Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Diana

I can't believe Princess Di would have turned 53 yesterday, half a year older than me. Like many women of my age I felt a huge connection with her for some reason, even though theoretically I don't believe in royalty (although who doesn't like a tiara?) Living in London, I used to often dream that she'd chosen me as a friend and I saved her from her loneliness.

In 1997 at the ballet
Couldn't resist this one of her: she made getting out of the car an art form

She also had this suit in lime green. I had the same one in purple, bought it before her (I think).
She also had this suit in lime green.
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Me (centre) in same suit. At Kevin's 30th, 18 years ago. (Kevin owned 1% of this Chelsea club which went under soon after this photo was taken. Turned out the bartender was an alky and the manager was a gambler)

She was utterly stunning and like all of us, flawed. Living in London at the time (with 12 national newspapers) you were better acquainted with the ins and outs; in the US people only remember her as the perfect Lady Di. Charisma by the bucketloads she looked equally comfortable in frills or sleek satin gowns, huge hair or wet hair, suits or shorts. I lived and worked across from Kensington Palace and we would see her walk past in that Ralph Lauren cap.

As I've already bored you with in this blog, I only once saw her close up -  at a restaurant where she was having lunch with Clive James. When she left to go, she stood for quite some time and looked around at us all: she was in a lemon-yellow knit twinset and matching skirt which would have looked hideous on anyone else. She seemed incredibly tall and slim, with a very long face and enormous blue eyes. She was taller, thinner, bluer, bonder, shinier than any photo taken of her - her hair and skin just gleamed. She lit up the room and paled any model I'd met up until then or since.

She was full of contradictions - and so was what we felt about her. Much was made of her title of People's Princess and that she was just like us, when in fact it was said that she had stronger lineage than Charles.

I remember my editor once returning from lunch with Princess Diana. My editor was initially incredibly excited that she had snippets and gossip which she could turn into stories, but in fact when she sat down at her computer she had nothing. It was all just funny asides that had felt like confidences.

Diana had a push and pull relationship with the press. Photographer friends said she'd call them about where she was, or pause for that moment outside restaurants so they could get a good shot of her. But some photographers would call out: "Look over here Diana! I need to pay my son's school tuition" and spoil it for the rest of them. None of us can imagine the isolation and the exhileration she must have gone through in a day.

Speaking of royalty and icons, just saw this picture. A meeting of the Queen and Marilyn, they were both the same age, so Marilyn would have been 88 if she'd lived.

The Queen and Marilyn Monroe

Strange post today from me, feeling in a weird mood. People said they felt totally discombobulated after Diana died and maybe mention of her does the same. Or maybe it's this odd 110 to 50 degrees weather shift. Promise to be sharper for the 4th July.


45 comments:

  1. Well I love the royalty (Canada is still relatively pro-royal) and I will always miss Diana. I think she modernized the monarchy, though not sure that if it wasn't her it wouldn't have been someone else - the times, they were a-changin'

    I saw her in 1982. She was spectacular. People often paint her as a victim, though I think that does her a disservice. I think she was just young; we forget what being 19 was like in 1981. I sure as hell knew next to nothing. We were after all, the children of people born in the 30s - there was still lots of repression! Marilyn would be 88? I bet she would have been a hell of a dame...

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    1. She used her unbelievable starpower power for good, lots of good, and to highlight previously "unfashionable" issues like Aids and landmines.
      Opposite of K$shians.

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  2. We are all more than happy to be 'bored' by your thoughts. The Queen and MM look stunning in the photo. And, you are a beautiful Di look-alike in that shot....it's the hair, isn't it? We all loved it. I remember when Di and Dodi were in the accident, a rather boisterous male friend rang me and burst out with, 'Di's dead!' down the receiver. I actually have never forgiven him for telling me in that way. Still sad and can't believe it.
    Get your mojo back. We need you. Xx

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    1. Hi FF! I had that haircut for years and i'm not sure why, unless it was wet it didn't actually look that great, my hair was too thick and dry and it just stuck out at all angles, I'm not sure why I just didn't grow it out. Stubbornness or lack of imagination I guess. ..
      I remember many woman including Julia Carling had the same hair do and there were comparisons which was awkward (for her, not me)

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  3. She was lovely. Sad she never saw her adorable grandson. You look the same: must have some sort of magic potion!!

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    1. Kim Crawford. No, sadly my neck tells a different story.

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  4. Yeah the heat does seem to be jumping away at every bay. Can't say i knew a whole lot about her before this. But yeah that kind of isolation had to stink indeed

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  5. I tend to see everyone as just regular folks. I can not imagine what it would be like to be hounded by the press and always having to look just right...good thing I am not or there would surely be a picture of me digging my underwear out of my ass. On other news I have started reading the obits and counting the people within five years of my age. I also watch the birds and will soon begin doing my family tree...this ageing thing sucks. At least I have not purchased a weekly pill plastic container thingie yet.

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    1. I have been seeing pics on Facebook of old 'varsity friends emerging from cancer wards, sad.

