All sorts of people in suits wandered in and out of the classroom while I sat colouring in my flower. The room kept flashing as the photographers took random snaps. A lady walked in, she had a lot of suited men behind her and stood chatting with my headmaster. She looked at me and I smiled at her, she walked over and sat on the empty chair beside me, her legs were too long to fit under the little table so she turned her chair towards me.
“Hello, whats your name?”,
“I’m Zohra” I said as I continued colouring in.
“Are you going to be doing anything in todays assembly?” I dropped my pencil and looked up beaming
“I’m going to be doing the main speech for Princess Diana”,
I remember my exact tone of voice, I was like a boasting little brat. I was so proud that of all the children in my school I was chosen to do her speech. She smiled at me encouragingly,
“what are you going to say?”
“Your Royal Highness, please may I ask you to open Broadwater Schools Early Years Unit, Thank You… and then I have to curtsey”
I wasn’t very happy about the curtsey…its a complicated manouevre when your five and it just felt weird.
“Wow, well I have a secret to tell you…I am Princess Diana”
I looked at her for a few seconds then screwed up my nose while smiling at her almost questioningly,
“No your not!”,
“I am” she giggled.
I studied her lilac suit, The jacket had gold buttons and the pencil skirt had a small slit at the back “But you don’t have a pretty princess dress or a crown!”
She laughed, she had this very gentle manner and she leaned towards me, I remember she had really blue twinkly eyes,
“lets make a bet Zohra, If you do your speech and it is me standing at the front, you have to come and help me do the opening!”
I studied her from head to toe, she smiled at me the whole time intrigued by how I was analyzing her, I know really she probably wanted to laugh at me but I was convinced she was not a princess.
“Ok” I agreed to her bet.
As we lined up to go into assembly my heart was racing, there were so many people and the side of the hall was just rows of photographers. As we walked out I was blinded by the flashes, I took my position on the podium. I began looking around nervously through the herds of people for my mum. I spotted her and waved, my headmaster, Mr Shepheard smiled at me and nodded as if to wish me luck. Then he began speaking for the assembly and I spotted the woman in lilac sitting in the front row, I was looking around for the princess but I figured she would enter in her horse and carriage when it was time.
All the performances began, songs and dances and poems and then the headmaster invited her Royal Highness onto the stage. My jaw dropped, the lady in lilac stood up and smiled at me through the crowds of people, I was at the very back of the hall on a podium and she was at the front. Her invitation on stage was my cue to say my speech. I had been practicing for weeks, I was supposed to look at her and project and articulate but I was so embarassed I looked down for most of it and then I looked up at her at the end and curtseyed. She gestured for me to come forward and everybody in the hall turned around to look at who she was calling. I kept nodding NO NO NO I was moving my head left and right and I did not want to go. All the cameras were pointing at me and I remember not only being embarassed but I thought I was in a lot of trouble because I told the princess she didnt have princess clothes! Also I told her my whole speech and I don’t think she was supposed to hear it until the assembly.
She began walking towards me with her hand out and a teacher standing next to me extended her hand to help me off the podium “go on Zohra, shes calling you”. It was the longest walk of my life, I had to walk right by the photographers and I was really scared but she was standing there smiling at me. As I reached her she saw how scared I was and bent down and carried me in her arms, she gave me a little squeeze,
“dont worry darling” she whispered in my ear “your gonna help me do the opening I can’t do it by myself”.
I smiled at her and realised she wasn’t going to tell anyone, She carried me to the curtained plaque and told me to hold the drawstring with her, I put my hand under hers and she pulled to unveil the Early Years Unit plaque. I still felt really shy, I was biting my lip in all the pictures and when I say all the pictures…there were a lot. I was on the front page of every british newspaper, plus all the news channels were showing the story of “The 5 year Old Star Who Befriended Princess Diana”. Nobody knew why she called me forward, nobody knew about the bet or what I had said and I was too scared to tell anyone so I just let people think she just took a natural shining to me haha. She wrote a letter to my school a few days later, I was called into the headmasters office and I was panicking! He read it to me, she had enjoyed her visit and particularly enjoyed meeting me. I realised she was my friend despite what I said to her so that day I went home and told my mum what I had done, she laughed. My mum invited her home for tea (I’m NOT joking) she said she would love to but she was leaving for Zambia, the news backed her up, we saw her in Zambia a few days later lol.
I was 5 years old but I remember every detail of that day, I remember her expressions, her voice, the pride, the fear and the embarassment haha. I remember this boy was supposed to give her flowers but because everyone thought she really liked me they took them away from him and made me give them to her and he was crying and I felt really bad. So the truth is out, she liked me because I was a blunt little brat haha. I googled the picture of me but it has a watermark lol (I have got some filed away in London).