30 June 2011

A World WITH Diana

Diana Princess of Wales would have been 50 years old on July 1, 2011. This milestone anniversary (as with all anniversaries or events associated with the late princess) has inspired many journalists, bloggers and others to commiserate with each other over what might have been. Would she have approved of Catherine Middleton? Would she have become Facebook friends with Camilla? How many husbands and children would she have had? Some outlets have even gone so far as to show images of what Diana would look like were she alive today.

Diana, Princess of Wales, accompanied by her son Prince William (R), is seen arriving at Wimbledon's Centre Court before the start of the Women's Singles final in London in this July 2, 1994 file photograph. Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, Buckingham Palace said on November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS)

As I have clearly indicated by my #DontBuyNewsweek campaign on Twitter, I believe most of this is falderol or, to quote myself "tacky, tasteless tripe." Having said this, however, I think there are a few things we know with some certainty would be different if Diana were still with us.

1. She would not be friends with Sarah Duchess of York.
Okay, maybe she would have finally forgiven Sarah for talking about her in a negative light in Sarah's first autobiography, My Story: Sarah the Duchess of York, but that does not mean they would have been the buddies that Sarah seems to imagine they would be. Even Sarah has admitted that they were in one of their "quiet periods" when Diana died. In fact, they had not spoken for a year and the fact that this is just "one of" the times when Diana cut Sarah off does not bode well for the BFF image Sarah tries to cultivate. Diana was not renowned for maintaining strong, long-lasting relationships. Perhaps they both would have matured and reunited over their commonalities, but I am persuaded that Diana would be less than impressed by Sarah's ongoing struggles and recoveries.

A pair of photographs show Kate Middleton (L), fiance of Britain's Prince William posing in London November 16, 2010 and William's mother Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing the same engagment ring in London in an August 28, 1996 file photo. Britain's Prince William is to marry his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton next year, after an on-off courtship lasting nearly a decade, bringing months of speculation about his intentions to an end. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/Dan Chung (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY ROYALS PROFILE)
2. Catherine would have a different engagement ring.
You must remember that I never thought Prince William would give his bride his mother's engagement ring, and time certainly proved me wrong. But, it was almost certainly the strong sentimentality generated by his mother's death that inspired him to give it to Catherine. As he said at the time, "It was my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today." If Diana had been alive the ring would not represent a memory of her; rather it would represent her unhappy marriage and bitter divorce.

3. Camilla would still be Public Enemy #1
Many people still cast Camilla as the archvillain in the Wars of the Waleses. Many others believe she is no more culpable than the rest of the cast of characters, including Diana herself. Nevertheless, effervescent, beautiful, charitable Diana would have continued to dominate the media's attention and the world's hearts had she lived and Camilla would never have had a chance to be recognized as anything other than her enemy, the woman who ruined her life. And Diana would have had no interest in making it easier on Charles and Camilla. The squabble would likely have continued in the media. As a result, I seriously doubt there would be a Duchess of Cornwall today.

Earl Charles Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales, poses in front of family home at Althorp, near Northampton, in this June 28, 2001 file photo. Spencer is rumoured to be among the 1,900 guests invited to attend the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011, according to local media. REUTERS/Staff/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: PROFILE ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS)
4. No one would know who Earl Spencer was
Okay, a lot of people don't know who Charles 9th Earl Spencer is but he would be a complete nonentity if his sister Diana were still alive. He would still get occasional attention as he did as "Champagne Charlie" when Diana first emerged on the world's stage, but all of that attention would be negatively focused on his acrimonious divorces and fights with friends. He would not be known as the sacred guardian of Diana's memory, a mantle he gave himself with his eulogy at Diana's funeral. While castigating the royal family and the media, Spencer pledged to look after her sons and to raise them as she would wish them to be raised. How well he fulfilled that promise might be evidenced by the fact that Prince William did not attend the earl's latest wedding in June 2011.

5. Mohammed al Fayed who?
Likewise Mohammed al Fayed, father of Diana's companion at the time of her death, Dodi Fayed, would only be known as the owner of Harrod's rather than as a grief-stricken, revenge-seeking father. Al Fayed's constant assertion that his son and Diana were assassinated in a political conspiracy has fueled investigations, books and now a film, "Unlawful Killing." While Diana's children have publicly accepted the conclusions of inquests by the governments in Britain and France, where the deaths took place, Al Fayed remains in denial. He has now constructed two memorials to the couple's memory in his London store and fully believes that they would have married, telling everyone that Dodi was planning to propose that night.

6. Paul Burrell would never have had a single column inch
Following Diana's death, her former butler Paul Burrell was charged with stealing items from her estate, which he said he was merely holding in trust for her sons at the queen's request. The case was dismissed when the queen suddenly recalled this conversation. Burrell also gained notoriety for his inconsistent and possibly inaccurate testimony at Diana's inquest. While managing to escape jail time in both instances, he has built up a new career for himself writing about Diana and the royal family and appearing on reality TV shows. If Diana had lived, he would probably still be somebody's butler.

Children play in the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in central London June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ENVIRONMENT)
7. It goes without saying...
Many books, movies and memorials would not have been produced if Diana had survived. There would be no Diana Memorial Playground, Walk and Fountain in Kensington. The movie "The Queen" would never have been produced and Helen Mirren could not have won an Oscar for it. The exhibition, "Diana: A Celebration," would not be touring the world, and no one would know that there is an island in the middle of a lake at Althorp.

