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Lady Diana Spencer reads a romance novel by her favourite author, Barbara Cartland. Diana is probably 16. Photo ca. 1977

Lady Diana Spencer reads a romance novel by her favorite author, Barbara Cartland. Diana is probably 16 years old. Photo ca. 1977

Princess Diana (1961-1977) loved to read romantic fiction. She devoured novels by British author Barbara Cartland, of which there was an endless and steady supply. In her lifetime, Cartland (1901-2000) is credited with having written 723 books. In 1983 alone, she wrote 23 of them. She holds The Guinness Book of World Records for writing the most books in a single year.

Reclining on a chaise lounge at her home, Cartland dictated her hundreds of stories to her secretary. They both wore pink. Pink was Cartland’s signature color.

British romance novelist Barbara Cartland dictates stories to her secretary while relaxing with one of her Pekinese pets.

British romance novelist Barbara Cartland dictates stories to her secretary Jean Smith while relaxing at home in Camfield Place in Essendon, U.K.

Barbara Cartland

Barbara Cartland

Cartland, self-styled as the “Queen of Romance,” was a celebrity favorite with journalists as she was always holding forth on topics of the day, and sometimes saying outrageous and unprintable things such as speculating on the private parts of the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

She was well-known for her flamboyant appearance, resembling a fairy queen with cotton candy hair. Her dresses were ultra-girly, adorned with feathers, frills, flounces, fluff, and froth. She was heavily perfumed and glittered with jewels. Her thick make-up was more suited to the stage, and the end result was often clown-like. To achieve a more youthful look, she pulled back her cheeks with the application of sticking plaster (which, sadly, often showed). Her “forests of false eyelashes” were legendary, jet black, and preposterous. Her secret? In 1959, she wrote to a fan that, instead of mascara:

I use Meltonian black shoe cream for my eyelashes.” (1)

Barbara Cartland up close and personal

Barbara Cartland up close

In her writing as well as her appearance, Cartland was an accomplished illusionist. Her books were fairy tales of the most fantastic nature. In them, the young virgin heroine – usually with an exotic name like Vada, Lalitha, Syringa, Fenella, Kamala, or Anthea - always marries Prince Charming. They live happily ever after. They never quarrel, they don’t have affairs, and they certainly don’t divorce.

More than one of Diana's Spencer's acquaintances remarked on her dreamy nature. Photo ca. 1977

More than one of Diana’s Spencer’s acquaintances remarked on her dreamy nature. Photo ca. 1977

Not so in the Spencer household. From her earliest years, Princess Diana’s parents had had a troubled marriage, and her home was a scene of violent quarrels. Diana’s mother, Frances, felt as if her husband Johnnie Spencer, Viscount Spencer, treated her like a brood mare, sending her to fertility experts to explain why she had given birth to three girls in a row. He wanted a male heir to carry on the royal family line. Diana listened behind the door when her parents had a shouting match and her sister turned up the record player volume.

Frances did give birth to a boy, Charles, but the breach in the marriage had become, by then, an unbridgeable chasm.

When Diana was six, her mother left her four children and husband to pursue an affair in London with Peter Shand Kydd, also married. In 1968, she divorced Diana’s father, Johnnie Spencer, who, surprisingly for the times, was granted custody of the children. It is not surprising once you know that a surprise witness at the divorce hearing provided the damning testimony that decided in his favor. Testifying to Johnnie’s superior parenting skills was Frances’s own mother, Lady Fermoy, testifying against her daughter.

Three months after the divorce, Frances married Kydd and they moved to Scotland. With her two older sisters away at boarding school, only Diana and her younger brother Charles remained behind at Park House on the Queen’s royal Sandringham estate. Her father holed up, silently, in his study, abandoned.

The spirit of gaiety was gone from Park House along with Frances’s furniture.” (2)

A Hazard of Hearts (1948) by Barbara Cartland

A Hazard of Hearts (1948) by Barbara Cartland

Cartland’s novels provided young Diana Spencer with an escape into a fantasy dream world. Diana came to believe in the magical rescue power of princes, waiting for her prince to ride up and take her away to her own happy ending. Her life view was shaped by this unreality and it would pitch her into a cold marriage to a man whose heart already belonged to another.

No fairy tale is complete without a wicked stepmother, and, in July, 1976, Diana got one. Her name was Raine, Countess Dartmouth. By this time, the Spencers had moved into the family’s stately home of Althorp, as Diana’s grandfather had died, passing the earldom on to Johnnie. He became the 8th Earl Spencer and Diana became Lady Diana. Raine began an extensive remodeling of Althorp, proving unpopular with Diana and her siblings, who hated their new (wicked) stepmother, calling her “Acid Raine.” Johnnie, however, became very happy after his marriage to Raine.

Princess Diana, at right, stands with stepmother, Raine, Countess Spencer, middle, and a friend. Undated photo, ca. 1977

Princess Diana, at right, stands with stepmother, Raine, Countess Spencer, middle, and a friend. Undated photo, ca. 1977

Now that you have seen this photo of Raine (above), you will not find it hard to believe that her mother was Barbara Cartland, Diana’s favorite novelist! That made Cartland Diana’s stepgrandmother. She learned of Diana’s love for her books and sent them to Diana by the cartload.

In 1977, Diana moved into Coleherne Court in South Kensington, London. Her roommates remember that she always got up before the meal was finished to clear the table. She hated dirty dishes. Diana loved to do the washing and ironing of shirts for friends. Her big sister Sarah paid her to clean her apartment. Diana was Cinderella, sweeping the hearth free of ashes.

Diana first revealed her crush on Prince Charles when on a ski holiday with friends in Val Claret in the French Alps. She surprised her friends one evening, saying that she was going to marry Charles AKA Prince Charming. According to those who knew her well, Diana kept herself chaste for her husband on their wedding night. (3)

Oxford student Adam Russell sits with Lady Diana Spencer. They are vacationing with a group in the French Alps. Russell is said to have had a ‘galumphing’ crush on Diana. Nothing, however, happened between them. According to royal author Andrew Morton, Mr Russell went travelling for a year, and when he returned to the UK in 1980 and told a friend that he liked Diana, he was told: ‘You’ve only got one rival, the Prince of Wales’.  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257321/Revealed-Mystery-rival-Prince-Charles-pictured-relaxing-Lady-Diana-1979-Old-Etonian-aristocrat-Adam-

Oxford student Adam Russell sits with Lady Diana Spencer. They are vacationing with a group in the French Alps. Russell is said to have had a ‘galumphing’ crush on Diana. Nothing, however, happened between them. According to royal author Andrew Morton, Mr Russell went travelling for a year, and when he returned to the UK in 1980 and told a friend that he liked Diana, he was told: ‘You’ve only got one rival, the Prince of Wales’. Source: The Daily Mail

And Lady Diana did indeed marry Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. Her fairy tale unfolded as she had imagined. Her father gave her away. She wore a confection of a dress with a 25 foot-long train. She rode to St. Paul’s Cathedral in a carriage. She became Her Royal Highness, Diana, Princess of Wales. When Charles became King one day, she would become his queen, and their son, a king, too.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana smile for their wedding photo. July 1981

Prince Charles and Princess Diana smile for their wedding photo. July 1981

As we all know, Diana’s life with Charles did not have a happy ending. Her marriage was miserable, ending in a nasty divorce (1996) which led to her disastrous loneliness and tragic death (1997). Diana’s story was a fractured fairy tale of the worst imaginable kind.

