In June I traveled to Edmonton to attend Diana: A Celebration, the exhibit featuring Princess Diana’s clothes and personal effects at the West Edmonton Mall. It was an emotional experience, coupling the thrill of seeing her personal items, especially the wedding dress, “in the flesh” so to speak, with the heartbreak of her funeral.
The exhibit contained 9 rooms and followed the major events of her life in order. Each room was lit dramatically, with home videos playing and large posters on the walls, giving details of each of the items on display.
One of the highlights for me was a personal appointment diary from 1981. It was red leather, approximately 8.5 x 5 in size, showing the week on two pages. It listed lunches with her friends and family, and appointments to get her legs waxed. Diana’s handwriting was very large and loopy.
There were also lots of personal letters on display, from her to various people. A Christmas card from Charles was featured; it was signed “from your tap-dancing partner.”
Something I had never seen before: a log book of sorts, detailing each dinner party at Althorp, who had attended, what was served, and who sat where. It was open to the page that listed Diana and Charles, meeting for the first time, seated next to each other.
The wedding dress and related items had their own room, and it truly took my breath away. A video played on continuous loop, and I heard Diana’s voice saying her wedding day was the “happiest day of her life.”
For me the exhibit abruptly took a nasty, dark turn. We went from the wedding room to the funeral room. It was very dark, with roses on the floor, and a huge video screen featured her funeral. Elton John’s song Goodbye England’s Rose played, and there were tissue boxes placed strategically around the room. I stayed in the room for as short a time as I felt was respectful; I was struck by the lack of context for the years in between her wedding and her death. I had thought there would be a room dedicated to her boys, which gave her so much joy. And perhaps to the life she started to lead after her divorce, in which I’m sure she found happiness. It just seemed too abrupt to go from such light to such darkness.
The remainder of the exhibit dealt with her legacy. There was a prayer book given to Diana from Mother Theresa, which had a lovely inscription:
Jesus is the truth to be told;
Jesus is the life to be lived;
Jesus is the love to be loved;
Jesus is the light to be lit.
Let us love Jesus with an undivided love,
And others, as He loves you and me.
– Mother Theresa, 1992
There was a souvenir area at the end of the exhibit but the only thing I wanted, a rose pen with the Althorp crest, was out of stock. So I pacified myself with these finds at the nearby Pottery Barn.
It did strike me as odd that I should choose notebooks celebrating Paris, where Diana died, after having such a reaction to her funeral video in the exhibit. But I just love these and had to have them.
The three covers after untying the string.
Lined, unlined and grid, as advertised.
The back covers. Vive la France! And rest in peace Diana; we will never forget you.