An Irish nurse has spoken about her friendship with the late Princess Diana and said that the princess told her to never lose her accent.
Michelle Rogers Dunican knew Diana during the late 1980s to early 1990s and the pair met 37 times.
Michelle is from Co Laois but lived in the UK at the time. She was a huge fan of Diana and visited as many of her public engagements as she could.
She recently held an exhibition of photographs she took from her meetings with the princess.
Michelle told the Irish Independent: “It was nothing to do with an interest in photography, my interest was purely in Diana. In 1981 when she got married, my mum, who is English, had a great interest in it and bought me a book on the royal wedding, and that started my interest in Diana from 1981 on.
“I was 12 when she got married and I had no real interest in the royal family really. It was her, when she got married and the whole razzmatazz about her.”
Seven years later, Michelle met her idol for the first time. She said: “In 1988 I went to London to do my nurse training and Diana was going to a theatre down the road from me in Bromley.
“I was down to see what was going on, and I saw her going into the theatre. I waited for three hours till she came out, and she came over.
“She shook hands and said a few words. I couldn’t believe it, I was amazed.”
Over the years Diana began to recognise Michelle after seeing her at several similar engagements. Michelle said that Diana was very charismatic.
She said: “Really it was about meeting her and she’d get to know you, she’d see the same faces, me and 10 or 11 other people who always tried to go to her engagements as much as possible.
“She’d say things like ‘Have you no work to go to?’ and I’d explain I was a nurse and worked weekends, and would have days off during the week. So then she’d ask how the nursing was going, or things like that.”
Michelle said that the princess loved her Irish accent.
She said: “One day, as she was walking, we asked her something about William and Harry, and she looked back at me and said, ‘Don’t ever lose the accent’.”
Michelle has a private collection of 400 photographs from 1990-97, which she recently put on display at the Gallic Kitchen at Bramley in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.