There is no doubt that he loved her and she him.
For more than ten years, nearly everyday, he ran his fingertips through her hair…her being one of the most esteemed and beautiful women in the world, namely Princess Diana Duchess of Wales, he being her personal hairdresser Richard Dalton.
When he took on the position in 1981, his job was to accentuate her loveliness, which indeed, he did. Yet beyond the professional duties of his appointment, over time, Dalton shared with the Princess a series of unique experiences.
It is the recollection of these occurrences that Dalton most eloquently shares with an audience gathered at a special event aboard The Queen Mary in Long Beach. As part of the continuing exhibition of “Diana: Legacy of a Princess”, his input adds another dimension, providing personal insight that breathes new life into the multi-million dollar collection of Royal Family memorabilia.
Dalton reaffirms that Her Royal Highness was gracious, kind-hearted and funny. But as for scandalous secrets, he leaves those for the tabloids to tell.
Instead, he abides by what he refers to as the “unwritten rule (of professional hairdressers): You know all, but say nothing.”
Being a member of the Royal Family, Princess Diana’s every move was documented, so Dalton’s talent as a hairdresser can never be overlooked. What’s more, he takes pride in his efficiency, explaining that he could whip up a stately hairdo in a mere fifteen or twenty minutes. So it makes sense that the Princess would keep him around.
But one can’t help but wonder if Dalton’s own affability was another reason for his longevity and success.
As for the exhibit itself, it spans approximately 13,000 feet of the Queen Mary’s Sun Deck Gallery, and is comprised of three sections: The Royal Family, Princess Diana, and Diana’s Legacy.
Particularly popular in the Princess Diana section is the “Dress Room,” where there are nine outfits each with an accompanying photo showing the Princess wearing the attire and the history behind it.
In addition, there are numerous other exclusive pieces including handwritten letters, personal photos, wedding items and Royal Family mementos. Visitors can even step into a British phone booth and listen to recorded messages that Diana once left for her close friend Simone Simmons.
It has been more than fifteen years since Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Since that time, her devoted fans continue to keep her legacy alive. Memorabilia associated with her two sons Princes William and Henry is also included in the exhibit.
Now ages 30 and 28 respectively, Princes William and Henry (aka Prince Harry) are often in the media spotlight these days. Following Prince William’s recent marriage to Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge) and the announcement that they are expecting a child, the Royal Couple’s popularity has increasingly soared. (Two of Middleton’s dresses are also part of the exhibit: the racy, see-through runway dress she wore in 2002, and a reproduction of the dress she wore when her engagement to Prince William was publicly announced in 2010.)
This week, when the 12th season of American Idol continues being broadcast, take note that the Los Angeles auditions were held on The Queen Mary.
With royalty, romance, intrigue, and imaginings aboard the ship, The Queen Mary will assuredly remain an integral–and interesting–part of history.
(The Queen Mary is located at 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach 90802. For additional information call: (877) 342-0738.)
(Richard Dalton currently resides in Laguna Beach, California. He continues doing hair for fashion photography shoots, is a spokesperson for Samson Hair Restoration and is also the U.S. Ambassador for Philip Martin’s, a maker of organic hair care products.)