahhhhh Diana- so tragic. What a beautiful woman led into a loveless marriage- I do hope that some of her days were filled with love before her tragic accident. The world loved her and I do believe that her son's wedding will reignite that spirit of her life. I do hope that he publicly gives some credit to her-I know she must have adored her 2 sons.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Joann in USA

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  6. Just read your post. I remember loving Princess Diana aswell! Although I didn't watch her wedding on TV, I watched it replayed many times after. I was only 5 when she married, but I remember seeing her on television and all the good things she was doing with her new fame & title. She was like a mother teresa to me - going to visit children in our Toronto hospitals, countless acts of goodness. I do recall watching her funeral on tv, that I will never forget!! I cried from beginning to end, her death was one of the biggest shocks in my life. I thought she was a wonderful, beautiful, inspirational woman. What a loss for this world! I really enjoyed reading your post.

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  7. Yes Rachel, I felt the same way. She was one of the world's bright stars. It seems she's become an easy target for ridicule by some mean minded people these days. I remember the utter desolate desperation felt by so many during that dark time. She would have been proud of her boys. xxxx

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  8. hi rachel and sweet alice...stopping by to say HI ... it was so GOOD to see you at Farmhouse when i woke up this morning...seeing you made me smile :-)

    sending love to you and alice,
    kary and teddy
    xxx

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  9. I have to confess, I never liked Diana much. I was never impressed by her and while the event of her death was in itself shocking, I never grieved her. But then again I am a staunch republican (http://vraiefiction.blogspot.com/2009/06/garter-ceremony.html).

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  10. I loved her too Rachel. I remember getting up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding and was so taken with everything she did in her short life.
    The love she had for her children and the children of the world was so moving.
    So sorry she died so very young and know she would be so proud of her sons.
    I'll be losing sleep again next June when William marries, remembering fondly his mother's wedding day many years ago.
    Now it's time to go get some tissue to wipe away my tears.xxoo

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