How fast the years gallop, disappearing like rays of the sun in a dark night. A silver crown for the princess.
How many years since that glorious, greatly-anticipated day. When she stood at the altar, radiance streaming from her eyes, bedecked in the loveliest apparel a bride could ever adorn, made up of 10000 pearls, silk taffeta, with ruffled collar, puffed sleeves, a voluminous skirt, and a part of the veil added to her apparel(called a train) remained at the entrance of the church. A tough task for her bridal train to tackle. A 25-foot record breaking train. Not forgetting the fact that the dress cost $9000 in 1981, equivalent to $36.800 in present day currency.
And a warning note, here: My beloved Nigerians, please don’t do any conversions to naira. For health reasons. There shall be no litigation on my article.
The moment in focus here is a historic event that was the favourite of tabloids in the year 1981, when it occurred. News reports were not complete till the upcoming event was mentioned. A book titled The Royal Wedding was actually published, chronicling the events of that spectacular day – 29th July 1981.
The day twenty-year old Lady Diana Spencer became the Princess of Wales, marrying heir apparent, thirty-two-year old Prince Charles in St Paul’s Cathedral, to the viewing pleasure of over 750 million people.
A Royal wedding. A remarkable event that was televised all over the world and remained on the lips of the public, many moments after.
The remarkability of the event did not end on that day. Princess Diana, the star of the show became known as The People’s Princess.
Her humanitarian works made her a favourite of people who sang her praises. The darling of photographers, the most-sought after story line for journalists, Princess Diana was a beloved lady, a sort of role model for ladies of that era.
Her life seemed like a fairy tale. Straight out of the colourful story books of Hans Anderson’s illustrated classics. How much grace, elegance, poise, fame and wealth could one possess? Didn’t she have it all? Questions people who wished they were in her place probably asked.
Yet not quite a life of glory did the princess have.
Sad tales, reminiscent of the tainted narratives of the fairy-tale big bad wolf, invading Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s paradise, slid into the public space. And yes, there was trouble in paradise. Accusations and counter accusations of affairs and not-so-happy marital stories filtered from the royal palace, where the duo of the royal couple made their abode.
Lady Diana sought a different path, possibly one where she had found peace. But she reckoned without the relentless drive of the paparazzi – freelance photographers who pursue celebrities to get photographs of them.
While in Paris, far away from the British influence, the paparazzi crew, went a step too far in their determination to get shots of her and her male companion, Egyptian billionaire, Dodi Fayed.
The outcome was catastrophic.
As someone reported, ‘The most photographed woman in the world dies, while trying to run away from being photographed.’
Lady Diana, on 31st August 1997, exactly 25 years from today, died in a car crash in Paris. The Ford Escort RS Turbo Series that she drove while alive, has been auctioned at $724,500.
Again, I plead with my fellow Nigerians not to do the exchange.
Her demise was the saddest event to befall the royal family. From a royal wedding to a royal burial. The whole of the outside of Kensington Palace was full of flowers, sent by the crushed public who mourned their peerless princess. Her funeral was said to be watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people.
The Flame of Liberty which no longer stands in Paris, was once used as a memorial to her. A permanent memorial, The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain was opened by The Queen, in Hyde Park on 6th July 2004. Followed by a statue in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace, unveiled by her sons, William and Harry, on 1st July 2021.
Princess Diana, the people’s princess, like a meteor, streaked the skies. Nigerians cannot forget her historic visit to the country in the year 1990.
Diana, world-renowned champion of advocacy with a heart for the less privileged, supporting people struggling with AIDS, leprosy, cancer and other illnesses, bowed to eternal silence, too early. But her works still echo. Many books, documentaries, movies have been produced in her honour.
The Investigation Discovery cable TV series has started a documentary titled The Diana Investigations, as a means of reviving the princess, the enigma that decorated Planet Earth and keeping her memory, scented.
Twenty-five years after, Princess Diana wears a silver crown. On the silver jubilee of her passing, the people’s princess still stands tall. The many legacies she left, too numerous to enumerate in one single piece, speak for her. Her image lives on, in her two sons. Her impact remains indelible.
I lend my writing pen and join my voice to sing a silver-coated melody to a regal princess, a damsel bedecked with royalty, yet fitted with humility, not counting the less privileged and those struggling with diseases, too lowly to associate with.
A silver crown adorns the head of Princess Diana, twenty-five years after. An ornament most befitting for an unforgettable princess.
© Ify Omeni – The Tale Weaver