Diana superfan Jo Dobson’s memorabilia collection to go on display to mark anniversary of her death
Wednesday - 30/08/2017 12:21
FOR many, August 31 might pass by unnoticed — a standard Thursday before the excitement of the weekend.
Not so for Englishwoman Jo Dobson, a Princess Diana superfan who will mark the 20th anniversary of her death with a silk floral tribute and a visit to the local museum where her vast memorabilia collection will be on display.
Speaking from inside her Diana-filled home in suburban Gloucester, the self-described “fanatic” said she is feeling a “bit down” in the lead up to the anniversary that has sparked a slew of coverage of the People’s Princess.
It’s the third year the 78-year-old will face the ominous date without her late husband Ken — co-founder of the Diana Circle UK, who used to wish the Princess goodnight before going to bed.
“He loved Diana. There wasn’t a day go by he didn’t sit and talk about Diana,” she told news.com.au. “When he was dying he said, ‘I want to be with Diana’.”
“It still only seems like yesterday. It will never seem like 20 years … I’d say she brought the world to this country. She would be the best ambassador we’ve ever had.”
A glance around Mrs Dobson’s home reveals the true-extent of her passion for the People’s Princess with a collection that has snowballed from a single “sea of flowers” plate to a museum-style shrine to her life and times.
The walls feature Diana pictures, framed letters from Kensington Palace and signed cards from her former butler, Paul Burrell. Surfaces are covered with figurines, dolls and framed tributes, while Diana roses grow outside in the garden.
Mrs Dobson is wearing T-shirt featuring Diana’s face and her title as founder of the Diana Circle — one of 23 she had specially printed at a local shop. She wears a replica engagement ring, a locket containing her picture and has recently ordered a commemorative handbag featuring her name and a “candle in the wind” lucky charm.
“There comes a time when you have to stop,” she said. “You haven’t got the room.”
‘HE CRIED LIKE A BABY’
The Diana love affair began at first sight for Mrs Dobson and her husband of 59 years, however it wasn’t until two years after her death that she began collectings.
“We liked her from day one,” she said. “When she was killed, I was up at 5 o’clock and I put the telly on and when they said ‘Diana’s dead’ I felt like somebody had punched me. It was like losing a relative when that girl died. I ran into my husband and I was punching him: ‘Get up, get up, Diana’s dead.’
“He came out in his dressing gown. He cried like a baby … He kept saying, ‘I want to die, I want to be with Diana’.”
They founded the Circle to preserve her memory and have attracted members and media attention from around the world. It’s led to meetings with Burrell and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer, as well as free lifetime admission to Althorp Park, her family home where she is buried.
She’s even claimed a spiritual connection with the late Princess and now wants her July 1 birthday turned into a national holiday.
The love does not extend to Prince Charles and Camilla, who Mrs Dobson branded “disgusting” and blames for Diana’s descent into unhappiness.
“You know Diana was murdered,” she said darkly. “They planned that girl’s life out since day one. It was a marriage of convenience to get the heir to the throne. Lucky he got the heir and the spare. He never loved Diana. He stood there when they got engaged and he said to [the media] about love ‘whatever love is’ yet she loved him till the day she died. They used that girl and it was wrong.”
She’s so opposed to “Queen Camilla”, Mrs Dobson and her husband once donned their Diana T-shirts while she visited a local school, attracting the attention of local police.
“When she came along I said to my husband ‘oh I bet she stopped at Sue Ryder’s, that’s a charity shop, and bought that suit.’ She’s a disgrace to the monarchy, she is. I think she looks older and more ugly than the Queen Mother. I’ll say it and my husband was the same. We say what we think. If you don’t like it and we’ve offended you, sorry, we don’t lie, we come out and say what we think.”
William and Harry on the other hand, are “lovely” and she approves of Kate and Meghan Markle — though Harry “doesn’t have to worry” — given his role as a “spare”.
“They are lovely. They are being what their mum wanted to be, normal and natural. We like Kate but we say no one would ever step in Diana’s shoes but what we like, when there’re children, Kate gets down. My husband used to say, ‘look at that, Diana’