Our Princess. 31st August 1997.
I wrote it in Kuwait on the last day of a month-long assignment with the DDB Kuwait advertising agency, working on the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation account. Being so far away from home, woken early in the morning with the tragic news, made it all the more poignant. Later that day I flew back to the UK, in itself an extraordinary experience, the whole plane in mourning. The British stiff upper lip forgotten, so many people openly weeping.
Extraordinary events leave extraordinary memories.
At 7.00am this morning, having talked late into the night with the CEO of DDB Kuwait, I awoke in his house to the news of Princess Diana’s death, probably well before most people in the UK had heard. I remember the moment when I awoke to my alarm radio telling me John Lennon was shot and, when at the age of seven I walked across the road from school and saw a picture of the dead Bobby Kennedy sprawled across the floor, filling the front page of the evening paper. Now, today, the day I am to leave Kuwait, a day which seemed so significant already, has become a momentous day.
Overwhelmingly though, what matters is two boys, just a little older than my own, whose lives are shattered, who must feel so lonely, hurt and desperate at the moment. They need to deal with what none of us can deal with but also with the nation, with destiny, with the world grieving, angry, outraged. I cry for them.
The fairy tale is over and happily ever after was not to be. But our Princess can now achieve more than ever before. She has the ultimate victory over her detractors. She is triumphant.
Perhaps, more so because I am here, so far away, I feel this deeply. The mullah cries out as I write. I feel I hear him cry in mourning. I know that my country will be shattered. Things have changed. It will be so strange to fly back in tomorrow morning. I cannot imagine, cannot conceive the feeling that must be there. Talal tells me how he felt the day Kuwait was invaded. Now I understand.
Cry with me for the boys. Their mother is now, perhaps always was, an angel.