Today marks 10 years ago that Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris with Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul. The past few weeks have seen a flurry of Diana related programs, including the rebroadcast of the Martin Bashir interview (which I had to watch for work), and several Princess Diana movies, incuding one really bad one on Lifetime.
My first ever trip to London was the summer that Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and I have been fascinated with her ever since. She was only 2 1/2 years older than me, and I had a hard time wrapping my mind around someone that young taking on the responsibility of being married and becoming a member of the Royal Family. After all, my most pressing concern that summer at 16 was the crush that I had on one our tour guides, Malcolm (who looked like a Jewish Paul Macartney), listening to Duran Duran, touring England and Scotland, and trying to decide what colleges I wanted to apply too.
I watched the Royal Wedding on the telly at the home of a friend, waving my British flag in solidarity. The next day when we arrived in Edinburgh, stores already had a copy of her wedding dress in the window! I brought piles of books on the Royal Wedding and Charles and Diana.
Three years later, I was doing my semester abroad my junior year of college. No sooner had I arrived in London, then Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry. I skipped class one day to go to the State Opening of Parliament where I managed to get a front row viewing spot to see her arrive in one of the coaches with her hair pinned up with a tiara.
Back in the States, I still kept up with my royal watching. I eagerly bought Andrew Morton's book, although by that time, although I was still a fan, I knew that the truth of their marriage lay somewhere between He Said/She Said. I went round to Christies to see the dresses that she was auctioning off for Charity.
That final summer that she was alive, I was again in London studying acting at the Royal National Theater studio. The tabloids were full of her vacations with Dodi Fayed. I'd already had another royal encounter when Princess Margaret was sitting two rows in front of me at the Royal National, and I'd passed her by on my way out of the theater while she was waiting for her car.
I had the impression that the whole Dodi thing was just a summer fling, something to pass the time while her sons were away with her father. Who hasn't found themselves involved in a relationship they might not ordinarily have considered out of sheer loneliness? I flew back to the States the week before she was killed.
I remember vividly sitting up in bed watching Saturday Night Live with ex-sweetie pie when the news hit, and how annoyed he was with me when I switched over to CNN. It was hard for me to believe that she was dead, and that her death could have been prevented so easily (she wasn't wearing a seat belt, she didn't listen to the security concerns of the Fayed security team, she and Dodi could easily have stayed at the hotel all night).
I watched the funeral at my apartment (it started at 5 a.m. NY time and I knew that ex-sweetie pie was nto going to watch it with me). Looking at the Princes walking behind their mother's coffin, along with Prince Charles and Prince Phillip and Earl Spencer is an image that will always stay with me with.
Her image and her life still continues to fascinate people even now 10 years after her death. Magazines still sell thousands of copies if her picture is on the cover. What is it about her that still fascinates people? I think it's her vulnerability, her very humaness, her kindness and her compassion. Even though she was a princess, she still somehow seemed at once both like us, and unlike us. Not even being a princess can keep you from suffering and being bulimic.
I don't believe that there was a conspiracy to kill her to get her out of the way so that Charles could marry Camilla. There are too many variables that contradict that theory (for one, who knew that Henri Paul would have been so drunk?).
My hope is that she's finally at peace, and that she's proud of the men that her son's have become.
Thanks for reading,