By the way, stepmother Raine attended the royal wedding. However, stepgrandmother Barbara Cartland – the fairy queen who nurtured this fairy tale of Diana’s – did not attend.  Someone – maybe the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret – considered her an embarrassment and did not want her there. We don’t know if she wasn’t invited OR was offered an invitation but declined because her seat was behind a column! Anyway, not being present at Diana’s wedding proved to be the biggest humiliation of Barbara Cartland’s life.

In 1993, Barbara Cartland remarked:

The only books Diana ever read were mine, and they weren’t terribly good for her.” (2)

In 1996, Cartland had figured out why the marriage had failed:

Of course, you know where it all went wrong. She wouldn’t do oral sex.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned….

For more about Princess Diana, click here.

(1)

(2) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(3)

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This week's current Newsweek cover featuring a fantasy image of what Princess Diana, had she lived, might have looked like at age 50. The image has sparked tremendous backlash.

The Daily Beast has provided a photo gallery of Princess Diana over the years. Had she lived, she would have turned 50 today, July 1, 2011: “Princess Diana’s 50th Birthday.”

Newsweek’s Tina Brown has written a really strange futuristic look at what Diana might have been like at 50: “Diana at 50.”

For other posts on Diana on this blog, Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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Dodi Al Fayed looks over Princess Diana’s shoulder just minutes before the two of them will die in a Paris tunnel.

Keith Allen, the director of the controversial film, “Unlawful Killing,” is interviewed today by the UK Daily Mail regarding his decision to include in the “documentary” a previously unseen and graphic black and white photo of Princess Diana as she lay dying August 31, 1997.  The photo was probably sold by one of the paparazzi in the Paris tunnel with her at the time of her fatal car crash. (1)

“Unlawful Killing” debuts tomorrow at the Cannes Film Festival. Allen defends his tasteless use of the disturbing photo of the much beloved princess on the heels of the Royal Wedding:

The photo is not used in the film for the purpose of shock. It is included as evidence, because it shows clearly that, although Diana had been injured in the crash, she was alert and very much alive. I repeat: it is not a picture of a dying woman.

As medical evidence presented at the inquest confirmed, if Diana had been taken promptly to hospital by Dr Jean-Marc Martino, she could well have survived.

Instead, due to a series of delays that have never been properly explained, it took one hour and 43 minutes to get her to a hospital just a couple of miles away, by which time her life was ebbing away.

We briefly use one photograph as part of a sequence which asks: why was she not taken to hospital more quickly? What took place within Dr Martino’s ambulance (inside which she remained for well over an hour)? Why is Dr Martino’s evidence greatly at variance with the known facts? And why did no official inquiry ever interview (or even name) most of other people in the ambulance?

Surely, if the inquest and police enquiries were as ‘thorough’ and ‘open’ as the voices of authority insist, that is the very least they would have done?

My film is not about a conspiracy before the crash, but about a conspiracy after the crash, culminating in a six-month inquest which (it is my contention) sought to bury the truth, rather than reveal it. I don’t know whether I’ll convince you or not, but I hope you’ll reserve judgement until you have seen it for yourselves.

Admittedly, that’s difficult at the moment, because the film cannot be shown in the UK (mainly because the questions it asks about the conduct of the coroner and police chiefs could lead to us all being imprisoned under contempt of court laws). But it will soon be showing widely throughout the world, so many of you will be able to see it elsewhere.” (2)

Allen admits that “Unlawful Killing” is backed by Mohamed Al Fayed, the former owner of Harrods Department Store in London.  Al Fayed is the  father of  Dodi Fayed, Diana’s lover, who also died in the Paris crash.

Summer 1997: Dodi Al Fayed and Princess Diana

Mohamed Al Fayed is convinced that Dodi and Diana were murdered by a collaboration between the British spy agency M16 and Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.

Mohamed Al Fayed has pursued his elaborate conspiracy theory for over a decade, memorably presenting it at an official British inquest into the deaths of Dodi and Diana. (3) However, on April 7, 2008, the jury released an official statement that sharply dismissed Al Fayed’s claim:

Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed by the grossly negligent driving of chauffeur Henri Paul and the paparazzi. Though the official verdict implicated the pursuing vehicles, the jury also named the intoxication of the driver and the victims’ decisions to not wear seat-belts as contributing factors to their deaths. Additionally, the Mercedes had been travelling at over twice the legal speed limit of that particular section of road and had long since left the paparazzi vehicles far behind by the time the accident occurred.” (4)

Princess Diana (1961-1997). Mohamed Al Fayed created many myths about his son Dodi and Princess Diana’s romance, particularly that they were getting ready to announce their wedding plans. He even went so far as to claim that Diana was pregnant at the time of her death. The British inquest into Diana’s death concluded that she was not pregnant at the end.

(1) The Daily Mail

(2) The Daily Mail

(3)The New York Times

(4) Wiki

Readers: Check out “Diana’s Death Photos Leaked, Part 1 “The Shrine at Harrods,” and other posts on the British Royal Family on this blog.

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Newspapers chronicle the August 31, 1997 Paris car crash that killed Princess Diana.

“A shocking paparazzi photo of a dying Princess Diana could be shown for the first time on Friday in a documentary at the Cannes Film Festival.

The 90-minute documentary about her fatal car accident, called “Unlawful Killing,” includes a graphic, black-and-white close-up of the princess taken moments after the Mercedes she was riding in crashed in a Paris underpass.

One of the movie’s financial backers is former Harrods department store owner Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the car with Diana.

British media report that he didn’t know the image of Diana’s face would be included in the movie and plans to stop it from being shown.”

This photo released in 2008 shows Princess Diana in the backseat of the Mercedes roaring away from the Paris Ritz before the fatal accident. Diana glances back at the pursuing paparrazzi. Dodi Al Fayed sits next to her. In front of Al Fayed is the driver, Henri Paul. Seated also upfront is Al Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones (The Daily Mail)

For details and photos of the 1997 crash, click here.

Now Read: Princess Diana: Death Photo Leaked, Part  2

Readers: I have written many posts on Princess Diana and the British Royal Family. For more background on Diana’s death, please read, “The Shrine at  Harrod’s.” For other posts on the British Royal Family, click here.

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William and Kate drive Prince Charles' Aston Martin through the streets of London on their wedding day, thrilling the crowds.

Following a post-nuptials luncheon buffet for 650 guests given by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, Prince William took his new bride Kate out for a spin in his father’s vintage Aston Martin. The crowd in the street was taken by surprise to see the royal couple, the newly-christened Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, appear on the streets so spontaneously, and sent up mighty cheers, applause, and laughter as the 41-year-old blue sportscar rolled by. William and Kate waved and smiled as they passed the wildly exuberant crowds lining the curbs, waving British flags.

