PRINCESS DIANA’S MANHATTAN PASSION

As the world prepares to celebrate the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, one person’s spirit and memory will loom large over the mega event: Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. We’re bringing the royal wedding home to New York City and tonight we look at the mother of the groom and her love affair with the island of Manhattan.

Aired on May 18, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THERE IS NO WEDDING LIKE A ROYAL WEDDING.

AND PBS IS THE PLACE TO SEE IT.

JOIN THE ROYAL WEDDING WIND CHILL, A WEEK OF SPECIAL PROGRAMMING LEADING UP TO THE CEREMONY WITH HOST MEREDITH VEERA REPORTING FROM LONDON.

THEN YOU ARE COVERAGELY INVITED TO WINDSOR CASTLE FOR THE ROYAL WEDDING OF PRINCE HARRY AND AMERICAN MEGHAN MARKLE.

DON'T MISS THE WEDDING WATCH.

> AS THE WORLD WAITS TO WATCH PRINCE HARRY MARRY MEGHAN MARKLE TOMORROW THE ONE PERSON NOT IN ATTENDANCE BUT CERTAINLY ON EVERYONE'S MIND PRINCESS DIANA HARRY'S HOME AND KNOWN AS THE PEOPLE'S PRINCESS.

BUT WHAT GETS LOST IN THE MEDIA IS THAT THE PEOPLE'S PRINCESS FOUND ESCAPE HERE IN MANHATTAN.

SHE HELD SECRET MEETINGS AT THE CARLISLE HOTEL DINED LIVED AND LAUGHED ALL OVER THE CITY.

SHE WAS INFATUATED WITH NEW YORK AND WE WERE INFATUATED WITH HER.

JOINING US TO TAKE TO PRINCESS DIANA NEW YORK WHAT SHE LOVED SO MUCH ABOUT OUR CITY IS ROYAL EXPERT CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN AUTHOR OF THE DAY DIANA DIED.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THE FIRST QUESTION FOR YOU IS THIS, WHAT WAS IT GENERALLY ABOUT NEW YORK CITY THAT ATTRACTED DIANA TO HERE?

WELL TWO THINGS.

FIRST OF ALL SHE LOVED AMERICA IN GENERAL.

SHE FELT MORE -- SHE HAD MORE IN COMMON IN MANY WAYS WITH AMERICA.

MORE OUTGOING AND OUTSPOKEN.

SHE FELT LIKE MANY CELEBRITIES ODDLY-FREE IN THE STREETS OF NEW YORK.

I THINK NEW YORK WAS ONE PLACE WHERE MANY MANY VERY FAMOUS FEEL THEY CAN MOVE ABOUT WITH EASE AND RATHER UNENCUMBERED FRANKLY COMPARED TO OTHER PLACES IN THE WORLD.

CERTAINLY LONDON WHERE THE PAPARAZZI WERE AT HER CONSTANTLY CHASING HER DOWN THE STRETS.

SHE HAD NO PRIVATE LIFE AT ALL.

BUT HERE SHE WAS ABLE TO MOVE ABOUT WITH SOME DEGREE OF FREEDOM.

WAS SHE ABLE TO DO THAT, GO TO RESTAURANTS, THEATER, ENGAGE IN THINGS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR HER TO DO IN LONDON?

WELL, IT DID GET TRICKY OCCASIONALLY ESPECIALLY IF SHE WAS WITH ANOTHER FAMOUS PERSON.

FOR EXAMPLE WHEN SHE MET JOHN F KENNEDY JR. AT THE CARLISLE HOTEL -- AGAIN THAT WAS A HANGOUT FOR THE KENNEDYS AND SHE KNEW IT.

IN THE SUMMER OF 1995 THEY KNEW -- JFK JR. KNEW THAT THE COMBINATION OF THE TWO OF THEM WOULD MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO GET TOGETHER.

ONE THING HE ALSO KNEW BEING A KENNEDY IS THAT THE MADISON AVENUE ENTRANCE TO THE CARLISLE IS ONE THAT IS SELDOM COVERED BY THE PAPARAZZI.

THEY'RE ALWAYS WAITING ON EAST 76th STREET AROUND THE CORNER.

THEY COULD THEY COULD ACTUALLY IRONICALLY EACH OF THEM WALK FREELY INTO THE MAIN ENTRANCE ON MADISON AVENUE OF THE CARLISLE HOTEL AND HAVE THEIR MEETING WHICH THEY HAD A AS HAS BEEN MUCH DISCUSSED OVER THE YEARS.

