The Princess may be Lady Di, but who’s the President?

princess diana


When I was maybe 5 years old, my mother woke my sister and I up very early in – if I remember correctly – a house we were renting one summer in Marblehead, Massachusetts that was across the street from her childhood friend’s family (which included two daughters for us to play with). We were woken up early to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana – and so began my fascination with love, romance and fairytale endings. (Or maybe just my continued fascination as I already fawned over Disney princesses and Barbies by then).

Of course, as I grew older I followed the ups and downs of Diana and Charles’ marriage from the outside, like everyone else. As a child and then a teenager, I tried to make sense of the story of that marriage that I had held such a fairytale vision of as a child, the way many people perhaps idealize their own relationships in the beginning or in certain magical re-awakened periods of closeness, love and desire.

And then I watched theirs unravel and, in a society that had become more open to discussing divorce, affairs and unmet needs, I paid attention to some of Diana’s post-divorce interviews and her life following that stormy period.

Then the other night, I read an Associated Press report about former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s new book – “The Princess and The President” – a love story that centers around an affair between a married princess and a president of another country. He’s said that the princess is based on Lady Diana – with whom he was close and to whom he supposedly promised to write this book – but so far mum’s the word on who the president’s character is based on. Himself? Someone else?

Does it even matter though? Affairs, secret passions – their hidden nature makes them simultaneously everywhere and yet nowhere. And they come and go. But I get the fascination about someone so public even after they are long gone: some will be interested in the story because they were interested in Diana and whatever glimpses of sense they may be able to make of things. Others may be interested in the story because, whether it’s true or not, they may be looking to make sense of something in their own life: a secret love, a failed marriage, a husband with a mistress, an unmet need, a longing, or what have you. You can read more about the book and the drama and speculation behind the story in the below-linked AP report.

[Associated Press]

Above image, which I have long loved, is via MSU.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at