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Updated on August 15, 2011

“Grandparents are a great blessing,” is what everyone hears from the days of their childhood, but not many are able to understand until very late as to what it actually means. For me too, until very lately, the sole reason behind this was the endless stocks of bedtime stories that they had coupled with their dramatic or rather theatrical narration. Like many other kids I grew up listening to the tales of faraway lands, of kings and queens, of princes and princesses, of warriors and knights, pixies and monsters and of course, most of the times of…fairies!

Curious as all little children are; no amount of descriptions given by my grandma would satisfy me and I was always intrigued to see what these lovely fairies looked like. And finally, one day I saw a fairy…

It was in August of 1996 when I saw a photo of Princess Diana of Wales in the newspaper one morning…and I was mesmerized! She HAD to be the fairy from my stories. I ran to my granny’s room and showed her the fairy I had just seen. She laughed and nodded, and from then onwards Princess Diana became the strongest influencing factor of my life.

As I grew up, I began to research and follow her closely: saw all her pictures available, went through all her interviews, and of course saw her wedding video about a trillion times (discovering a unique charm in it every time). And with time, I discovered that it was more than just beauty in her that attracted people across the globe…there was simplicity and purity, a magical charm, a sort of unexplainable magnetism - she truly wasn’t ordinary!

There were a lot of substantial human values and ample ethics that her glamorous looks and fashionable ways had wrapped inside them. Having come from a royal lineage, she of course had all the sophistication that a lady requires. She was schooled according to the royal traditions. She was no whiz kid and was often noted for her shyness, yet, she showed exceptional talent in music and aspired to be a ballerina. She also had a profound liking for children which ultimately made her serve as a kindergarten teacher.

Her marriage too, was truly a “fairy tale wedding”, as the world puts it. I for one am stunned, each time I go through the wedding for no one could ever have looked so beautiful yet so simple, so glamorous yet so innocent.

She wasn’t from amongst the ordinary and all that she did truly added grace to femininity. She defied all the norms and conventions. She wasn’t at all reluctant to discuss her pregnancies openly with the press, she was regarded a highly devoted and demonstrative mother. She rarely deferred to Prince Charles or to the Royal Family, and was often intransigent when it came to the children. She chose their first given names, dismissed a royal family nanny and engaged one of her own choosing, selected their schools and clothing, planned their outings and took them to school herself as often as her schedule permitted. She also negotiated her public duties around their timetables.

It is unfortunate that her marriage wasn't a happy one and ended quite bitterly. However, what is interesting and of course inspiring is the strength and boldness with which this otherwise shy girl faced it all. There was a grace in her being sorrowful and how she didn’t let it all get to her heart is something that not everyone can do.

But above everything else it was her strong belief in and love for humanity that won a million hearts. She was, almost all throughout her life engaged in charity work for various organizations. She had developed a special interest in serious illnesses and health-related matters outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy. During her final year, Diana lent highly visible support to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a campaign that went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Her visit to Pakistan to see the cancer stricken children was also a truly overwhelming gesture. It was her sheer simplicity that made her blend in so well with the ailing children and her families here.

“Only the good die young,” is what we commonly hear and I am certain this was said for people like this “Princess of the Hearts”. Her death has been the biggest shock of life till date. Even though I didn’t really understand death at that point in time but later, when I did find out the causes and circumstanced that led to her death I was truly bereaved. But what was so special about her was the glowing tributes she received at her death and the amount of respect and love that she continues to enjoy. When we see around to find so many memorials built in her memory, so much written about her and so many people across the globe to admire her we can’t help but say what her brother said in a speech at her funeral:

“She proved…she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”


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