Independent International School Bonn

Teacher recalls royal visit in 1987

Marlene Kluge zeigt stolz ihre Fotos im Diana-Album.

Marlene Kluge showing her Princess Diana album from 1987.

BAD GODESBERG. A former teacher of IBIS remembers when Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited the international school on the Heiderhof 30 years ago on this day. She has dedicated a photo album to the royal visit.

A layer of typical English fog hovered above the Heiderhof.  At the Independent Bonn International School (IBIS), students, teachers and international guests stood tall and straight.  “Police were running around everywhere. And one of their dogs had sniffed all the trashcans for possible dangerous items," says Marlene Kluge. The former IBIS teacher leafs through her album, which she had created especially for this day on November 3, 1987. 

Previous to the visit, she and other faculty members had practiced the curtsy diligently.  Then Headmaster Peter Ward had set up a 20-point instruction plan, in which he jokingly referred to a nervous breakdown after the royal guests would depart IBIS safely.  On this misty morning at 10 am, the limousine of British Crown Prince Charles pulled into Tulpenbaumweg on the Heiderhof, reports Kluge.

The 83-year-old was back then wearing an embroidered blouse, standing in the middle of the welcoming committee.  A cheer went through the crowd.  Children waved English and German flags.  Kluge shows pictures of Princess Diana with a blow-dried blond hair style, dressed elegantly in black and white, and coming closer and closer. 

Her husband cut off hobby photographers in the heat of the moment.  “She leaned in kindly towards the children and took flowers they had handed her, also gently touching some of their hands,” says Kluge.  Even 30 years later, she is still enthusiastic about Diana’s presence back then.  

In contrast, her husband had rather distanced himself from the crowd, and seemed to keep a British stiff upper lip.   But Kluge is sure that he had spoken affectionately with his wife.  “They seemed like a happy couple to us,” she said.  Even though one had read before this state visit that their relationship was not going well. 

 “Krauts, you have saved this marriage,” wrote the London newspaper “Sun”, thanking the German “sauerkraut eaters” and showing photos full of harmony in the fall of 1987.  The newspaper asked, "What was it that brought them together again in Germany?"  

Was it the successful presentation of IBIS that produced the “Wonder of Germany”, asked the “Sun”?  “Well, we made every effort,” says the former teacher with a chuckle.  England’s “Princess of the Hearts” had come to Kluge’s German class with current IBIS Headteacher Irene Bolik while the prince was attending music lessons. 

Here, too, Lady Di was interested in inquiring about the learning of the children and telling them about their sons, who they had had to leave at home. The students gave their keepsakes for William and Harry. "Totally likeable and pleasant, this woman. She came across to us as a wonderful ambassador of the royalty," says Kluge.

There was still an exhausting schedule of appointments for Princess Diana in the Rhineland.  In the afternoon, she was amidst a crowd of people at the Bonn Markt, and in the evening she attended a reception at the Redoute with Boris Becker and others.  The next day, it was off to Cologne for a beer with Prince Charles at the Cologne Cathedral, a German newspaper captioning a photo “In love with Kölsch.” 

Marlene shows the article with a smile. There was nothing about any distress being being experienced by Princess Diana.  It read “Charles and Di exchanged loving glances,” just as Marlene Kluge had observed at IBIS.  Orig. text: Ebba Hagenberg-Miliu Translation: Carol Kloeppel