By Elizabeth P. Valk/Publisher
Updated October 10, 1990 12:00 PM

Being royal means never having to say you’re sorry. That spin on the famed Love Story line comes from Eric Levin, editor of this PEOPLE Extra. “The essence of being royal,” he observes, “is believing that you’re marvelous by definition. Royals may not rule by divine right anymore, but unless their attitude puts across some divine right, we don’t really buy that they’re royal. Yet,” Levin continues, “there’s a knack to it. If you’ve got the knack, like Diana, the Queen and the Queen Mother, the world loves you for it. If you don’t, you come across haughty, like Princess Michael. But the worst thing is to miss the boat entirely, like Fergie. Being Fergie means always having to say you’re sorry, which she never does.”

Homing in on that royal knack—celebrating and examining what in our opening photo essay we call That Regal Rush—is a mission of this PEOPLE Extra. To follow our 1988 special issue on the Princess of Wales with a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of her emergence, we recognized that we had to do more than marvel again at her stunning transformation from apple-cheeked schoolgirl to radiant and compassionate Princess Mom. We needed a broad, fresh portrait of the punctilious royal world and the private, pent-up family Diana married into—because her own personal magnetism had drawn tremendous new interest to these as well.

Back in May, Picture Editor Beth Filler, Assistant Picture Editor Mary Fanette and Editor Levin spent an instructive fortnight in London steeping themselves in Windsor ambiance. All three witnessed Di in action (Levin’s press badge hangs below; “rota” stands for rotation). When the Yanks left, PEOPLE’S London bureau embarked upon what, mopping brows, they call “our largest undertaking ever.” We call it their finest hour. Laura Sanderson Healy tracked Windsor lingo and inflection (“Charles’s voice is particularly gentle—and sexy,” she says), while other staffers literally camped on doorsteps to reach sources. Rosemary Thorpe-Tracey tracked a christening date, she reports, “to an obscure letter from the Duke of Wellington to Queen Victoria.”

In San Francisco, Ann Rhoney, a photographer and former museum curator, lovingly researched and hand-colored the pictures illustrating the essay on the Windsor family history. In New York, Chief of Reporters Denise Lynch and her staff separated fact from fiction, not an easy task given the British tabloids’ penchant for embroidery. In the end, the deeper we got into the world of the Windsors the more fascinated we became. It calls to mind a remark President Reagan made after an evening aboard the royal yacht Britannia. “I thought Hollywood was the entertainment capital of the world,” he said, “but they couldn’t beat this.” Read on, and see what we mean.