On the front of the car was a large red letter “L”  which stands for “learners permit” bordered by 4 red hearts. Red, white, and blue ribbons and bows decorated the front bonnet. White bows and colored party balloons -two bearing the initials C and W and others shaped like hearts and stars - fluttered gaily from the rear bumper. The novelty license plate proclaimed JU5T WED.

Prince William is distracted from his driving as an RAF helicopter salutes him overhead. Note the special license plate for his wedding day.

The royal car is said to have been specially decorated by that fun-loving prankster Prince Harry.

Best man Prince Harry waves to the crowd as he makes the journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following the Royal Wedding of his brother, Prince William, to the lovely Miss Catherine Middleton.

A Range Rover followed close behind the snazzy convertible. Overhead a yellow Sea King Search and Rescue helicopter with the B Flight 22 Squadron did a flyby to honor the Prince on his wedding day. Prince William is an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter pilot with the same squadron based in Anglesey, Wales.  

RAF colleagues of Prince William did a flyby over Buckingham Palace on his wedding day.

The couple, who had just that morning exchanged televised wedding vows at Westminster Abbey before a worldwide audience of millions, were on their way up the Mall, 500 yards away, to Clarence House, where they would change their clothes for the night’s festivities.

William had already changed clothes once. He had worn a red Irish Guards tunic as he tied the knot but, for the drive down the Mall, had swapped the tunic for an Irish Guards frock coat. In the open auto, Kate still wore the Alexander McQueen wedding dress 

Prince William and the former Miss Kate Middleton, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pose joyously for their official wedding pictures in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace. April 29, 2011

“a glorious sweep of ivory and white silk gazar with hand-embroidered English and French Chantilly lace and 58 organza-covered buttons snaking up the back. It had a discreet v-neck, long lace sleeves and a train that measured nearly nine feet long. Middleton’s slender waistline was emphasized by the gown’s narrow bodice and slight padding at the hips—a nod to Victorian style.”

As for that spiffy sportscar….

Queen Elizabeth had given the Seychelles blue Aston Martin Volante DB6 MKII to her son Prince Charles in 1969 as a 21st birthday gift. The Prince of Wales -who is environmentally sensitive – converted it to run on sustainable fuel in 2008. It now uses E85 bioethanol, made from English wine wastage. The car is said to be roughly valued at £350,000.

Below is an old photo of Prince Charles taking his wife at the time, Princess Diana, William’s late mother, for a spin in the same Aston Martin convertible.

In this undated photo, Prince Charles and Princess Diana are seen driving away in the Prince's blue Aston Martin.

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family and the Royal Wedding, click here.

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Newlyweds William and Kate pose in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace with his family on our left, her family, the Middletons on our right, and members of the wedding party. On Kate's right include at far right, Kate's sister Philippa, brother James, mother Carole, and father Michael. To the far left of the picture is William's stepmother, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, father, Charles, Prince of Wales, brother Prince Harry, and grandparents, seated, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II.

On April 29, 2011 at 8 a.m., the day Prince William of Wales married Kate Middleton, officials at Buckingham Palace announced that, in accordance with royal tradition and on recognition of the day by Queen Elizabeth, William was created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. The Queen gave Kate a new princess title: Her Royal Highness Princess William Arthur Philip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus. 

Even though Kate now has an official princess title, she will not and cannot be called Princess Catherine. Why not?  Unlike the majority of royal brides, and in contrast to most previous consorts-in-waiting for over 350 years, Catherine does not come from a royal or aristocratic background and therefore has no title of her own. Some of the royals — Princess Margaret, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, for example — can use the designation because they were born into blue blood clan. 

 

May 6, 1985: Princess Diana holds baby Prince Harry, Prince Charles holds toddler Prince William.

Princess Diana was a blue blood when she married William’s father, Prince Charles. She was never officially declared “Princess Diana.” She styled herself in this fashion, much as the Queen’s mother became “Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother” when he daughter assumed the throne. 

None of this is set in stone, however, as the Queen could make Kate a “Princess of the United Kingdom,” which would then entitle her to be called Princess Catherine. 

Could we then call her Princess Kate? 

Readers, for more on the British royal wedding and family, click here.

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May 6 1985: Princess Diana, Prince Charles and their sons Harry and William on board royal yacht Britannia in Venice.

It’s 1985. Prince Charles and Princess Diana have been married close to five years. He’s 37; she’s 24. They have two young and healthy sons. Charles and Di have everything. They are rich and famous and, by all rights, should be happy. They seem happy in most photos. But they are not. Their marriage is in trouble but it will be another 11 years before it crashes for good.

Princess Diana arrives at the Royal Opera House, London. Dec. 1985

It’s December – Christmastime – and the two of them are out on the town together in London. It’s a special night. They are seated at the Royal Box at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. It’s a VIP evening for “Friends of Covent Garden,” composed of skits and entertainment for special patrons. Silly things happen at this event - dancers sing, singers dance, and, occasionally, a celebrity might turn up on stage unexpectedly and wow the audience. Just the previous year, matter of fact, Charles and Di had done that very thing. They had performed a skit together – as Romeo and Juliet -  and the Prince had sung an ad jingle, “Just One Cornetto.”

Back to December 1985. The show is drawing to a close. Imagine Charles’s surprise when, just two numbers before the end of the show, Diana slips from the Royal Box and, minutes later, emerges on stage. She is going to perform! She wears a slinky white dress and begins dancing seductively to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” 

Princess Diana and Wayne Sleep dance to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" at Covent Garden, December 1985.

Uptown Girl

She’s been living in her uptown world

I bet she’s never had a backstreet guy

I bet her mama never told her why

Diana – at 5’10″ – towers over her dance partner, Wayne Sleep. At 5’2″, Sleep is the shortest dancer ever admitted into the Royal Ballet School. He recalled his pas de deux with the princess that night

The Prince nearly fell out of his chair, especially when [Diana] did the kicks over my head….I was worried she’d fall apart under the spotlight, but she totally carried it off. Not many people could handle being under such scrutiny in front of an insiderly audience on that huge Covent Garden stage. She showed natural star quality.” (1)

Everyone – except Charles - is thrilled by Diana’s performance. She receives a standing ovation and eight curtain calls. At a reception afterwards, Sleep recalled that Charles was aloof, making it embarrassingly clear that he disapproved of Diana’s performance (or was he just plain jealous because he wasn’t asked to participate?). Diana had rehearsed for weeks in secret and was performing just to please Charles. Again, her efforts fall short. Of course, we know now why she couldn’t please him. He didn’t need her. He had Camilla.

Where did Diana get the personal courage to perform a seductive dance in front of 2,600 people?  Well, thank Nancy Reagan for giving Di the opportunity to shine at something she was good at. Just a month before, Diana had danced with John Travolta (at Nancy’s request) at a gala White House dinner given by the Reagans, dazzling Washington and the world with her youthful beauty, dancing grace, and sex appeal.

