Are you all right, darling?” inquired the concerned Prince of Wales, slipping his arm around his wife’s waist as the couple was welcomed to Berlin during their seven-day visit to West Germany. Later, in Bonn, the Princess of Wales gazed adoringly at her husband as he addressed local dignitaries in German. Afterward she led the audience in enthusiastic applause. Well, okay, he did say “darling” rather loudly, well within range of a gaggle of reporters. And most of her gazing was done knowingly, in the presence of cameras. Still, give Charles and Diana credit for maintaining a decorous truce long enough to charm the admiring West Germans and to offer the world a half-convincing rebuttal to pervasive reports that their marriage is troubled.
Try they did. A smile, a blush here, a giggle there. They were so convincing that one British newspaper dubbed the visit the “Tender Tour,” and others trumpeted a reconciliation. But seasoned observers were skeptical. “They may have laughed and joked,” said intrepid royal reporter James Whitaker of the Daily Mirror, “but the magic wasn’t quite there.” Added a palace insider: “They clearly wanted to project the togetherness angle, but it was just a bit too calculated and contrived.” Indeed, when the cameras weren’t rolling, as at a fashion show in Cologne, eyewitnesses say Diana was conspicuously less responsive.
For the most part, though, the pair put up a united front as they dined with Chancellor Helmut Kohl, attended the ballet and sampled beer in Cologne. Even the inevitable hitches were met with good humor. After leaving Munich City Hall, Charles climbed into the first car of the official motorcade. Diana, as planned, waited for the second. But as that car and several others whizzed past, she pretended to thumb a ride. Finally, when an ambulance passed by, she joked, “That will do. I’ll take that one.”
As if her own abundant charm weren’t enough, Diana had another weapon in her arsenal of distractions. The radiant princess wore nearly a dozen outfits during her visit, most of them created for the occasion by some of her favorite British designers, including Victor Edelstein, Catherine Walker and the once-controversial Arabella Pollen. (Pollen had been out of favor with the palace after appearing topless in the British magazine Ritz.) Not every outfit was a hit, of course. A yellow-and-black-check ensemble by the West German design company Escada was roundly hooted by gimlet-eyed critics. “The pattern was so loud, you could hardly hear the welcome band,” complained one British fashion writer.
But such sour notes were few and far between. The question remained whether the mood could be sustained back in Britain. After seven days, the road show was over. Profiles were once again lowered, and Charles and Di weren’t scheduled to appear together in public again for eight days. When they do, inevitably, they will face the doubts that have dogged them in West Germany and be forced once more to dispel them—if they can.