When Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997 I was a young girl. I recall the shock and sadness of the adults around me, and the bewilderment I felt because I had no idea who she was. They grieved in the way that you do when a famous person dies - the sort of person you know you'd never meet in a million years, yet the kind whose philanthropic deeds or boundless talent touch you nonetheless.
Years later I stood to one side of the Alma tunnel in Paris, France, the site of Diana's tragic end, and was touched to read some of the sympathy messages people from all over the world had scrawled onto the wall. Even in death, Diana continues to claim major newspaper space and speculation, most recently being when William proposed to Kate with his late mother's ring so she could be part of their special day. The jury is still out on whether the gesture is cute, or just plain spooky.
There has always been an avid fascination with the British royal family, but in recent years, it is the young royals - William, Harry, Beatrice and Eugenie - who have particularly endeared themselves to the public. Who doesn't love Prince Harry's unruly mop of red hair above mischievous eyes and a laughing mouth? Or tabloid photos of a bleary-eyed William after a night of partying at Boujis or Mahiki? If the media storm and public scrutiny surrounding the royal family was intense before, the months since William and Kate's engagement will have ushered in a frenzied obsession altogether!
April. Finally the month of the wedding of weddings is here. The royal wedding day, April 29, has sparked incensed talks amongst the nation's economists (an estimated £5bn will be lost due to the day being declared a bank holiday); various merchandising of Kate and Wills wedding memento (tea towels, mugs, keyrings..); and anger that London is going to look like something out of a nightmare for those that just want to enjoy their day without being frustrated by planned road closures and swarms of tourists and well-wishers who will undoubtedly clog the streets of Central London over that weekend. No doubt everyone has got some bee buzzing in their bonnet about that day..
And then there's Kate, the beautiful commoner and darling of the British press who first caught the eye of her husband-to-be at a catwalk show whilst they were both at the University of St Andrews. Remarkably, we have not one, but two royal weddings this year, in what is almost a fairytale commoner-to-royalty pairing. The other bride-to-be is Zara Phillips, the Queen's granddaughter,12th in line to the throne, who is engaged to her rugby player boo, Mark Tindall.
But as William and Kate's day draws near, with Mark and Zara's soon following, and the excitement reaches fever pitch, I wonder who the next 'People's Princess' will be. Will it be Kate, the elegant commoner with impeccable style, or Zara, the accomplished blue-blooded equestrian who regularly gets down and dirty in the stables? Who will wear the crown? It could get royally interesting...!