Or rather the most infamous one, the one who subverted history
I am the girl who refused to bow down to conventions
I am the woman who created her own powerful brand of existence
I am the queen of hearts
I am the princess of Wales
That struggle was going to be my middle name should have been evident by the farce, that was my birth. My parents, especially, my father, the viscount, were hoping that after the first three, one of whom was a son, who died, I would be the heir that would take their name forward. Alas! I would but in an inverted, perverted way! Since I was a girl, I was kept nameless for a week. My nickname became ‘Dutch’ since my attitude matched that of a duchess. Foreboding, of some kind, maybe?
And that’s how it all began; the saga of Diana…
Why is a male heir so important, that the wretched family name can only be carried forward by a boy?
This has destroyed so many lives…
My parents divorced because their relationship could never recover from the humiliation my mother had to go through for failing to produce an heir.
They both remarried and I was thrown at the mercy of a stepmother I considered a bully. Young and thoughtless with volatile emotions, I even pushed her down the stairs.
O those days were so fearsome and unhappy. The school was another nightmare. I hated studying but found solace in music and swimming and diving. I was also inclined in serving the needy. I seemed to be the happiest when I was helping others. I dabbled in many more things, except academics which was not meant for me. But, took up some low-paying jobs as well. I know, I was quite something!
And then I turned sixteen and I met him on that fateful day. My brother Charles and I had been watching a Polo match together. That was when I first saw him. And then I met him in the house of a common acquaintance. The circumstances of our first actual meeting had been strange. He had lost his friend; Lord Mountbatten and I had comforted him. He but pounced on me and I thought it was so strange for someone to behave this way. I recollect thinking “What a sad prince!” And yet, my first impression was overridden by feelings of romance and adventure, typical of a silly sixteen-year-old’s virgin heart. I went about swooning and gushing and owning boisterously to my friends that he, Prince Charles, would be the last man on earth who would be allowed to divorce me!
How ironic, isn’t it? I guess I am a lesson in irony…
Prince Charles was twelve years my senior and had been dating my elder sister, Sarah and at the end of their short-lived courtship, she had vehemently declared that no matter if Charles was the footman or the King of England, she would never marry him. Warning bells clanged but I was only glad that the way was clear for me. My happiness knew no bounds when he invited me aboard the Britannia for a sailing date and then to the Balmoral castle that was their Scottish residence. I was to meet his family and I was all nerves and excited. Things were happening at jet speed, exactly the way I hoped they would. My heart fluttered and fear gnawed at me as I thought about rejection. Was I good enough for them? Would Diana be suitable to become the bride of the heir apparent?
I need not have worried. It didn’t exactly matter who the bride was. What mattered was her title and her outer appearance. I had both. I was Lady Diana and our family had always been closely associated with the royal family. The creature who lived beneath of course did not matter….
With the blessings of the Queen, the Queen Mother, and the Duke of Edinburgh, we dated in London. Time flew. Lo! he propped the question just three months into our acquaintance.
I accepted shyly.
We were engaged! But this was top secret for two weeks. I cannot explain the mixed feelings of excitement, apprehension, and utter disbelief at what was happening. Dreams do come true, don’t they?
The D-day arrived!
St Paul’s cathedral became the setting for Cinderella’s wedding to her Prince charming. It was so surreal to be decked in my ivory silk taffeta wedding gown worth £9,000. Seven hundred and fifty million people worldwide were watching our ceremony and 600, 000 spectators thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of us.
I felt regal.
I felt pride. I felt like all the princesses from all the fairy tales in the world, as my twenty-foot train trailed behind me.
O I felt princess!
I felt like a bride, nervous and excited with so many star-studded dreams I was sure would be fulfilled. But somewhere, a thought niggled at me. While we were courting, a reporter asked us a question that irritated me no end, “Are you in love?”
“Of course!”, I quipped.
But Charles’ answer was so strange, “Yes, whatever love is…!”
But I just shook my head, driving the thoughts away. It was just a passing remark, or was it?
I enjoyed every moment that led me to engrave his name in my heart and my life forever. I did create a minor commotion though by reversing his names and refusing to include ‘obeying him’, in my vows, maybe as a prelude to the bigger commotion I was destined to create later!
I finally became the princess of Wales!
I settled in quite nicely, in the royal household, if I may say so, myself. My style caught everyone’s fancy. And I was grateful for Camilla’s presence in my life. She was much older than I was and she offered lots of advice on how to conduct myself. We even attended polo matches together, where Charles played. Life is so beautiful when you have the right life partner….
Irony, irony; didn’t I tell you earlier that irony is my life
I had an accident. I fell down the stairs. This worried everyone because my womb carried the heir apparent, the next in line. Much to my relief, my baby was unharmed. I heaved a sigh of relief and felt guilty, for, it had not been an accident. I had deliberately thrown myself down the stairs for it felt like the only way out. The only way to relieve myself from this strange feeling of inadequacy I had started feeling. Maybe, it was pregnancy hormones. Maybe it was Charles…
Williams was followed by Harry.
Charles and I found ourselves much closer than before, when we were expecting Harry. I hoped this time around, I wouldn’t be visited by postpartum depression and would be able to enjoy my baby. As I held both my sons, I decided I would be just a mother. The crown would not dictate what experiences I would give them. I took them everywhere. I made sure they were not cloistered within the gilded claustrophobic walls of the Palace and they learned to live and appreciate. I even visited the school and took part in a mother toddler race, ignoring the stiff upper lips and disapproving tilted brows. My sons would learn to live and enjoy life as themselves first and never get bogged down by the weight of their titles.
A wife’s instincts are sharper than that of a woman’s.
Now that I had fulfilled my function of providing my husband with his heirs, I could feel being pushed to the corner of the palace as a piece of prized furniture, dutifully preserved with expensive dust covers. I could also not ignore how in his presence, I was constantly made to feel so inadequate, so lesser than what I was. It did not take long for me to find out that our marriage had three members; Charles, me, and…CAMILLA!
It was at a party that I walked up to her and in full public glare told her I knew what Charles and she were up to. She didn’t seem surprised!
And thus began the next act in the saga of Diana!
What started out as a cornucopia of rainbow dreams had now turned into an ugly nightmare with horns. The details are too painful. But I decided not to let it go so easily. I had my share of affairs. Our divorce was a public spat.
At last free, I immersed myself in charity, which never failed to provide me solace. The only place I felt adequate.
I created history when I shook hands with a HIV-positive patient, setting a precedent in spreading the message of inclusivity and love. My personal sense of style coupled with my charitable work drove everyone, especially the paparazzi crazy.
The world could only see my affairs. They couldn’t feel the bleeding heart that only wanted love.
I refused to bow down to the dictates of the male chauvinistic royal rules.
I made many feel uncomfortable. I hope my life story will inspire the wives of my sons to never settle for anything less than love from their husbands
Maybe for that, I had to pay with my life.
But I live on as the queen of hearts!
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