I had the exciting opportunity to attend a literary festival for the very first time, where almost 30 authors had gathered to share their insights and perspectives on the books they had written. What made this festival extra special was the locale--the Althorp Family Estate, home of Earl Spencer, known around the world as the brother of Princess Diana.
Located in Northamptonshire, England, the ancestral estate to the Spencer family since 1508
is now the home of Earl and Countess Spencer and six children.
The stable block is strikingly different in sandstone, Italian in flavor,
and looks over some of the 14,000 acres that make up the country estate.
Within the estate are farms, woodlands, cottages, and villages.
Once inside, our group was invited to have tea in the Picture Gallery
where Lord Spencer greeted us graciously. Educated in Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, he was working as a correspondent for NBC news in America when his father died, and he was called back to England
to become the ninth earl and head of the family. He was very outgoing, kind and well-spoken, and when he discussed his latest book, we were charmed by his stories.
Although we were not allowed to tour the entire house with its impressive collection of art, paintings, furniture and china, we did get to see the grand Saloon,
as well as the State Dining Room, modeled after the dining room in Buckingham Palace,
and the beautiful staircase graced by Diana's and Charles's portraits.
Diana's presence is felt throughout the home where she grew up,
and she is buried on the grounds of the Althorp Park.
Her body rests today on an island in the middle of a lake called Round Oval where stands a single urn. No visitors are allowed on the island,
but we could pay our respects to her at the shrine just beside the lake,
where her silhouette is a poignant reminder of what a unique and beautiful woman she was.
Her very words remain as a testimony to her generous spirit, which is being carried out today by her two sons, Princes William and Harry.
Just as touching are the words of her brother, Earl Spencer, which were spoken at her funeral in September of 1997.
Her beauty will never be extinguished from our minds.