I didn’t have a huge interest in the British royals, though I’ve seen two movies featuring George VI (The King’s Speech and Hyde Park on the Hudson). His successor, his elder daughter Queen Elizabeth II, has been monarch for my entire life. The late Anthony Armstrong-Jones, the royal photographer, and QEII’s former brother-in-law (her sister Margaret’s ex), had his birthday on 7 March, as do I.
But it was impossible not to be aware of the wedding on 29 July 1981 between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. As I noted back on 2013-07-27, about a half a year after the event, my friend Jessica developed a parody skit of that event, a narrative accompanied by a slide show. The presentation was the Eighth Step Coffee House when it was still located at First Presbyterian Church, and it was hilariously irreverent. I played the Archbishop of Canterbury.
When Diana died on 31 August 1997, I thought it was most unfortunate. But like QEII, as portrayed in the movie The Queen, I did not realize what an outpouring of grief would transpire.
I know my ex-girlfriend (now my wife) was more affected as well. They were about the same age, among other things. I don’t know if she knew that the Spencers were related to her family, the Olins, at that time, though it’s been much codified since, so they are actually distant cousins.
Still, in my possession is a CD of the BBC Recording of the Funeral Service of 6 September, released on 30 September. I may have purchased it for someone else. I play it nearly every year around this time, and I find it quite moving. The tolling of the bells, the various hymns and readings, her brother Earl Spencer’s loving but bitter tribute, and of course, Elton John’s reworking of his song Candle In The Wind [listen]. Rerecorded shortly thereafter, it became one of the biggest singles of all time.