We have celebrities nowadays. We have princesses. But there’s no Princess Diana.
It’s hard to put into words how big she was and what she meant to people.
I remember, as a kid, that first famous photo of her. She had just started going out with Prince Charles, and the press tracked her down at the kindergarten where she was working. The sun was behind her, and the way the photographer got her to stand, her skirt became see-through.
We all felt her embarrassment. I think a lot of people fell in love with her at that point. She was so shy that she barely seemed to be able to look into the camera. Looking back now, it’s no wonder. She was only 19.
Back then, the Royal Family were so stiff and stuffy. Lady Di came along and changed all that. Suddenly, royalty didn’t just mean a gloved hand waving graciously through the window of a Rolls Royce, it meant a real-life ordinary girl marrying a prince. If someone like her could do it, anyone could. (Okay, so she was technically a “lady”, but she felt like one of us.)
She became an obsession. She was on magazine covers. Girls at school tried to flick their hair to look like hers.
Then came the wedding. Yes, there have been royal weddings since, but this was different. Nowadays, there’s so much cynicism. Back then – or so it seemed to me as a kid – there was just excitement. It was a real-life fairytale.