John Travolta and Princess Diana dance in the East Room of the White House, November 1986. Standing up to welcome Prince Charles and Princess Diana, President Reagan, in after-dinner remarks, flubbed the princess's name. Standing up in welcome, the president offered a toast to Prince Charles and "his lovely lady, Princess David."

By the time she returned to London, everyone was abuzz with Diana’s splashy American visit:

The Princess of Wales had become a walking monument – British opinion polls said she was the country’s greatest tourist attraction….One national survey calculated that from 1983-1985, she had generated $66.6 million in revenue from magazines, books, and tourists.” (2)

“Shy Di looking up through the eyelashes” had gone off to America but Confident Di had returned in her place. She made Buckingham Palace nervous – and with good reason. It could no longer control her.

(1) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(2) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997.

Readers: For more on Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, click here.

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Next month, Kate Middleton makes the cover of the UK magazine “Tatler. ” This February 2011 issue  is a royal special, commemorating the engagement of Ms. Middleton to Prince William.

The cover montage of four brilliantly-colored photos of Ms. Middleton are reminiscent of American pop artist Andy Warhol‘s 1962 silkscreen prints of  movie star Marilyn Monroe.

 Warhol began experimenting with making mass-produced images of famous people in August 1962 when Marilyn Monroe committed suicide. This method became Warhol’s signature style and made him very rich and famous.

This publicity shot of Marilyn Monroe by Gene Korman for the film “Niagara,” made in 1953 was used by Pop Artist Andy Warhol to create his famous 1962 silkscreen prints of the actress, following her suicide by overdose.

This 1962 silkscreen print by Andy Warhol shows the repetitive image of Marilyn Monroe in bright shades of canary yellow, aqua blue, and shocking pink. These tiny prints are still worth millions of dollars.

Princess Diana (1961-1997) was often featured on the cover of "Tatler." This is from 1990.

Readers: For more on Kate Middleton and Princess Diana on this blog, click here.

Readers: For more on Marilyn Monroe on this blog, click here.

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What’s Prince Philip’s favorite drink? Check out our quiz to see how much you know about the Royal Family:

1. In which battle did George VI fight?
A. The First Battle of Ypres
B. The Battle of Loos
C. The Battle of Jutland
D. The Battle of Tumbledown

Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis.

2. What was the name of the first royal corgi, which was given to the Queen on her 18th birthday in 1944?

A. Sinbad
B. Susan
C. Senator
D. Sonata 

 
 

Queen Victoria celebrates her fiftieth year on the throne in 1887 at her Golden Jubilee. Queen Victoria lived from 1819-1901.

3. Who succeeded Queen Victoria?
A. Prince Albert
B. Edward VII
C. George V
D. Edward VIII

4. Of how many countries is the Queen head of state?
A. Four
B. Eight
C. 16
D. 21

5. What title did the British monarch also have until 1947?
A. King of India
B. Imperial Sovereign
C. Monarch of Asia
D. Emperor of India

6. In which naval engagement during World War II was Prince Philip mentioned in despatches?
A. Battle of Cape Matapan
B. Battle of Cape Potsandpans
C. Battle of Cape Cod
D. Battle of Barents Sea

The Duchess and Duke of Windsor in exile in France, years after the Duke AKA King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936.

 7. What was Edward VIII’s relationship to his successor, George VI?
A. First cousin
B. Father
C. Elder brother
D. Younger brother

8. What was the Queen Mother’s maiden name?
A. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
B. Lady Elizabeth Glamis
C. Lady Elizabeth Bows
D. The Countess of Strathmore

9. Which king reigned throughout World War I?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. George VII

 
 
 

King George VI sits with Prince Charles of Wales. Charles was just 3 when the King died of lung cancer on Feb. 6, 1952.

10. What relation is Prince Charles to George VI?
A. Maternal grandson
B. Paternal grandson
C. Maternal nephew
D. Paternal great-grandson

11. How old was the Queen when she came to the throne?
A. 55
B. 45
C. 35
D. 25

12. Who did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meet at Berchtesgaden in 1937?
A. Adolf Hitler
B. Charlie Chaplin
C. Tsar of Russia
D. Winston Churchill

13. In which war did Prince Andrew fight as a helicopter pilot?
A. Gulf War
B. Iraq War
C. Falklands War
D. Korean War

14. What was the name of the royal yacht decommissioned in 1997?
A. Britannia
B. Queen Elizabeth
C. Elizabeth and Philip
D. Queen Mary

15. What is Prince Philip’s favorite drink?
A. Bass
B. Brandy (Greek, of course)
C. Boddingtons
D. Bacardi

16. In which war did the Royal Family change their dynastic title from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor?
A. Boer War
B. World War I
C. World War II
D. Cold War

 
 
 

Princess Diana, spring 1997, photographed by Mario Testino

17. What was the maiden name of Diana, Princess of Wales?
A. Lady Diana Spencer
B. Diana, Lady Spencer
C. The Lady Diana
D. The Lady Spencer

18. Why is Prince Michael of Kent not in the line of succession to the throne?
A. He converted to Islam
B. He married a Roman Catholic
C. He became a Zoroastrian
D. He married without the Queen’s permission

19. What was the name of the most famous of Edward VII’s mistresses when he was Prince of Wales?
A. Lily Crabtree
B. Nell Gwynn
C. Mary Robinson
D. Lillie Langtry

20. Which monarch of the House of Windsor has reigned the longest?
A. Edward VII
B. George V
C. George VI
D. Elizabeth II

 
 
 

Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as portrayed on a commemorative stamp

21. How old was the Queen Mother when she died in 2002?
A. 90
B. 95
C. 75
D. 101

22. Where was the then Princess Elizabeth staying when she heard of the death of her father George VI in 1952?
A. Treetops Game Reserve in Kenya
B. Stardust Casino in Las Vegas
C. Government House in Auckland, New Zealand
D. Ice Station Zebra in Antarctica

23. What post does the monarch hold in the Church of England?
A. Supreme Pontiff
B. Senior Governor
C. Supreme Ruler
D. Supreme Governor 

Queen Elizabeth's little sister, Princess Margaret, enjoying her bath.

24. Who did the Queen’s sister marry?

A. Antony Armstrong-Andrews, Lord Snowdon
B. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Mountbatten
C. Andrew Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon
D. Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon 

25. What was Prince Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick, later Edward VIII, called by his family?
A. Edward
B. Bertie
C. Albert
D. David

26. Who was prime minister at the time of the Abdication Crisis?
A Stanley Baldwin
B Neville Chamberlain
C Winston Churchill
D Ramsay Macdonald

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Winston and Clementine Churchill as she arrives for a dinner given at 10 Downing Street on April 4, 1955. In leading his guests in the loyal toast to Her Majesty, Churchill noted that as a young cavalry officer he had proposed similar toasts during the reign of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria. He resigned as Prime Minister on the following day.