DO WE KNOW WHETHER THERE WAS ANYTHING MORE THAN A FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN DINE ARE DIANA AND JFK JR.? DID IT EVER BLOSSOM INTO ROMANCE.

I BELIEVE IT DID.

IT WAS BRIEF.

HE TOLD HIS FRIENDS THAT HE WAS CHARMED BY HER.

HE TALKED ABOUT HER FAMOUS DOWNWARD GLANCE, THE SHY DILOOK.

HE SAID SHE WAS SURPRISINGLY DEMOORE.

THERE HAS BEEN SPANDEX BUT I BELIEVE THEY HAD A BRIEF ENCOUNTER.

SHE TOLD FRIENDS IN LONDON THAT SHE HAD A CRUSH ON JFK JR.

AND SHE ALSO FELT IN A BROADER SENSE SHE IDENTIFIED WITH THE KENNEDYS, IN THAT, YOU KNOW, SHE ASKED IF A FRIEND IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO ME DO YOU THINK THEY'LL THINK OF ME AS JACKIE KENNEDY.

AT THE TIME OF DIANA'S DEATH I WAS HOSTING THE NBC WEEKEND TODAY SHOW AND WE WERE ONE OF THE FIRST NEW YORKS TO ANNOUNCE HER DEATH.

WE WERE ON 7:00 A.M. IN THE MORPG SHE DIED A FEW LI HOURS BEFORE THAT.

I WAS STRUCK BY THE FACT THAT PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE STUDIO AND THE VIEWERS SEEMED TO HAVE THIS PROFOUND SENSE OF DESPAIR, PROFOUND SENSE OF LOSS, ALMOST WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT FROM SOMEBODY WHO LOST A LOVED ONE OR CLOSE FRIEND.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS THEN?

AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S CONTINUED TODAY 20 YEARS LATER.

WELL FOR 17 YEARS SHE WAS THE CENTER OF THE WORLD STAGE.

WE WATCHED HER, YOU KNOW, GROW FROM THIS 19-YEAR-OLD INNOCENT INTO A REAL POWERHOUSE.

SHE WAS MORE THAN JUST A LARGER LAN THAN LIFE FIGURE SHE WAS A FORCE OF NATURE IF YOU WILL.

WE FELT SHE WAS A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY IN THAT SENSE.

AND NO ONE WAS PREPARED FOR THE WAY IN WHICH SHE DIED, AND THE FACT THAT SHE LEFT BEHIND A 15-YEAR-OLD AND 13-YEAR-OLD, THE TWO MARVELLOUS SONS WE GREW TO KNOW AND STILL FEEL WE DO.

WE WERE ALL STUNNED.

STUNNED IN THE WAY THAT ONE GENERATION -- THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER WHERE THEY WERE WHEN THEY HEARD ABOUT PEARL HARBOR OR ANOTHER GENERATION HEARING ABOUT JFK'S ASSASSINATION OR 9/11.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS.

AND IT'S UNDEFINABLE BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE MANY -- IN TERMS OF HER PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS MAYBE SHE WASN'T THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED HUMAN BEING IN THE WORLD.

BUT SHE DID TOUCH SOMETHING I THINK IN TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.

YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER HER WEDDING WAS VIEWED BY 750 MILLION PEOPLE, THE ROYAL WEDDING YOU'D EXPECT THAT.

BUT THE FUNERAL WAS WITNESSED BY 2.5 BILLION PEOPLE ON TELEVISION.

ONE OF THE MOST WATCHED EVENTS IN THE WORLD.

I MEAN, THAT'S WHAT A HOLD SHE HAD ON THE IMAGINATION OF THIS PEOPLE ACROSS THE PLANET.

CHRISTOPHER ANDERSEN, YOUR BOOK, THE DAY DIANA DIED IS A MARVELLOUS LOOK AT THAT.

THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS WITH IT.

I APPRECIATE IT THANK YOU SO MUCH JACK.

YOU BE WELL.

> WE WISH THE BRIDE AND GROOM ALL THE BEST AND PAY HOMAGE TO THE MOTHER OF THE GROOM WHO WE ARE SURE IS SMILING DOWN FROM ABOVE.

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