Sitting alone outside the Taj Mahal, Princess Diana served up a picture-perfect image of the betrayed wife. Now Will and Kate are to visit, and lay a royal ghost to rest.
William and Kate are to face down one of Princess Diana’s most masterfully created images of isolation and grief and allow themselves to be photographed outside the Taj Mahal during a forthcoming trip to India, which was announced today.
The iconic significance of the Taj to the Good Princess Diana/Bad Prince Charles narrative is hard to overstate.
Sitting, alone and betrayed, on a marble bench in front of the world’s most famous monument to love, the photographs taken of a solo Princess Diana outside the Taj Mahal encapsulated for many the bitter betrayal of her husband Prince Charles.
She had previously spent 30 minutes walking around the tomb, and had asked her royal entourage to allow her time to be alone with her thoughts.
As she left the tomb she told reporters, “It was a fascinating experience, very healing.”
Asked to elaborate on what she meant by healing, she replied “Work it out for yourself.”
Diana carefully set up the picture, which spoke powerfully to her side of the story.
Charles was actually in India with his wife, during the February 1992 trip, but rather than visiting the monument in Agra, he was addressing a conference of businessmen 200 miles away in Delhi.
But Charles, flat-footed when it came to the media as always, did little to help himself, instead choosing to make still more enemies by insulting the press, and instead of expressing regret he could not be with his wife, he attempted to make light of the physical distance between him and Diana, saying, “A wiser prince than I would have opted for a visit to the Taj Mahal, which I believe is where some of the greatest pundits of the press think I should be.”
Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel, Chaz.
Two months later the extent of their mental and emotional distance was finally exposed when they publicly separated.
Now, bravely, William and Kate are to visit Agra, on 16 April, as part of a tour of India and Bhutan, and it is expected that they will visit the Taj Mahal and allow photographs to be taken of them sitting on ‘Lady Di’s Chair’ as tour guides and locals now refer to the bench.
Kate has previously proved she is unafraid of recreating iconic Diana images, by, for example, reusing her favorite jewelry.
In India, the palace said that the Duke and Duchess will see “a variety of aspects of contemporary Indian life, focusing on young people, sport, entrepreneurship, Indian efforts to relieve urban poverty, the creative arts, and rural life.”
In Bhutan, the palace says, “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very much looking forward to meeting Their Majesties The King and Queen of Bhutan, and continuing the relationship between their two families. They will also have the opportunity to learn more about the heritage and culture of this beautiful mountain kingdom and its people.”
“This tour, coming shortly before The Queen’s 90th birthday, will also allow The Duke and Duchess to pay tribute to Her Majesty’s huge contribution to diplomacy in Britain and the Commonwealth.”
Neither Will nor Kate have visited India before.