27. How many prime ministers have served under the Queen?
A. 13
B. 10
C. 14
D. 12

28. Who is The Keeper of the Royal Conscience?
A. The Archbishop of Canterbury
B. Prince Philip
C. The Prince of Wales
D. Ken Clarke

ANSWERS: 1 C. 2 B. 3 B. 4 C. 5 D. 6 A. 7 C. 8 A. 9 B. 10 A. 11 D. 12 A. 13 C. 14 A. 15 C. 16 B. 17 A. 18 B. 19 D. 20 D. 21 D. 22 A. 23 D. 24 D. 25 D. 26 A. 27 A. 28 D (as Lord Chancellor).

Source: The Daily Mail, Jan. 11, 2011

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.
11th January 2011

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Kate Middleton (born Jan. 9, 1982) and Prince William of Great Britain announce their plans to marry (November 16, 2010). Kate's sapphire and diamond engagement ring belonged to the Prince's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Since the November 16, 2010, announcement of her engagement to Prince William, all eyes have been on the lovely Kate Middleton, Britain’s princess-in-waiting (maybe to be titled “Her Royal Highness Princess Catherine of Wales”) and future queen. Everything from her plans to marry at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, to her fashion picks is hot, hot news.

At the press conference, Kate looked so smashing in her sapphire blue, gathered-front engagement dress that the outfit became an instant fashion “must have.” It caused a shopping frenzy with women eager to copy Kate’s classic, ladylike, but sexy look. Only two days after she was seen wearing the silk jersey Issa London frock, the dress was sold out in London. It then became available online at Net-a-Porter.com for $535 but quickly sold out.

Within days, Tesco launched a replica version of the dress that was 20 times cheaper than the Issa, selling at £16 ($15.50). The Tesco version – in cotton - featured the same Issa length and waist-flattering, self-tie wrap style but with short sleeves. Within one hour of its availability, the Tesco knockoff design - dubbed “the Kate Middleton dress” – was sold out.

This cotton dress by the Florence + Fred line at Tesco.com emulates the blue Issa London design which Kate Middleton wore to face the press in November 2010 to announce her engagement to Prince William. This knockoff sold out online in one hour, a testimony to the power of Miss Middleton's influential fashion sense.

Peacocks, another British “high street” budget chain retailer, was not about to outdone by the competition.  They released an even cheaper version than Tesco’s – in polyester with three-quarter-length sleeves – that also sold out within hours of hitting the market. Peacocks anticipated the instant sell-out, setting up the ‘Waity Katie’ waiting list dedicated to the dress in order for customers to avoid disappointment. Kate Middleton received the  nickname ‘Waity Katie’  because she knew her fiance nine years before he proposed marriage.

Peacocks' polyester version of the Kate Middleton Issa dress, costing just £14.

It wasn’t just Kate’s dress that caused a fashion sensation. Jewelers around the world have been inundated with requests for replicas of her sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring. It is the same ring that Prince William’s father Prince Charles gave William’s mother, Lady Diana, in 1981, when they became engaged. After Diana’s death, the ring was passed down to Prince Harry, Diana’s second son and William’s younger brother. Harry decided to give William their mother’s ring to give to Kate as her engagement ring.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring

Jewelers were caught off guard by the sheer volume of customer requests for replicas of the engagement ring:

‘Our website crashed, phones are ringing like crazy,’ said Michael Arnstein, CEO of the Natural Sapphire Co. ‘We just hope we can handle the demand.’”

 

Princess Diana's engagement ring, now being worn by Kate Middleton. Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana without a ring. After accepting Charles's proposal, Diana chose her own ring from a selection at Garrard Jewelers. Set on a gold band, this 18 carat oval cluster ring features a sapphire surrounded by 16 small diamonds.

Stores and websites are flooded with fake sapphire rings for sale. Below is a photo of one store’s offering:

 

Readers, for more of my posts on Kate Middleton and the British Royal family, click here.

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Prince William of Great Britain and Catherine Middleton announce their engagement on November 16, 2010, in a side room at Clarence House, London.

This is the site of Prince William's October 20 proposal to Kate Middleton: at one of Kenya's stark Rutundu Log Cabins near Lake Rutundu on Africa's second highest peak. With no electricity, the couple, both 28, celebrated their engagement by a roaring fire and a bottle of bubbly. In an interview, the prince revealed that he had been carrying around the heirloom engagement ring in his knapsack for three weeks, all the time worried he might lose the irreplaceable relic that belonged to his late mother, Princess Diana.

The interior of the rustic Kenyan cabin where William proposed to Kate on Oct. 20, 2010.

Kate Middleton attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she received an Art History Degree and met her future husband, Prince William, heir to the British throne. The university claims to be "Britain's top match-making university," asserting that 10 percent of its students met the person with whom they would eventually settle down.

“Kate’s Obstacle Course” by Tina Brown:

“The future princess not only fulfilled Prince William’s requirements, she persuaded the Queen her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing like Diana. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty.

“No one has put in harder training to become a royal bride than the glossy-haired Kate Middleton. The eight-year wait has been fraught with tests she had to pass.

“First, discretion. Prince William’s smiling hostility toward the press is his non-negotiable core value. I am told he is so protective of his privacy he has been known to plant false tips with friends he distrusts and watch the media to see if they play out. William went ballistic at Christmas last year, when he suspected Kate might have been aware the tabloid snapper Niraj Tanna was lurking near a tennis court where she was playing on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, and that she graced the interloper with a camera-ready smile. Even her family has kept mum with no unruly relatives going rogue. The only telltale sign of possible impending nuptials has been Carole Middleton’s sudden suspicious determination to shed poundage on a prawn and cottage cheese diet.

“Second, virtue. The delicate issue of premarital experience has been managed by Kate with quiet dexterity. Her one known boyfriend before William at university, 22-year-old gifted cricketer Rupert Finch, never talked. Thirty years ago, Prince Charles had to go as young as 19 to find, in Lady Diana Spencer, something almost extinct in post-feminist times, a girl with a history and no past. But Diana’s shy virginity concealed a time bomb: her wounded, insatiable need for love.

A month after announcing their engagment, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles attend a 1981 dinner at Goldsmith Hall. Diana was 19.

“There is nothing wounded about Kate. She’s from wholesome middle-class stock. She’s great ballast for William who, beneath his royal aplomb, is wounded too. She’s mastered the art of being what seems a contradiction in terms—appropriately edgy; the odd flash of midriff or nocturnal thigh in a too-short skirt for a nightclub excursion sexy but solid; middlebrow, not elitist. The only controversial thing she has ever done is wear sequined hot-pants and take a spill with her legs in the air at a Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco charity event in South London, for which she did about two years’ penance.

September 2008: Kate Middleton arrives at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco Charity event in South London in disco sequins, tiny shorts, and ready to roller skate.

Kate Middleton falls on the floor in a most unladylike sprawl. It was rumored that the Queen thought Kate was a show-off.

Kate Middleton has been embroiled in more than one sexy fashion faux pas. A case in point: the 2002 charity fashion event for St. Andrew's College at which she modeled this see-through "frock." Both Kate and Prince William were students at St. Andrew's at the time, and "Wills" was in the audience that night. Although he had met Kate before the $325-a-plate event, when he saw her on the catwalk, he was smitten.

