Don’t get me wrong. I adored Princess Di and the footage of her engagement made me feel all nostalgic. I remember being glued to the news on the day of their engagement, feasting on every detail of her and getting excited about a day off for the royal wedding. I had my own fringe cut in a Lady Di straight away (disastrous) and marvelled at her neck-tie blouse thing. But it was the ring I couldn’t get enough of.
It was the way she looked at it with wonder and delight in the way that a newly engaged girl should, tentatively touching the band of it with her thumb. It made being engaged to a real life Prince seem the most exciting thing in the world. And because she’d chosen her ring herself and it was a break from royal tradition, it was the first inkling we got that demure Diana was actually a style icon in the making. Thanks to her unique taste every, jeweller from Ratners up have been kept in business with copycat rings for a quarter of a century.
But most importantly, she emancipated us girls. She chose her ring. She didn’t have a stuffy old ring foisted on her by a bloke on one knee. She gave us all permission to choose and love a piece of jewellery we’d wear forever, ourselves.
But William didn’t give Kate the chance to be emancipated and choose her own ring and inspire a shake-up in our collective taste. She could have chosen anything. A modern British designer. Chunky silver with inlaid diamonds. Something a bit funky. We could have handled that. Something uniquely Kate we could have all happily copied.
But she didn’t get the chance.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m all for re-cycling in this day and age, but that doesn’t apply to the royal family in my book. We need to know that the Queen never wears the same thing twice. It’s just a fact. It makes us comfortable and keeps us in our place. They’re the royal family. The top of the food chain. We need them to flash their classy diamonds around and show us the way.
But the poor old Kate hasn’t got her own engagement ring to marvel over and fall in love with. She’s been given her dead mother-in-law’s ring. The most famous ring in the world.
I mean…the pressure!
What if she leaves it in the soap dish when she’s washing up? Or in the shower at the gym? What if it accidentally slips off when she’s boogie-boarding in Abersoch?
Will she ever really be able to leave the house again?
Poor Kate. We love her, right? She hasn’t put a foot wrong as far as I can see. She’s got lovely hair and a nice Mum and Dad and she’s got her head screwed on. She doesn’t look like she’ll be having a boob job, a facial peel or heading up Weight-Watchers any time soon.
So why burden her with that ring?
We’ve been getting on fine for the last few years with the royal family. So much so, that it’s possible for us all to finally get excited about a royal wedding. But it’s taken a while. It was a long process, but in the years since Diana’s death, we’ve slowly forgiven Charles and bought his sausages in Waitrose. We’ve just about accepted Camilla and let everyone get on with their lives and the Diana tragedy slide into history.
But now the ghost of Diana is back. With a vengeance. And with it all the history.
And the irony! Diana always complained that there were three people in her marriage. Hasn’t William, by giving Kate Diana’s ring, just done exactly the same thing? He even said as much. That it was his way of letting his mother share in their engagement.
Because all I can remember now when I look at Kate, is Diana.
The dashed hopes. That even on the day of his engagement, Charles couldn’t bring himself to admit he was in love with her. Because he loved Camilla.
I was genuinely heartbroken when Diana died. Because despite everything, she had been a lamb to the slaughter and Charles did win in the end. And she died having been a lonely Princess. I felt bereft and guilty as I laid flowers at Kensington Palace. I lived less than half a mile away. I could have been her pal. I think every girl in the country who had once sported a Diana fringe felt the same way.
So that’s why the ring is such a shocker.
I hope that Kate will get the chance to inspire a generation of women in her own way. And that she’s a real princess and not one from a fairy story who gets cursed by a ring. And hopefully we can rest assured that she won’t be wearing Diana’s old wedding dress on the day. Or will she?