Twenty years ago this month, I met Princess Diana–not morethan a few weeks before she died.

I didn’t realize that I was going to meet her until I wasstanding before her. Here’s what happened:

I was good friends with a woman who was also my seamstress. Shewanted to become a superstar designer. In addition to the scarf she was workingon for me me, she was making a dress to send Princess Diana as a gift.

In the meantime, she had tickets to see Diana’s dresses ondisplay at Christie’s in New York, and asked if I wanted to come with.

The front entrance was jammed when we arrived that evening. Along line went down the hallway.

I’m not even going to try to fight that, I thought. If I wenttoward the back, I figured, I’d be able to find a nibble and refresh mylipstick, and wait until the queue subsided.

I found a back room that was mostly empty. Then, right in frontof me, the wall opened up. It felt like a storybook or a game of Clue.

And through this secret passage walks none other than thePrincess herself.

I was startled, to say the least. And had nothing prepared tosay. I had a copy of Diana’s book in my hands, so I asked, “Hi, would youplease sign my book?”

Diana looked at me, smiled, and said, “Okay.”

We stood close enough that I could see that I was slightlytaller than her. People came up, asking permission to take photographs.

They started posing us, and took a few photos, like this one:

It was over quickly. “You’re so lucky,” somebody in the roomtold me. “She never takes pictures with people. And she signed your book!”

My friend, who had brought me in the first place, felt crushedthat she didn’t have the same chance.

At the end of the night, when the Princess was about to leave,once again, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I stood inthe spot where she headed for her exit.

“Princess,” I said.

She looked me in the eye. “Who are you? You keep appearing,” she said.

“My friend made you a dress. She was really hoping to meetyou.”

“Take me to your friend,” she said. “I’d love to meet her.”

My friend now also had her photo taken with the Princess.

And then, Diana was gone.

This happened in June 1997. Two months later, in August, I wason vacation in northern California when I heard the news that she had passedaway. Like so many who admired her, I was overwhelmed, but all the more so forhaving met her and experienced her graciousness firsthand.

As this summer marks the anniversary of her death, you’lllikely be hearing reflections on Diana’s life in the weeks to come. Thanks forletting me share this small story of her everyday graciousness with you.