“In the couple’s wedding interview, you could see the outline of their successful dynamic. William said he tried to impress Kate with his cooking, but the food would start burning, and ‘Kate would come to the rescue and take charge.’

“Third, patience. It’s taken close to a decade to reel William in. Kate has had to endure the ridicule of being Waity Katie even among the royals themselves. ‘They have been practicing long enough,’ Prince Charles said heartily at Poundbury, his model village in Devon, where he was when the news broke.

‘It’s brilliant news. It has taken them a very long time,’ commented Queen Elizabeth, who, in her business-like way had tried to get this over and done with last June before the impending calendar crush of Philip‘s 90th, her Diamond Jubilee, and the 2012 Olympics.

“In order not to fuel rumors as the perpetual princess in waiting, Kate rarely emerged with William in public of late unless it was one of those innumerable country weddings of all their mutual friends. What could she possibly have been doing all those years of trying to look busy? As she put it in the engagement interview, ‘working really hard’ at the family business that sells children’s toys and paraphernalia based in Ashampstead, near their home in Berkshire. Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still. The palace machine will take over. The portcullis will come down.

Prince William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot.

“William is a RAF search-and-rescue helicopter pilot at RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey, and the happy couple will live in a remote farmhouse in North Wales, where there is 33 inches of rain a year. There she can tend to the urgent priority of royal wife, the speedy manufacture of the heir and the spare.

“But that’s “appropriate” too. In the dire mood of the upcoming austerity cuts, England needs the joy of a royal wedding as badly as it did 30 years ago, when we watched enthralled as Charles and Di tied the knot. But she needs it on a budget. The fact that Kate’s a “commoner” is suddenly a PR boon for the royals. With an Old Etonian prime minister and a savage round of economic cutbacks, a pedigreed royal bride would be a hard message to sell to a grumpy press and parliament. Now all the royals have to do is make the wedding of the year look thrifty—perhaps the Guards’ Chapel, where William and Harry held a service to mark the 10th anniversary of their mother’s death, instead of Westminster Abbey?—and preferably green.

“Now that she’s engaged to be married to the second in line to the throne, her life is about to get more boring still.

“Most important still, Kate’s perseverance and resilience has persuaded the queen that her future granddaughter-in-law is nothing at all like Her, like Diana, the golden-haired Rebecca of the Royal House of Windsor. When William chose to bestow on Kate his mother’s 18-carat oval blue sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring, it was not only a token of love but a thrilling gesture of confident daring.

Kate Middleton's engagement ring belonged to Princess Diana

“After Diana’s death in 1997, the 15-year-old prince told his father he wanted the ring for his future engagement. He said Tuesday the ring represented a time his parents were happy. Now, after all the years the royal establishment have spent trying to erase that magical disruption known as Diana, England’s future king showed the world in the strongest, most personal way he knew how that he was determined to bring his mother back.”

Source: The Daily Beast

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Princess Diana, 1997

Following her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana downsized her life. She reduced her Kensington Palace staff to cleaner, cook, and dresser with Paul Burrell filling in the gaps as her man Friday. The police, not the Royal Protection Squad, accompanied her to public events. She pared down the list of charities she supported from 100 to 6.  

She culled her wardrobe, throwing out dresses that reminded her of her previous life, famously donating 79 of them to charity at a June 1997 Christie’s auction, including the black dress she wore while dancing with actor John Travolta at the White House in 1985.

American Actor John Travolta and Princess Diana of Great Britain dance at the White House, 1985.

She changed her friends. She dumped old confidante Elton John after he acted as a go-between with her and fashion designer Gianni Versace for Versace’s 1997 coffee-table book Rock and Royalty.  Diana blamed John for carelessly placing a photograph of the Princess and her sons in the book amid a portfolio of semi-nude male models, which Diana rightly feared would upset the Queen

In July 1997, Diana did make up with Elton John, consoling him at Versace’s memorial service. 

Princess Diana comforts rock star Elton John at the 1997 memorial for slain fashion designer Gianni Versace

By the end of August, Diana, too, would be dead, and John would play the piano at her funeral. In 2008, John reflected on Princess Diana’s last year:

I think in the end…Diana trusted the wrong people. She didn’t trust the people she should have trusted, her true friends. I always thought the people that really felt for her and really were true to her she just was a bit airy fairy towards in the end.”

Fergie was another of Diana’s old friends that got the heave-ho in the last year of her life. This rupture was also a result of the publication of a book.

Back in 1985, Sarah, the Duchess of York, and Princess Diana were close friends.

In her memoir, My Story: by Sarah, the Duchess of York, the divorced duchess shared that she and Diana wore the same size of shoes and often shared them.  Fergie claimed that she caught a verruca—a plantar wart – after wearing a pair of Diana’s shoes.

Diana was aghast that her old friend and former sister-in-law would portray her in such unflattering detail just to make a buck. Despite Fergie’s repeated apologies, Diana would not forgive her. She never spoke to Fergie again.

Brown, Tina. “Diana’s Final Heartbreak,” Vanity Fair, July 2007.

For more on Princess Diana, click here.

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Lady Diana Spencer was a nanny and nursery school teacher prior to her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales. Photo: fall, 1980

Lady Diana Spencer was understandably nervous about marrying Charles, Prince of Wales (b. 1948).  Following their February 24, 1981, engagement announcement, Diana’s whole world was turned upside down. In a flash, nineteen-year-old Diana went from part-time nanny and nursery school teacher to the future Queen of England. Two days later, she kissed freedom goodbye forever. “Shy Di” moved out of her flat at No. 60 Coleburne Court, said a hasty goodbye to her 3 giddy roommates, and moved into Buckingham Palace, where she was sequestered for the five months leading up to her July 29 wedding, protected from the press. (1)

In their first public appearance together following their February 1981 engagement announcement, Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles attended a Royal Opera benefit at London's Goldsmith Hall. Lady Diana shocked the crowd by appearing in a low-cut, strapless black taffeta evening gown. "The Dress" made headlines: "Lady Di Takes the Plunge," screamed the front page of The Daily Mirror, with splendid photos of "Shy Di" spilling out of her revealing gown.

Throughout the spring, the Palace courtiers gave Diana lessons on how to be a princess. They advised her of her royal engagements, which would average 170 a year and would include Ascot, Trooping the Color, Badminton Horse Trials, Opening of Parliament, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, hospital benefits, charities, and anything for the military. They guided her through the maze of royal rules: wear hats in public and bright colors to stand out; wave from the elbow, not the wrist; never use a public lavatory.

‘The worst thing about being a princess,’ said Diana years later, ‘is having to pee.’”(1)

They handed her stacks of history books to read about her future role as Princess of Wales.

27th March 1981: Charles, Prince of Wales, his fiancee Lady Diana Spencer, and Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, after she gave her consent for their wedding.

