Samantha Armytage vividly recalls that Sunday morning when she, a uni student recovering from a 21st the night before, huddled with friends around a TV set in Sydney and watched the terrible news unfold. “We were all in tears – it was like a movie but it was real life. You felt like you’d lost a member of the family.”
Samantha has squirreled away all The Weekly souvenir editions from the royal weddings, devoured all the tell-all books about Diana – and still looks to the late princess for style pointers .
“I’ll often trawl through pictures of her for outfit inspo still, because she really is one of the all-time classically elegant women,” says the 40-year-old Sunrise host. “By the end of her life, she had really just hit her stride.”
For Samantha, Diana’s death left a lasting impression that “nobody’s life is perfect and you never know what’s going on behind the scenes. You can have everything in the world and still not be happy – that’s quite a powerful message.”
With age, she adds, has come a growing awareness of her own mortality and a desire to live more in the present. Her motto, she says, is “don’t die wondering” – which was her dad’s standard response whenever she was agonising over something as a kid.
“It always rattles around in my brain whenever I’m having doubts or second-guessing myself: have a go – you could be wrong, you could be judged, sometimes you will be upset and things won’t go your way, and that’s life – but you’ve got to make the most of it because you’ve only got one.”
The Princess of Wales is remembered by close friends and relatives in a special tribute in this month’s issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, on sale now.