For more, read my article, "If Diana Had Lived."
(Read my 2010 post "Diana and Me)

13 June 2011

A Royal Marathon

England's royal ladies have been on a virtual treadmill of events over the last 10 days, from the Derby, to Trooping the Color, to the thanksgiving for Prince Philip's 90th birthday, to the Garter Ceremony. With Ascot just around the corner, they are keeping photographers and royal watchers busy with hats and dresses in every hue.

During the Queen's official birthday celebrations/Trooping the Colour, more than 50 members of the royal family gathered on the balcony, including (from left) Lady Frederidk Windsor, The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, The Countess and Earl of Wessex with their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, Timothy Lawrence, The Princess Royal, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Prince of Wales.

A better view of The Princess Anne Princess Royal in the military attire she wore for Trooping the Colour. She is honourary commander of a number of regiments.

The Queen wore baby blue to give thanks for her husband's longevity, while Prince William made sure the driving rain didn't ruin his bride's periwinkle coat.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall in butter yellow and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge in dove gray at the Garter Ceremony.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth (6th R) and her husband Prince Philip (4th R) and members of the royal family watch a fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after attending the Trooping the Colour ceremony in central London June 11, 2011. (L-R) Lady Frederik Windsor, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Sophie, Duchess of Wessex, Prince Edward, Louise Windsor, Tim Lawrence, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY ROYALS)

Britain's Princess Anne rides a horse as she makes her way from Buckingham Palace to attend the Trooping the Colour ceremony in central London June 11, 2011. Trooping the Colour is a ceremony to honour the sovereign's official birthday. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY ROYALS)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip arrive at St. Georges Chapel for a service to mark Prince Philip's 90th birthday, in Windsor, west of London June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Carl Court/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY RELIGION ROYALS)

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at St. Georges Chapel for a service to mark Prince Philip's 90th birthday, in Windsor, west of London June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Carl Court/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY RELIGION ROYALS)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge chats with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (L) as the Earl of Derby holds a camera during the procession pass of the Order of The Garter Service in Windsor, England June 13, 2011. REUTERS/Kirsty Wigglesworth/POOL (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS)

08 June 2011

Pic: The Queen of D.C.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik look fresh as peaches despite temperatures soaring to 98 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 37 degrees Celsius) in Washington, D.C. today. During their official visit to the U.S. Capitol, they took a moment for souvenir photos on with the national mall, the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument as a backdrop. You definitely get to go places as a royal lady, but you might want to double check the weather forecast before opting to wear a jacket on a sweltering day.

Yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria showed Her Majesty around the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Margrethe also visited the Smithsonian, where she got to see First Lady Michelle Obama's famous inauguration gown.

Meanwhile, back across the pond, Queen Elizabeth II was speaking at the opening of the National Assembly in Wales. When you're the queen of so many lands, you're often asked to perform this kind of duty. Elizabeth has so many realms, you could probably make a full-time job just out of opening parliaments, assemblies, etc.

Denmark's Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik pose on the speaker's balcony on Capitol Hill in Washington June 8, 2011. REUTERS/ Yuri Gripas/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS)

Danish Queen Margrethe II (R) and Victoria Kennedy, widow of the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, view the exterior of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where the Royal Danish Ballet is performing, in Washington June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Theiler (UNITED STATES - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS SOCIETY)

Denmark's Queen Margrethe II smiles next to an exhibit displaying U.S. first lady Michelle Obama's inauguration ball gown during a visit at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Theiler (UNITED STATES - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaks inside the Siambr (Chamber) during the opening of the fourth session of the National Assembly for Wales at the Senedd, in Cardiff, Wales June 7, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Cardy/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS SOCIETY POLITICS)

06 June 2011

Pic: Going National

One of the cool things about being a Nordic royal is that you get to wear fun and colorful traditional costumes on national holidays like Queen Silvia of Sweden wore today on National Day. When I studied in Norway, I learned that the costumes are varied according to the region or village where they originate. They also tend to be very expensive so most women have one and have to try to fit into their entire lives.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf (L) and Queen Silvia (R) arrive in procession on a horse-drawn carriage at the outdoor museum of Skansen to celebrate the Swedish national day in Stockholm, Sweden June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix (SWEDEN - Tags: ROYALS ANNIVERSARY) SWEDEN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWEDEN. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

05 June 2011

Pics: A Day at the Races

Horse racing has been called the sport of kings. In England, it is definitely the Queen's favorite sport and the entire royal family joins her for Derby Day every June. The Queen's horse once again did not win, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves any way.

1. The Queen was in the pink surrounded by family and horses.
2. Princess Eugenie and her cousin Prince Harry got into the spirit.
3. Then Eugenie shared a giggle with her new cousin-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge

Britain's Queen Elizabeth walks onto the Royal box balcony after her horse lost in the Epsom Derby at Epsom Racecourse in southern England June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT HORSE RACING SOCIETY ROYALS)

Britain's Princess Eugenie (L) and and Prince Harry (R) watch the Epsom Derby at Epsom Racecourse in southern England June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT HORSE RACING SOCIETY ROYALS)

Catherine, Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, (L) jokes with Princess Eugenie as they attend Epsom Derby horse race at Epsom Racecourse in southern England June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT HORSE RACING ROYALS)

01 June 2011

Pic: Camilla In a Whirlwind

Not every woman could smile on an occasion like this: caught in a heavy wind, hair and scarf destroyed in front of masses of photographers ready to sell the photo around the world. But, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall always seems to be having a jolly time. She was on a visit to Edinburgh today when Mother Nature tried to rearrange her coiffure, but Camilla didn't let a bad hair day slow her down for a second.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is swept by strong winds as she visits the Grass Market Community Project in Edinburgh June 1, 2011. REUTERS/Neil Hanna/POOL (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY ROYALS)