Unbelievably, it’s 20 years since Princess Diana’s death. I’m no royalist, but I did happen to bump into Diana in Hyde Park in 1995. I was aged just 25, a little bit stoned, and my friend Jon and I were cycling around the park. The VE celebration event stage was going up, it was a beautiful warm clear and sunny September day.
She’d made quite the impression on me as a young openly gay teenager when she visited the HIV respite clinic, and touched hands with these poor men ravaged by AIDS. I always loved her for that, at a time when most people were scared that you could catch it from a toilet seat. She knew exactly what she was doing, she shone a major light, and helped to reduce (even if only slightly) the massive stigma suffered by those afflicted. She deserves much thanks for that.
As we cycled up a path, Jon was a bit behind, I saw a lady, wearing a baseball cap and tracksuit walking towards me with a big guy in a suit and pink tie. I said hello as she was on this small path coming directly towards me and looking at me, and as I said it I remember thinking ‘oh fuck it’s Princess Di!’. She dipped her head and looked at me from beneath her brow, and with a shy Di look said musically….’hel-llooo’. We stopped a moment and exchanged a few pleasantries, and what struck me most of all was just how huge and strikingly blue her eyes were.
I moved on a wee bit dazed at having a chat with the most famous woman on the planet….then Jon comes cycling up exclaiming… ‘you b***ard you were talking with Princess Di!!’. I remember finding a phone box became a priority such was the excitement, just before the mobile phone revolution, popping a few 10ps in the slot and calling Mum and Dad…. ”GUESS WHAT!!!!! ”.
Just a human being, but at an impressionable 25 years of age it was pretty damn exciting.
I wonder if she would look like this if she was still alive today?