A pink taxi

A pink taxi

August 29, 2010

Lady Diana's Blue Dress

I find it surprising that  most people remember where they were when Princess Diana died. It has become an event in popular history at the same scale of  John F Kennedy Jr's death or even of  September 11th. I am thus reminded of when my parents discovered the news of the Shah of Iran's death, while we drove through the Loire Valley.

More than her unfortunate death, I have fond memories of Lady Diana's royal wedding, which I saw on TV. We happened to be in London that summer of 1981, which made the event all the more special for me. It also was one of the first "global events" since it was now broadcasted around the world.  My mother had just delivered my younger brother and we vacationed for the first and last time in London. That is the summer I discovered British milk delivered in glass bottles and the Madame Toussaud Museum, which terrified me so much that I in turn scared my brother with tales of dungeon wax men marching to his bedroom at night.

I was eleven when Lady Di got married, an age that is conducive to daydreaming. Finding a role model is what many children do at that age. I chose the shy, elegant, charming bride as mine. I purchased all the memorabilia associated with her. I believe my parents bought me two photo books that I studied with much curiosity. With my younger sister, we used to select which photos were of her and which ones of me, carefully imagining what we would look like in the dresses and gowns she wore. I also had paper dolls of Diana, Charles and Mrs Reagan that Diana had met. Naturally, neither of us wanted to be Nancy Reagan, quickly dismissed as the lady with the big head, or Prince Charles, who was starched looking and boring. Even us children could tell that the royal couple were not well suited.

When we returned  to Dubai, my mom would pour the Nido milk that I abhorred, in one of those memorabilia mugs with Diana's effigy . Diana's smiling face and trademark haircut were not encouraging enough for me to drink the powdered milk, while I missed the fresh British milk.

I brought back other memorabilia.
I purchased a folder for my now more complicated school work, since I was in 6th grade. However, I was too young to understand  that I was attending a French school in the Francois Mitterand days, and the teachers were socialist, not royalist. Furthermore, the British-French divide dates from the War of the Roses and the engagement photo of Diana and Charles exacerbated my French teachers' anti-British feelings.

By 1982, I had convinced my mother to cut my hair short for the first time. I now sported the Diana haircut which gave me the confidence I needed at age 12. Incidentally, it was the year my youngest aunt got married. Her dress was fluffy and romantic like Diana's. She also had a Diana hairstyle and I was her bridesmaid, my first public role.

I obviously wasn't the only one infatuated with Diana. She had fans all over the world, namely, the Pet Shop Boys, the very British group I love, composed a song about her. Here below are  some of the poetic lyrics.

Dreaming of the Queen

Visiting for tea
You and her and I
And Lady Di
The Queen said: "I'm aghast
Love never seems to last
However hard you try"
And Di replied
That there are no more lovers left alive
No one has survived
So there are no more lovers left alive
And that's why love has died
Yes, it's true
Look, it's happened to me and you
Then carriages arrived
We stood and said goodbye
Diana dried her eyes
And looked surprised

Depeche Mode, also my favorite British group alluded to her Blue Dress, the one she wore on her engagement. In the bedroom where all four siblings slept, I insisted on hanging the poster of Charles and Diana as seen above in this posting. She is wearing her blue iconic dress and sporting her sapphire ring. My brother swears that at night, her eyes used to move from side to side!


  1. It is amazing how idols are created especially if they have the right PR,and happen to die young and in a tragic way!Look at James Dean,Marlin Monroe; even Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.Yet poor Bridget Bardot,Sophia Lauren and other beautiful stars who had the luck to live to a ripe age,lost their allure and idol status that they enjoyed before they crossed the unkind gate of reaching the age of forty which is rather old for stars to remain idols!

  2. I've never fully understood the Lady Di craze! She was instantly turned into a marketable pop idol and Gay icon in a very Warholesque way and captured the imagination of her English subjects and the entire world from the Thatcher/Reagan era until she tragically reached martydom at a young age in Paris in 1997, a victim of her own craze and fame. To her credit and discredit, she rode the English New Wave and the materialism and the superficiality of the 80s. Everyone was obsessed with what she was wearing as perfectly captured by the song "New Dress" by Depeche Mode.

  3. As the blogger's younger sister, I often inherited clothes, dolls and toys from her. Before she left to boarding school, we shared a room with our brother. The youngest brother, still a baby, was sleeping with my parents, although it is possible that we all slept in one room at one point in time. It was the era of uncomplicated schedules and sibling intimacy. How things have changed since!

    Anyway, when mme blogger departed at age 14, I was 7, and missed her terribly. I was reminded of her with the Madonna songs I would hear on the radio that would make me cry. I was reminded of her when I read my Martines and Hans Christen Andersen stories and she wasn't there to console me with some of the unhappy endings. I missed her too when I played paper dolls, and I didn't find my "au pair" sister (she really was the best baby sitter ever!) to play with me. I had been abandoned to my two brothers, would were not interested whatsoever in Barbies and dolls, except for Ken's ferrari.

    However, it was before falling asleep that I remembered my sister most. She had left all her posters on the wall, and there was lady Di, a huge poster of her image, staring back at me in the dark.....Her eyes really did move!