As a little girl there was nothing I wanted more than to be a princess like Cinderella. So of course it’s no surprise that I adored the “real life” Princess Diana of Wales. I always thought…what could be more magical, what could be more romantic, and what more exciting and glamorous than to be a real princess? Yesterday I had the privilege to see a glimpse of that real princess I loved growing up.
I approached the exhibit in excitement but also equally in respect. I thought that somehow my attending the celebration of her life was in some way paying my respects to this incredible woman. It wasn’t until I walked into the first dark room and saw her gorgeous glowing tiara glimmering with sparkling diamonds in the center and the life-size photo behind of one of the most remarkable and beautiful women I’ve ever seen that I immediately felt a sense of reverence for her. I couldn’t help but feel sad when I was walking through. I read about her noble family, her childhood, her early romance with Prince Charles and then entered the grand display of her wedding gown. The thoughts of how wonderful it would be to be a princess were clouded by feelings of sorrow. The grand ambiance of all of those photos and gowns, now historical artifacts, didn’t result in a happily ever after for the Princess. How could that be?
I walked into the next room that focused on all of her work. Work that she poured her heart and soul into. I could think of no better way to spend Sanctity of Life Sunday than by being inspired to love the neglected, the forgotten, the unpopular and least of all glamorous as she did. I was so moved by her genuine compassion…and I never met her, I never knew her…but challenged nonetheless.
As I walked into the next room I was surprised because even though I knew what had happened to Diana tears streamed down my face as I watched the video of her funeral and photos of her life. She was a mother and two little boys, Princes or not, lost their mommy. As I read the letter her brother wrote and read at her funeral I was happy when I read the end…he thanked God for His mercy, for taking her in a time of joy in her life and he thanked Him for creating her. I felt exactly the same though I never met her, I never knew her.
The next room was by far my favorite, the “dress room”. Yes, Diana and I shared a passion of fashion. I always admired how wonderful she always looked, the essence of grace and beauty. It’s hard to believe that a woman so gorgeous on the inside and out was filled with insecurities. As I looked at all of the amazing designer gowns with meticulous sparkling hand beading and suits tailored to perfection I was once again overcome with sadness. She won’t be here to see her sons get married, to hold her grandchildren, or to love the way she did so earnestly.
In the last room I was amazed by the number of condolence books, a library filled with hundreds and thousands of letters and cards. I was sixteen years old when the Princess died and I still remember where I was when I heard. I fell in love with my own Prince Charming that summer and despite him not being part of a royal family, to me, he may as well have been. I was living in my own little fairytale and the news stopped me in my tracks. I was heartbroken. How could a woman I never knew, I had never met touch my life so vividly? It almost felt silly to feel grief. I watched her funeral on TV but never felt that I was able to pay my respects. Yesterday in my own way I was able to offer to her my respect and say “thank you” to her as well as “good-bye”. I am not exactly sure what God has in store for me when it comes to loving the forgotten and neglected, unpopular and unglamourous…but I certainly will be listening!