Yesterday, on what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday on Thursday 1st July 2021, like many of you I spent some time thinking about her. The recently unveiled statue which shows children holding her hands says everything. She was a mother and a protector of the vulnerable.
When she first came to public notice as a possible girlfriend for Prince Charles, I thought there was something different about this girl. So did the Royal Family. Charles needed an heir and a spare. Camilla wasn’t going to do that. So it was suggested he marry Diana as she could. Their marriage seemed to be a sham.
Her brother Earl Spencer knew this and subsequently discovered the BBC was complicit in allowing a relatively junior journalist to get an explosive interview with her in 1995 by tricking them both. As we all know, the BBC have since made an “unconditional apology”.
When asked to re-write the words to “Candle in the Wind” for her funeral in 1992, Bernie Taupin wrote:
“Goodbye England’s rose
From a country lost without your soul
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know”
Whilst researching I found this quote from her: “If you find someone you love in your life, hang on to that love”. “Whatever in love means” was his famous answer when Charles was asked if he loved her. Did she love him? Perhaps.
Over the years most have found it in their hearts to forgive Charles and it’s my fervent hope his sons will patch up their differences too as I’m sure their mother would have wanted. But we all have to live with her dreadful passing in a Paris tunnel pursued by paparazzi desperate for a story. They got one.
As you may recall, in the early hours of the 31st of August 1997 she died from injuries sustained in an appalling car crash. Initially she was found to be still alive and so was transported to Pitie-Salpetriere hospital – but pronounced dead there at 4.53am. Of the four occupants of the Mercedes only her bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones survived. His face was smashed and had to be reconstructed using family photographs and 150 pieces of titanium. A subsequent inquest revealed none of the occupants of the car were wearing seat-belts. Diana was 36 years old.
Her face is still used by newspapers to sell them.
I once wrote to her and asked if she would sign a book I own. It is a large hard-backed catalogue called ‘Dresses’. It’s a collection of her wearing the most amazing clothes by her favourite designers which were auctioned in June 1997 by Christies. Her Lady In Waiting politely refused.
However, I am not deterred by refusal. Sadly Catherine Walker died in 2010 from breast cancer. In 2012 I went to her shop in Chelsea and I met Said Ismael. I took my daughter Charlotte and we talked wedding dresses. I’d like to tell you she bought one but she didn’t. Said told me then he was behind the design of many of Diana’s dresses. The Princess was buried in a black dress designed by Walker she had bought weeks before her death. It’s entirely likely Said Ismael was responsible for that dress.
William and Harry had a mother who hugged and loved them. Privately, I’m sure they think about her every day. She is what bonds them. I suspect Diana would have understood why Harry decided to bow out of royal life. No-one wants to serve his country more than he does – but the wellbeing of his wife and children will, quite rightly, always come first.
William will be our king one day. He’s a good bloke. He might be follically challenged but there is no doubt his head is firmly screwed on. Anyone who can sample Irn Bru with his grandmother and keep his face straight gets my vote!
Diana’s boys are doing what she taught them to do. Lead by example, have fun and never let the buggers grind you down.
“And your footsteps will always fall here
Along England’s greenest hills
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will”.
Good Samaritans live in us all.