It was all too much for Diana. She longed to be with Charles, who was often unavailable, having embarked on a 5-week tour of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, among his other royal duties.  The Royal Family – when they were at the Palace, each with their own separate apartments - did nothing to help her feel at home. In fairness, each of the royals did have their own very busy schedules. Nevertheless, Diana was cut off from ordinary companionship. She felt insecure, lonely, and afraid.

 I missed my girls [roommates] so much I wanted to go back there and sit and giggle and borrow clothes and chat about silly things, just being in  my safe shell again….I couldn’t believe how cold everyone was [at Buckingham Palace].” (2)

Lady Diana Spencer (l.) walks with Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Racecourse in 1980, where Prince Charles was competing.

Along with palace isolation and wedding jitters, Diana agonized over whether Charles was still in love with his married mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, although Charles swore their affair was a thing of the past. How could that be true, wondered Diana. Camilla telephoned Charles constantly and he always took her calls in private. Camilla and her husband were often included as weekend house guests at Sandringham, the royal family country house. Camilla haunted Diana and Charles’s courtship days. 

Diana befriended Charles’s righthand man, Michael Colborne, peppering him with questions about Charles’s relationship with Camilla. Diana became bulimic from the worry and lost twenty pounds in just three months. She became weak and emotionally labile. 

 

Camilla Shand as a debutante in 1965. She and Prince Charles met in 1970 and considered marriage. Lord Louis Mountbatten advised Charles against marrying the love of his life, citing Camilla's wild past and lack of aristocratic lineage.

Her fears over Camilla increased when, tucked among the wedding presents in the office Diana shared with Colborne, Diana discovered a curious little parcel. Over fierce objections from Colborne, she opened it, only to discover a gold bracelet with a lapis pendant engraved with the initials “F” and “G” entwined.

Diana became enraged. She knew the significance of the two letters: earlier friends had informed her that “F” and “G” stood for “Fred and Gladys,” the pet nicknames Charles and Camilla had for each other. Diana pressed Colborne about the gift:

‘I know it’s for Camilla,’ she said. ‘So why won’t you admit it? What does it mean? Why is Charles doing this?’” (2)

Colborne refused to answer any more questions, other than to admit that he had ordered the gift at Charles’s request. Diana was livid with jealousy. 

She confronted Charles. He said he had indeed ordered the bracelet from Asprey’s for Camilla and was going to give it to her in person to signal the end of their relationship. He maintained it was a farewell gift but Diana didn’t believe him. They quarreled and she withdrew in tears.

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) in an undated photo.

The wedding day was bearing down on Diana like a freight train. Her fairytale was morphing into a nightmare. There wasn’t time enough to process all the change that was taking place in her young life.

Her weight plummeted. She became wisp-thin. Her bridal gown with its 25-foot train, puffy sleeves, and ivory taffeta was almost ready, although the dressmakers had to keep taking in the seams due to Diana’s dramatic weight loss.  Between the first and last fittings, Diana’s waist shrank from 29 inches to 23-and-a-half inches.

In June, two weeks before her wedding, Diana attended Ascot Week where she was treated by the public and the media like an international film star.

Lady Diana attends Royal Ascot for the first time, June 1981.

Everyone was fascinated with this new breed of royalty. Diana was fresh, lovely, and natural. She had a real English rose complexion. Her larkiness was such a refreshing change of pace from the stodgy Royal Family with all their rules and stiffness.

But the crush of the crowd and the press, who trailed her at every outing, distressed Diana:

‘During tea at the back of the royal box at the races she was practically in tears and had to be escorted home early.’” (3)

Lady Diana Spencer watches Prince Charles play polo at Tidworth during their engagement. The wedding is four days later. Photo: July 25, 1981

On Monday, July 28, 1981, the day before her wedding, Diana lunched with her sisters while Charles met with Camilla with the gift. Diana confided to her sisters that she didn’t want to marry someone who was still in love with his mistress.

‘It’s bad luck, Duch,’ said her sister Sarah, using the family nickname for Diana. “Your face is on the tea towels, so you’re too late to chicken out now.”” (2)

It was too late to chicken out by the time Lady Diana Spencer considered breaking her engagement to Prince Charles. Her face was on the tea-towels already.

As Sarah pointed out, it was too late. England was awash in kitchy wedding memorabilia featuring the royal couple’s photos. London was crawling with tourists and international journalists and television crews. Sadly, there was no turning back for Diana.

The wedding went ahead as scheduled at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Queen had sent 2,500 invitations to friends, families, and heads of state, plus the crowned heads of Europe. The ceremony was telecast to 750 million people. On that July day, Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997) became newly titled as Diana, Princess of Wales. She outranked all other women in the realm, except Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother. (1)

Wedding Bells chimed on July 29, 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Diana was right to have been worried about Camilla breaking up her marriage. Shortly after marrying Diana – some say five years later, others, that they never stopped seeing each other -  the Prince resumed his relationship with Camilla. The marriage was long over before the royal Wales divorced in 1996.

(1) Kelley, Kitty. The Royals. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997.

(2) Morton, Andrew. Diana – Her True Story – In Her Own Words. Michael O’Mara Books, Ltd., 2003.

(3) Bradford, Sarah. Elizabeth: A Biography of Her Majesty The Queen. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.

Readers: For more on Princess Diana, click here.

 

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Princess Diana and lover Dodi Al Fayed in the summer of 1997.

“The more I hear and read and think about Diana’s and Dodi’s deaths in the Pont d’Alma tunnel, in Paris, on August 31, 1997, in what is possibly the world’s most famous car crash, the more I doubt the truth of their great romance. If it was anything at all, it was a flirt, a fling…. Like the conspiracy theory surrounding their deaths, their romance, too, was orchestrated by Mohamed Al Fayed [Dodi's father]. The shrine to the eternal love of Dodi and Diana, in Harrods, the most famous of English department stores, owned by Al Fayed [until May 2010], is a popular tourist attraction. People line up to look at it. They speak in whispers, as if they were in church…. 

“The shrine, which is tacky but curiously touching, consists of a fountain, two large portraits—one of Dodi and one of Diana—and floor-lamp-size candles, the scent of lilies in the air. Under a glass pyramid is a crystal glass from which one of them had drunk champagne in the Imperial Suite of the Ritz Hotel just before they died, and the so-called engagement ring, which Dodi had bought that afternoon at the jewelry shop down the street from the Ritz. Diana never wore it.

They had been romantically involved with each other for less than a month. 

Harrods shrine for Princess Diana & Dodi Fayed. Harrods' former owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, is Dodi's father. At the six-month inquest of Dodi and Diana's death (2007-2008), Al Fayed testified of his belief in a vast conspiracy by the British Royal Family under the direction of Prince Philip to murder Princess Diana. The inquest into Princess Diana's death that was carried out at the Royal Courts of Justice in London concluded she and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed by gross negligence of their driver, who was speeding and was more than three times over French drunk driving limit. (Lisa's History Room)

Pakistani-born cardiologist, Hasnat Khan (b. 1960), who was purported to be the love of Princess Diana's life. They met in London in 1995 and carried on an affair until he ended the relationship. No photographs exist of the couple. (Lisa's History Room)

“All was not as it seemed in the love department of the famous Dodi-Diana romance. Several friends of Diana’s told me she was downhearted after the breakup of her romance with Hasnat Khan, the Pakistani surgeon, with whom she was still in love. They say Khan ended his serious relationship with Diana because, as a respected doctor, he could not stand the publicity that overwhelmed her life…. 