      Yes, the tackle box of pills. Not doing that either... yet.

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  6. Diana was so gorgeous and captivating. It must have been quite a life. I felt awful when she died - as if I'd lost a friend. Seeing her boys grow up without her is bittersweet as they seem like wonderful young me. Hearing of her car crash is one of those things I will always remember - we were having dinner out and on the tv over the bar the crash was breaking news. Odd how we remember events about total strangers but I can't remember which friend I told what story to.

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  7. I felt a huge connection to her, too, and I am so glad to find this post (new reader).

    What a difficult life she had and I admired her so much for her warmth and strength and how much good she did in the world while managing her in-law's disapproval and her husband's disloyalty.

    Did anyone else compare Kate's situation to Diana's as Kate and Will courted? What a difference it makes to have a strong, loving family behind you. What a difference it makes when your partner prioritizes your well-being.

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    1. Hi NES - welcome to the blog, thanks for coming over! Hard to believe the situation she found herself in at the age of 19. Awful to think of when it actually dawned on her that there were three in the marriage. (and everyone in the family knew except for her) The engagement video of him saying "whatever love is" and her smiling and nodding embarrassed in agreement was so ominous looking back.

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  8. Jody, Wow! you look fab in the Di purple suit.

    As Wendy mentions above she was 19 when all of this happened to her and her family background wasn't a good emotional foundation either. Clearly she had some issues and needed someone in her life she could trust that could give her better guidance without an ulterior motive.

    I always judge people first on how loving and devoted they are to people closest to them and I thought Diana to be a very loving devoted mum to her sons and they've turned out rather well given their circumstances.

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    1. I wonder how much she was allowed to see her sons after they went to boarding school, must have been sad.

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  9. Loved this post!

    She was flawed but she had star wattage.

    I was in a nursery when she died and the lady in the office let me use the landline to call my friend. I cried so much. I left work at 11 o the Monday because I just couldn't take it anymore. My marriage was ending at the time so I was feeling fragile. I miss seeing what would have become of her.

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    1. Star wattage alright. I think her style was just getting better and better, And she was realising how much she could achieve.
      I was two weeks overdue with Harley when she died and the days after her death Mum and I would walk over the road to Kensington Park and see all the flowers and the masses of visitors to the gates it was eery, people were quite silent and stunned.

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  10. I remember the night she died. It came on the news somewhere around midnight. I sat on the end of our bed and just stared at the TV while they showed footage of the carnage surrounded by police and ambulances and firetrucks. It seemed surreal somehow.

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    1. It somehow is when a living icon dies because they gain some sort of immortality.

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  11. Hello Jody,

    Well, we are no royalists and it is a source of continued amazement to us that, somehow the British royal family always seem to be able to pull out a wedding or a baby to save them from extinction. Whatever the hardships may be one cannot deny that these are lives of immense privilege which do not pay too much attention or have too much in common with the lives of their subjects.

    Diana was indeed something of a phenomenon. Nearly everyone can remember where they were or what they were doing at the time of her death which is strangely eerie. In our view she was manipulating and manipulated but, then, there is no thing as a free lunch and life is not fair. Whatever, it is odd to be reminded that she would have been 53 as she is now immortalised as for ever young. Another strangeness.....

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    1. Hi Hattatts,

      Immense privilege and immense wealth. I wonder when the day will come when they are asked relinquish all those jewels and money to the state to finance education. I know our friends in Sweden did that, not sure how many other families followed suit.
      In reality relinquishing castles that don't come with a good bundle of money for upkeep could be draining on the state, though I wonder if the success of Downton Abbey has helped that.
      I once read a description of someone who lived in one of those castles who said living with servants was exhausting. If you tried to do anything for yourself the servants would sulk for days. You couldn't even got into the kitchen and make yourself a piece of toast.
      Happy to stick a life sans castles and servants....(off to make myself some toast and marmalade...)

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  12. I read an excellent book about Diana's death called "The Cut Out" by Jon King. Here's the product description on Amazon:
    "He said he was a retired Special Forces Green Beret, a CIA runner, so I knew the information he had was potentially explosive. But even so, I never imagined he would tell me what he did: that someone of global renown, “within days from now”, would be assassinated, and that the hit would be made to look like an “accident”. Why tell me? A low-key conspiracy journalist? I didn’t know. And quite frankly, I didn’t believe him, either—until a week later, when the “accident” happened ... that's when the nightmare began.

    Based on a true story."

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    1. Oh intriguing. And fact is stranger than fiction. It was an unusual car crash in that the driver survived.

      I read a great book by Monica Ali called Untold Story, fictional, where a princess, besieged and tortured by the press, fakes her own death and goes to live in a small town in the Midwest in the US. (She dyes her hair and wears brown contact lenses). So well written and about the lure of fame and public life. She got a lot of her research from the Tina Brown book which is apparently the best thing written on Diana.


