Silent, Awkward—and Reeking of Royalty
By Earl Adams
A decade ago, when Princess Diana was still alive and in the midst of her ignoble divorce proceedings, I happened to find myself in the lobby of the Victoria Albert Museum, London, nursing a crushing hangover. My goal was to find the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright Rooms improbably disassembled and transported there, pine panel and all, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
A frowsy desk attendant was guiding me through a large incomprehensible map when she suddenly gasped, paled considerably, and drooped into a messy curtsey. At my side, looming large, was Diana: tall, beautiful and heavily made up. She had skinny long feet and big equestrian hands. The Princess leaned in and asked the attendant for a Mr. So-and-So who was to give her a tour “of the rooms where the benefit will be.” Mr. So-and-So was dutifully summoned and there, waiting his arrival, the three of us stood, silent, awkward and, in my case, reeking of gin.
I was convinced at the time (and how right I was), that the Princess should, like all good troubled regal personages, move to Manhattan where the living would be easy and the press relatively unobtrusive. Cursing my stutter-inducing hangover, I saw my opportunity here was fleeting as a mole-like nervous wreck of a museum attendee was rapidly hotfooting it in our direction. I turned and blurted, “Look, you really should move to New York. It would be so much easier for you there…” Before I could continue to make my case, the Princess was drawn away but she did turn back to acknowledge me as she went off. We locked eyes. She cocked her head to one side and gave me that, “I love you, get away from me” smile.
The smile we recall so fondly.