Many royalty watchers have their favourite royal(s). Last week I interviewed 33-year-old Sophie from Belgium, who has been a big fan of Diana, Princess of Wales, already for many years. Many Dutch royalty fans might know her as the owner of the All Things Royal forum, the best forum for discussing royals – not only Diana – in Dutch.
You have been a fan of Princess Diana for years. How did it all start?
– It began when I was 6/7 years old. We had this so-called ‘leesmap’ at home (portfolio with magazines; for foreign readers: you subscribe to a service where you received each week a sort of binder with a selection of magazines in it. If you wanted recent editions of the magazine, you paid a high price. The older the lesser you had to pay, and you were only to keep them for a week). Inside that leesmap were the Dutch gossip magazines Privé, Weekend and Story. It was around 1990/1991 and I loved seeing pictures of Diana. As a child she really appealed to me: she was pretty and with her tiara and other jewels she was very much a Princess to me. Towards 1992 gossip emerged about the state of the marriage and a little bit later The War of the Waleses was in full force. At that time it was hook, line and sinker for me.
Looking back, it was weird to see it all unfold. Seeing the prelude to the Morton-book and the storm it created.
What about her does fascinate you?
– Her strength, her complicated character, her X-factor/charisma.
What kind of items do you collect? And what is your favourite item?
With royalty in general my focus is on books and special magazines and with Diana it is not different. Though I do have two keychains, five jigsaw puzzles, a deck of playing cards, some post cards and six Diana dolls from Franklin Mint.
Which Diana-book is your favourite?
Argh, this is a though one! I love the picture books by Jayne Fincher and Alison Gauntlett.
How did you learn about her death?
I was 13 and after I was awake I went to the bathroom. My father was already up and when he heard that I was awake he went upstairs. He immediately said: “Diana is dead”. I quickly went downstairs with him, asking of course ‘How?’. Watched some special reports.
Weirdly enough, I never cried. I remember fully agreeing with Diana’s brother Charles when he delivered a first statement from South Africa and applauded him for his speech during the funeral (hey, I was 13! Don’t judge me)
You recently visited the Diana fashion exhibition at Kensington Palace What did you think of it?
It was lovely to see her dresses for the first time. I sadly never made it to the exhibition in Althorp, where clothes and other items from Diana were shown. I do wish Kensington Palace would have done something more with this exhibition. Diana was more then a clothes horse. Personal items, stories and focus on her charity work would have been lovely in this special year.
Which dress is your favourite?
Another hard question! I love so many dresses! But the black Christina Stambolian cocktail dress she famously wore on the evening Princess Charles admitted to adultery on TV is a definite favourite!
There have been several new documentaries, lots of articles. What do you think about them? Have you learnt anything new? Anything that irritates you?
I didn’t learn anything new, but it was great to hear and see the boys finally speak about her. After all the conspiracies and other things they had to endure about their mother and her death, it was good to hear their side. And it is great to hear people from the time of the War of the Waleses: Andrew Morton, Richard Kay, Charles Rae, Ken Wharfe, Patrick Jephson, Jayne Fincher,…
What irritated me: the faults that were made in the Dutch documentary series Lady Di & Dionne. Proper research and reading would have helped.