“What is rarely mentioned, although it is well known, is the existence of a beautiful American model named Kelly Fisher, who wore on her left hand an enormous and very expensive engagement ring. She says her fiancé had bought her a mansion in Malibu, where they would live after their marriage. She had tentatively set the date of August 9, 1997, for the wedding, nearly a month off. Her fiancé was Dodi Al Fayed. 

American underwear model Kelly Fisher, who claimed to be Dodi Al Fayed's fiancee. Dec. 2007 (Lisa's History Room)

“The two – Dodi and Kelly Fisher – were in Paris together on July 14, when Dodi was summoned by his father to join Princess Diana 

on the Jonikal,the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed had reportedly purchased for $20 million the day after the Princess accepted his invitation for a sailing trip with her sons, William and Harry.

Princess Diana on the Jonikal, the yacht Mohamed Al Fayed bought exclusively to entertain her. July 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

Kelly was left behind in Paris, though a few days later she was flown to St. Tropez and transported to another Al Fayed yacht. There she languished during the day while waiting for evening visits from Dodi. 

“Diana returned to the Jonikal in August. The fact that she came back for a second visit so soon really shows her loneliness more than it does a passion for Dodi. Her two sons were at Balmoral, one of the Queen’s castles, with their father, Prince Charles, and their grandparents the Queen and Prince Philip, as was their August habit. Diana wasn’t being invited around to the great English estates for long weekends. She had become too famous. It was too difficult to have her stay. Strangers gathered at the gates to get a glimpse of her. Helicopters hovered. She really had no place to go.

Charles, the Prince of Wales (center) is flanked by his two sons, Princes William or "Wills" (l) and Henry or "Harry." This photo, taken by the boys' nanny at the royal estate Balmoral in Scotland, was their 1996 Christmas card. In that year, Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced.

“The Jonikal invitations were perfect. A splendid yacht. A helicopter. A private plane. Guards to keep the paparazzi at bay. She probably knew that she was being used by a social climber for his and his son’s advancement in London society, but in high society it was a fair deal. Each benefited.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed on the Jonikal July/August 1997 (Lisa's History Room)

This photo of Diana, Princess of Wales, kissing Dodi Al Fayed appeared in the Sunday Mirror on August 10, 1997, as she vacationed on Dodi's father's yacht, the Jonikal. Three weeks later, Dodi and Di would be killed in a car accident in Paris. (Lisa's History Room)

“The shrine to the eternal love of Diana and Dodi, on view at Harrods, doesn’t have quite the same impact once you hear about Kelly’s role in the story. It’s still tacky, but it’s no longer touching. It’s calculated. What Al Fayed has created is a shrine to himself: “Look at how I have suffered” is the message…. 

“Dodi loved taking movie stars to Hollywood parties and premieres and being photographed with them. He once said to his friend, former gossip columnist Jack Martin, 

‘When do you think I’ll go out with a girl so famous I’ll get my picture on the cover of People?’

“… ‘Well, he got his wish.’ said Jack. ‘A little late, though.’”

Princess Diana graces the cover of the August 25, 1997, issue of People Magazine. (Lisa's History Room)

source:  “Two Ladies, Two Yachts, and a Billionaire,” by Dominick Dunne, May 2008, Vanity Fair.

Readers: For more posts on this blog about the British Royal Family, click here.  See, in particular, “Princess Diana: Death Photos Leaked.”

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Sarah Ferguson watches polo at Windsor with Princess Diana, in 1985, the year before she married into the British Royal Family and became the Duchess of York

Sarah Ferguson –  “Fergie” –  and Princess Diana (1961-1997) knew each other for six years before Fergie married Prince Andrew in 1986 and became a member of the Royal Family. The two women had first met on the polo circuit, as Diana’s husband Prince Charles was an avid player and Fergie’s father, Sir Ronald Ferguson, was the Prince’s polo manager.

Soon after meeting, Diana and Fergie (b. 1959) became fast friends. The timid and reserved Diana was intoxicated by Fergie’s loud and breezy energy:

“The two girls would burn up the telephone wires trading gossip and irreverent royal tidbits they could share with no one else.” (1)

Since Diana’s 1981 wedding to Charles, she had been starved of fun. Diana thought about how lovely it would be to have Fergie as a mate in the Royal Family. In June of 1985, Diana decided to play royal matchmaker and make it happen. She wangled an invitation for Fergie to not only attend the Queen’s Ascot Week house party at Windsor Castle , but managed also to get the boisterous redhead seated next to the Queen’s second son, the 25-year-old Prince Andrew, a very eligible bachelor and second in line for the throne.

Sarah, the Duchess of York ("Fergie") and Diana, Princess of Wales, 1987

Within an hour of meeting Fergie, Andrew was “chatting her up” and “flirtatiously coaxing a merry-eyed Ms. Ferguson to eat every one of the chocolate profiteroles [cream puffs] on her plate.” (1) A year later, Fergie and Andrew were married at Westminster Abbey as the Duke and Duchess of York. Di had gotten her ally in the family.

This commemorative stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1986 to commemorate the Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson. They became the Duke and Duchess of York.

 
Encouraged by Fergie’s wildness, Diana began to loosen up publicly. She became a bit of a royal daredevil. Memorably, in June 1987, she and Fergie were photographed at Royal Ascot poking Fergie’s old school friend Lulu in the behind with their umbrellas, called “brollies” in England.  (2) 

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (l), and Princess Diana (r) attend the Royal Ascot, June 1987.

The Ascot Umbrella Caper – dubbed “the Brolly Folly” – drew public scorn. Woodrow Wyatt recorded in his memoirs that his wife saw Diana at Ascot

fooling about in the most childish manner, pulling people’s hair and tweaking them.”

The Sun reported the incident, referring to Fergie and Diana caustically as “silly, simpering girls.” It was the first of many desperate attempts Diana and Fergie made to “unstiffen” royal protocol. 

Over time, the fallout from the bad press would affect Diana and Fergie differently. Diana would weather the public criticism better than Fergie. With Diana’s tragic death, charity work, and sad marriage, the public has been more forgiving of her wild days. The late Princess Diana is lovingly remembered today as the People’s Princess.

Fergie, however, at age 50, continues to court disaster with her impetuous ways and money woes. Matter of fact, with the latest bribery scandal and “Oprah” TV appearance, the Duchess of York is being referred to in the press as the Duchess of Disaster. 

 
 
 

An image made from video shows the Duchess of York apparently selling access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for 500,000 British pounds to an undercover reporter from the UK tabloid, "News of the World." (foxnews.com_May 24, 2010)

(1) Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles. New York: Doubleday, 2007.

(2) “Births, Deaths, & Marriages.” Thirty Years of Majesty. Vol. 31, No. 5.

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