Apr 16, 2011

Royal Wedding and Princess Di

With the April 29 date looming, the world is starting to be fixated on all things royal again, or more specifically all things British royal. The empire sun may have set but the magnetic fascination remains whether amongst ex-colonies or otherwise.

And the biggest reason for this may well be Princess Diana and her iconic legacy. From fairytale romanticism to a very public sensational divorce, shy awkwardness to fashionista icon, heroine charitable work to controversial courting of the parapazzi, and finally a tragic untimely death at the age of 36 years. The world grew with her, sympathised with her, was enthralled by her, and ultimately grieved by her departure.

I recall the September of 1997 – the aftermath of her death on 31 August 1997 - when I went to London for my studies and Kensington Gardens was full of flowers for the departed people's princess. I recall in my year in London, collecting whatever memorabilia I could get my hands on for a friend who was a diehard Princess Di fan, within my poor student's budget - be it a photograph of Princess Di or a Hello! clip of Prince William who was her splitting image - anything to remember her by. It was as if a part of our public consciousness died along with her then and what was left was only regret, poignancy, even anger, and eventually acceptance and moving on.

And now, more than 13 years on, we have another royal wedding. So many years have gone by that Prince William has grown mature, regretfully I have to say, to look less like his mother. Over the years, I had read the news with passing interest of the 2 princes' growing up, their schooling, their teen years, their joining the national services, and even whatever little romantic interests the press can dig up, including this Kate Middleton girl, who until now I struggle to remember the name.

In a way, I was concerned but not overly interested because I felt that the press was largely responsible for the death of Princess Di and having public interest fuel another parapazzi circus to hound her sons was the last that she would have wished for.

But what did touch me from the news - that finally sunk in my consciouness about the impending wedding - was ironically, a gossipy report on the guests to the royal wedding.. It mentioned at the end, that the usually celebrity-adverse prince was trying everything he can to honour his late mother at the wedding. He has invited Elton John on account of his friendship with Princess Di, and he is placing his late mother's engagement ring on his fiancee's finger.

I am reminded again of the poignant image of the young Princes William and Harry at Princess Diana's funeral. Yes, the princes have grown. And the royal saga continues. Already the press is trying to compare the new bride with Princess Di and attempting to whip up the same fever and intrigue that glued the world to the late Princess of Wales.

I confess that I will probably watch the royal wedding with more than a passing interest. But I do secretly hope that the wedding will be just that. No unfolding saga to follow because that would be a tragedy. And most of all, despite the controversy surrounding the life and legacy of the late Princess Diana, she lived a life and with an impact on the world like no other - an irreplaceable icon I say. We should just continue to respect that.

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