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Royal wedding brings back memories of Princess Diana

By Bonnie Fuller, Special to CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bonnie Fuller: The media and the public went hog wild over the Diana and Charles nuptials
  • She says that after the wedding, she she got to meet Diana twice
  • Diana was stunning, and you could see her toned arms in a sleek navy gown, Fuller says
  • She says if Diana were here Friday, she'd be beaming to the Westminster Abbey rafters
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Bonnie Fuller is the president and editor-in-chief of HollywoodLife.com and HollyBaby.com. She was formerly the chief editorial director of American Media Inc. and the editor-in-chief of Us Weekly, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and YM magazines.

(CNN) -- I'll never forget watching Lady Diana Spencer tie the knot with Charles, the Prince of Wales, on July 29, 1981. Like most women in the Western world, I'd been obsessed with "The Royal Engagement" since the shocking announcement that Charles was finally giving up his single status at the fairly old age of 32, to marry the adorable 20-year-old Diana.

I was as naïve as the poor unsuspecting Diana and had no idea that this wasn't a real fairy tale romance. I breathlessly read the stories about how the pair had met through her older sister, Sarah Spencer, whom Charles had once dated! And I closely followed the endless speculation about who would design Diana's dress.

If you think that the media and the public have gone hog wild over Prince Williams' wedding to Kate Middleton, you'd be surprised by how we were whipped into even more of a royal frenzy by the Diana and Charles nuptials.

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After all, William and Kate have dated for eight years, whereas Charles was linked to a series of blue-blooded types and then, suddenly, was marrying an adorable kindergarten teacher who had also worked as a nanny. Diana may have been the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, but she was also the first relatable royal.

Diana was just like us! She was shy and pretty but not beautiful, and she was caught by photographers wearing a skirt that turned sheer in the sunlight. She'd suffered a wardrobe malfunction that we could all sympathize with. So of course, I had to be one of the 750 million people out of bed on the big wedding day, watching the royal procession to St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

In fact, my husband and I honored the occasion by gathering for a 6 a.m. tea party around my friend Barb's TV, along with several other of our friends. While we watched Diana ride in a beautiful traditional carriage to St. Paul's, we munched on scones and clotted cream, and drank endless cups of tea. The guys all wore bow ties and top hats. My girlfriends and I turned out in old prom dresses and white gloves. Hey, we wanted to get fully into the wedding spirit.

When Diana stepped out of her carriage, our mouths dropped at the sight of her stunning ivory silk taffeta and lace dress designed by the husband-and-wife design team, David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

The unusual design of Diana's dress, with its ruffled v-neck neckline, stunned us. It was unlike anything we'd ever seen --extravagant but but modest, with its big puffed sleeves and full skirt. And as romantic as it was, Diana herself with her adorable shaggy haircut looked perfectly modern.

No one expected a bride to be sexy in those days, like many brides today -- especially celebrity brides. I hope Kate Middleton resists the temptation to go sexy or body conscious when she weds William. Hopefully, the reason she is dieting down to next-to-nothing now isn't because her gown is form-fitting.

When I watched Diana wed Charles, I never imagined that I would get to meet her twice, in the coming years.

The first occasion was when Diana hosted a party honoring English designers at London Fashion Week in Flare, 1987. At the time, I was editor-in-chief of Flare, Canada's fashion magazine. Diana greeted all of us in a reception line, with 5-year-old Prince William by her side.

Little William looked thrilled to be standing next to his beautiful mommy in formal shorts and a white shirt, shaking everyone's hand.

When it was my turn to take Diana's hand, I complimented her on what a wonderful job she was doing as Princess of Wales, and she smiled, looked directly into my eyes and murmured that her husband was a wonderful teacher. She seemed completely genuine and still very much in love with Charles. She was also charismatic and even more stunning up close, in person, than in pictures.

She made me feel like she was thrilled to meet me.

She had the same effect when I met her again at the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards in January 1995, in New York City. Diana had come to present her good friend Liz Tilberis, then editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar magazine, with an award for editorial achievement.

Diana was stunning, and you could see her toned arms in a sleek navy gown. When we were introduced, she seemed completely engrossed when we chatted for a few minutes about how competitive the fashion magazine world was. I was the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire then, and Diana had the same effect on me as she had the first time we met -- she was far more beautiful in person than in photos. Everything about her -- from her skin and her eyes to her handshake and conversation -- emanated warmth.

With a mother like that, it's no wonder William wanted to marry Kate, a woman he knows through and through, and with whom he has an obviously warm and loving relationship. Having met Diana, I have no doubt she would have made Kate, her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, feel like her BFF from the moment William brought her home.

If Diana were here Friday, she'd be beaming to the Westminster Abbey rafters. There's no doubt in my mind that she's beaming in heaven!

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