|Photo credit: Mario Testino
It’s 15 years today. Incredible. I can’t believe so much time has passed since her death.
I was lucky enough to actually meet Diana, once. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that was over so fast but to this day, the memory of how I felt feels as vivid as ever. The year was 1983. I had just turned 17 and was in my final year of high school at an all-girls public school. I was a prefect, one of twelve, and all the talk around the traps was the news that Charles, Diana and baby William would visit our little town of Dunedin during their whistlestop tour of New Zealand. This was big. Hardly anyone important came down as far south to visit, so we were pretty excited.
|The Prince & Princess of Wales with son William, 1983
But bigger news was to come. We were left totally gobsmacked a little later by an invitation to attend the opening ceremony of the new wing at our brother high school up the road… with none other than the Prince and Princess of Wales as official guests!! Holy crap! I’m sure you can imagine the level of (noise) excitement that broke out between we teenage girls. In short, we were ECSTATIC.
And so there we were. Standing in the centre of a never-ending sea of male students with a union jack blanket we grabbed from our common room held front and centre. We were giggly. Excited. And desperate for any glimpse of her Royal Highness. Our barely-restrained patience was rewarded as a door opened and out stepped Charles and Diana not more than three metres away! She immediately spied us standing there and much to our absolute delight she exclaimed, “Oh, at last! Some girls!” And walked straight over to meet us. OH MY GOD.
I don’t remember much of what we said. My one clear memory is how utterly flawless her complexion was. She was stunning. With eyes that were the most vivid shade of blue. Photos I’d seen hadn’t done her justice because in person, she was simply breathtaking. Our photo made the paper the next day and added to the glow we were still basking in after meeting Diana. It was pretty cool being us right then.
|One of my favourite shots
Fast forward to August 31st, 1997 and I was at my mother-in-law’s house with my family when we heard the unthinkable. I was stunned. Surely there must be some mistake, I thought. I spent the next few days constantly watching the television, in between bouts of crying. OMG, the crying! I cried a river of tears, a whole swollen, bloated river. I cried for my own personal loss, I cried for the senselessness of it all, but most of all I cried for her two young boys. I don’t think I will ever forget that haunting image of them walking behind her casket at the funeral. So heartbreaking.
|Image – Associated Press
I think she would be very proud of her boys today. What a credit to her (and Charles). They have turned out to be gorgeous, well-adjusted, happy and even, dare I say it, ‘normal’ young men. Even with the odd naked scandal included. (I daresay she would have had some choice words to say about that, but as every mother of blokes well knows, boys will be boys, so I’m sure he would’ve been eventually forgiven!)
Still miss you, Diana x
What are your memories of Diana? Where were you when you heard about her death?