January 31, 2012

{The Woman I Love}

[Did you see the new film W.E.? Co-written and directed by Madonna (and not critically well-received, but the costumes were great), it is her story of the love affair of Wallis Simpson & Edward, Prince of Wales and future king.  Here is an excerpt from chapter five of my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, that shares a connection with King Edward VIII and Princess Diana.]

The timing of Diana and Charles union was caught in the historical crossfire of a major shift in royal culture (that Diana helped to put into warp speed.) These last stages of the era where decisions were made for dynastic duty only were now shifting into a more modern world where royals, less isolated from the masses, desired to marry for love and supportive companionship. (Can you imagine Prince William or Prince Harry marrying for dynastic duty only? Or for that matter, can you imagine your children marrying someone that you selected for them based on background, connections, and reproductive capabilities? How quickly the world changes thanks to trailblazers like the young princes’ mom.)

But the timing had not shifted enough for their father in the 1970s and 80s to act out of his true feelings of love and relationship compatibility, as well as giving a nod to choosing someone suitable for the unique, demanding role of royal duty. One factor that influenced Charles’ marital choices was his family’s recent history.
The actions of another great-uncle, King Edward VIII, who, with some political pressures, gave up the throne “for the woman I love” in 1936 were perhaps a little too close in historical proximity for Charles to have made a similar decision about marrying for love. (Of course, to make matters worse, Wallis Simpson—Edward’s beloved and his regular companion—was not only twice divorced, but an American to boot!) The earthshaking decision of King Edward to abdicate was considered distasteful by Charles’ duty bound mother who had trained him to do the “right dutiful thing no matter your feelings.” (It was Edward’s resignation, ironically, that put Elizabeth and her lineage in their more direct path to the throne.) Nonetheless, years later a change in the times was on Charles’ side; changes greatly influenced by his late wife.
In 2005, 24 years after his marriage of “duty,” Charles did not have to give up the throne (although there were restrictive provisions), and he indeed married the woman who had been his longtime friend and confidante—the woman he had long loved—Camilla Shand Parker Bowles; now Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. (And it appears that the prince and duchess simply fit so well together like those “meant-to-be” couples do!) “What your heart thinks is great, is great,” nineteenth century American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said. “The soul’s emphasis is always right.”

As an interesting point, there were many conspiratorial theories about King Edward being maneuvered from the throne in 1936 which reveal a metaphysical connection about his abdication with Princess Diana. “In the abdication crisis of Edward VIII,” Ian Alister asserts in his essay “Your Cheating Heart” for the book, When a Princess Dies, “there was a conflict between the steady, reliable—what I call ‘thinking’—qualities required by the collective institution of monarchy and the more unpredictable personal qualities—which I characterize as ‘feeling qualities’—represented by the individual. Edward favoured feeling (Wallis Simpson) ahead of thought (his kingly duty).
I suggest that Diana re-awoke this conflict in the House of Windsor.” Indeed, Diana awoke a ‘relationship of the heart’ revolution in the House of Windsor! A revolution not without pain (it caused much heartache for members of the royal family, including Charles and Diana’s young sons) as well as irony (it made it possible for Diana’s ex-husband to marry his beloved). Nonetheless, it was a revolution that changed the nature, if not the direct course of history. ~

[Stay tuned for news of the publication of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride.]

January 10, 2012

{Brought Up to Touch People}

[The Duchess of Cambridge recently announced her choices for the charities for which she will become a patron (Action on Addiction, East Anglia Children's Hospices, The Art Room, and the National Portrait Gallery) in addition to becoming a volunteer helper to the local Girl Scout troop in Wales. All work that continues the community outreach of the royals and which Kate's late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, became famous. In that spirit, I share this short excerpt from my upcoming book from a chapter I'm rewriting now.]

Below is an excerpt from Chapter Three ("Longing To Be Loved") of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride:

Diana’s sensitive nature was part of her astrological makeup since her sun sign was Cancer, the sign of the nurturer. Did Diana’s sense of compassion—captured so poignantly while she was in the public eye as Her Royal Highness—grow stronger out of her sense of emotional lack in her childhood? Was it a way to help compensate for that deep longing? That “inner missing” may have been part of the impetus for her compassionate nature, but family accounts in Rosalind Coward’s Diana: The Portrait, published in 2007 to honor the tenth anniversary of Diana’s death, say that her caring nature was a natural inheritance. Not only seen by her family as a duty of the privileged, but intentionally taught to her by her mother and through her father’s example, Diana developed an innate nature of being helpful to others all through her life. What the world saw in her compassionate acts of kindness as a beautiful princess came naturally.

“‘Diana was brought up to touch people, which she did,’” her mother Frances Shand Kydd shared in Coward’s book, “‘...and also she used her eyes to look at people directly. She was really interested in people.’” Her compassion, caring and tender mothering were natural, yes; but it came from a complex mind and a big yearning heart with a hole to fill.

Part of the irony is that the life of the woman “brought up to touch people” became a lifelong quest to be touched! Touched in such a way that it would squelch her sense of deep neediness and desire to be loved, hugged and comforted. When a child as sensitive and kinesthetic as Diana is denied physical affection and touch—or at least her sense of her past was that she didn’t get the affection she really needed in the aftermath of her mother’s absence—it is no accident that the “touchstone” of her life (no pun intended) becomes about loving touch. In fact, her way of touching—compassionately ungloved, bare-handed even to the “untouchable”—became a touchstone, a bold criterion for a new world vision.

From my view of Diana’s life, it seems she took that child’s longing for deep affection and attention into her adult life and attempted to fill it from the outside, sometimes with the illusion of love and intimacy—fairy-tale symbols of love that may excite for a moment, but don’t feed the soul. Through touch, however, Diana found the essence of herself and began nurturing her spirit again. ~

[Stay tuned for news of a Spring-Summer 2012 book release!]