Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Diana Exhibit

Photo of Diana, from the exhibit, photo use authorized by the Spencer Estate

Greetings All:

Before I get into the topic at hand, a quick house-keeping matter.  On my last post, "The Medal Stand," I outlined three goals I had for last weekend. I plan on writing on that in more detail this weekend.  It was an interesting experiment and one I think I need to run a couple more times.  Stay tuned...

Now, about this post.  On Saturday my family and I attended the Putnam Museum to see the traveling exhibit of Princess Diana's life and times, "Diana- A Celebration."  Now before someone files a writ of execution on my Man Card (I did miss the Iowa-Northwestern basketball game), allow me a moment to explain why this was time well spent.

Full disclosure, I am not a fan of royalty.  Being half-Irish, I still take offense at what the Brits did for centuries in Ireland.  Still, Diana is a historic figure.  She was a fashion icon and in significant ways raised awareness for causes that mattered to her.  She was a leading figure in opposing land mines.  I knew that.  What I did not know was that she worked to raise awareness about leprosy.   That, I did not know.  She made headlines when she touched an AIDS patient.  She also made headlines just about anywhere she went.

The exhibit features prominently her wedding dress and it is some dress.  The train was way long and it was befitting, well, a princess.  There is a great photo of her looking back, her face partially hidden by her veil, as one of her attendants holds the train.  I do not recall much of the wedding but it is fair to say it was a big deal.  Unfortunately, so was her divorce.

The exhibit elected not to focus on this...detail.  However, it was well (and sensationally) documented by the press.  I lived in London for 4 months in 1993 and recall how good the Brits are at writing headlines.  Diana quipped in an interview about there, "...were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."  She knew how to handle herself despite the merciless hounding by photographers.  They loved to pursue her.  Many others just loved her.  I was surprised to see the part of the exhibit that showed the condolence books that were filled out from around the world on her death.  The photo below is a small sampling of the thousands upon thousands of people who paid their respects to her upon her death.

Just a small sampling of the condolence books from around the world at the time of Diana's death.  Photo used with permission of the Spencer estate.

There are those who will say, and rightly so, her celebrity was not from anything she created.  She did not record an album, make a movie, write a book, win an election or an Olympic medal.  She married into it.  Fair enough.  However, look at what she did from that point forward.  She elected not to stay in that "crowded" marriage.  She did not engage in some purely narcissistic post-Charles life.  Her charity work matters.  She used her fame to speak for those for whom there were no bright lights.  She did not engage in some false display of hating dressing up, she freely admitted her love of clothes.  Yet while dazzling on the red carpet, she was promoting causes that mattered.

The exhibit reminded me that she was a person, just like us.  She had two sons she dearly loved and fiercely protected.  I for one think William had grown into a fine young man and Harry will get there soon enough.  For all "Vegas antics" he's also a Soldier, like his brother.  These guys get duty.  Just like their mom.

The exhibit ends, as one might expect, with her funeral.  It is tastefully done.  Elton John's Goodbye England's Rose plays and there are photos of the famous and average who paid their heartfelt respects.  For me, the most interesting part of the exhibit was the eulogy that her brother gave at the funeral.  It shows the depth of pride and grief the family had for her.
Part of the eulogy read at Diana's funeral.  Photo used with permission of the Spencer Estate.

I am glad I saw it.  I learned some things about Diana and was reminded of things I forgot.  Many call her an icon.  The definition of an icon from The Free Dictionary is the following:  "One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol."  (  I think it is fair to say that definition meets Diana, the Princess of Wales, the "People's Princess" as Tony Blair referred to her.  Unlike our current (ahem) celebrities, Diana wore the crown of popularity with grace and restraint.  The world was a better place for her being here.  She will be missed.

Here's a link to an article about the exhibit:

Be well my friends,

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