      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/books/untold-story-by-monica-ali-review.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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  13. She did a lot of great things whilst alive....though now I only feel sad for the sons she left behind and the grandson she didn't get to meet, it's them that matter the most in this tragedy, it was them that knew who she really was. The boys were far too young to have lost their mother. x

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    1. She really brought a lot of attention to a lot of good causes, so right

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  14. Definitely not a royalist, but I always felt sorry for her. I think she actually believed in "happy ever after" with her Prince and it was not to be, not even in the beginning. Hope her sons have better luck.

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    1. Yes and the dress was very happy ever after too (though sadly the dressmakers went bankrupt later, wonder what happened to them?)

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  15. I awaken recalling it was HER birthday on the 1st!AS we are 21 days apart......I did not remember we are about the same age!For some reason i thought she was younger then me by many years!I too adored HER.How lucky you were to have a sighting of her so close well a few actually!!!I think the magazines forgot as I did not see any headlines about her birthday in my SAFEWAY yesterday!!I think she would be very pleased with how the Boys have turned out and can you see her as a doting GRANDMAMA!!Thanks for the POST I can never tire of her photos!

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    1. I know. I had a dianarama yesterday looking at pics of her

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  16. Honestly- my greatest memory of Princess Diana was the day she died. Don't get me wrong--- I remember other things about her. But the news coverage of her death is still burned into my mind... it is strange how certain things about celebrities (and I include royalty in the category) stick with us and also impact our impressions of them most profoundly....

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    1. Becomes a community thing where everyone gathers

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  17. Great piece. I had this strange attraction to the whirlwind that was Diana. She and I got married the same year, so I was swept up in the "I thee wed" stuff all that year, 1981. In London, I stayed at the Kensington Palace Hotel, not far from the real palace, hoping to see her. Never did. Wouldn't it be weird if I had walked by you and we didn't know it. That's a weird sentence, but you know what I mean. When Diana died I was in Germany and was getting the news from the BBC in a real-time zone way in 1997. I'm not quite two years older than her so she felt like a peer, sort of, you know, without the whole tiara, title, and wealth thingee.

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    1. Hi Burnita,

      Thanks for coming over and commenting!

      We probably did see each other, how funny. Now I'm going to try and dig up those old photos of a pregnant me and Mum looking at all the flowers and reading the inscriptions.

      You'll have to dig up your photos too now!

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  18. Diana was a woman full of contradictions, and royally heartbroken! You've done a wonderful piece about her.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. Hi RB, Happy Canada Day - hope you're having a good one!

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  19. your post makes me nostalgic, everyone knows where they were when they found out that she had died. I saw her around quite a lot, just hanging out with the boys, shopping for frocks, having lunch, she was always smiling and charming. She gave a lot of herself, I am sure she struggled to comprehend the frostiness and formality of life and family at the palace.

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    1. Hi Alexandra, what nice memories, I did always wonder how much she was able to see her boys after they went away to boarding school.

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  20. I love this post, and I think it's amazing that you were able to see her.

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    1. Hi Leigh, hope you're having a great summer

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  21. That brought memories flooding back to me. I never met her but, like you, found her fascinating. I still remember certain outfits she wore to certain events - something that wouldn't normally interest me.
    Thanks for this little homage x

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  22. I was a Diana fan also. She could walk into a room in those outfits and they would seem modern and stylish. She was flawed and vulnerable a and had many faults but I think that's why we liked her even more. I think kate has tried to play it so safe that she is almost boring . She is a young girl plenty of time to wear the boring outfits. But I have to say I think no one wears colour better than the Queen. She is probably a style icon that we don't really notice

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  23. To me she was the only real-life princess in our lifetime. For her to die the way she did still guts me. We were celebrating our first wedding anniversary at a fancy dinner place in San Francisco. People were speaking about it, but my husband wouldn't let me hear. He knew how devastated I would be. I still can't have my wedding anniversary without thinking about it and her.
    She was flawed and human and beautiful. The only consolation is seeing William and Harry and how much they seem to have her quirks and humanness.
    I agree you look so much like her! I had a few suits like that and many ruffled and flowered blouses earlier. Anything to be more like her.
    Always love all your posts. xx

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  24. What an awful week that was when she died... I am not a Royalist... but I did shed a tear.
    I wish Prince Charles hadn't married her - it was such a cruel thing for him to have done, considering that he was in love with another woman when he did.
    Sx

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    1. Agreed... you can see it in the engagement video, he's very detached

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  25. I once - listening to Diana speak on - I think - Australian radio was amazed to hear her use phraseology more common to the staff of a stately home rather than the mistress. Then it all made sense. I imagine her having a fairy lonely childhood and escaping to the kitchen where she would be loved and made much of and - inevitably would use their speech patterns. What do you think?

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    1. Hi Pat, in the middle of replying I was just about to post the link to the Diana interview (Martin Bashir) and just watched the whole thing.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsXOnp6KsRQ

      Mesmerising how articulate she was, also that she resists the temptation to go on and on. She just says her bit and then smiles and looks up. Must practise that.

      In Aussie interview what were words she used? - think you're right, much escaping to the kitchen for her and of course like many all? of us she must have watched a lot of Eastenders

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