She captured the heart of Royalty and the attention of the world, but it all started with a letter.
Diamond Marshall, age six, wrote to an impossibly hard-to-reach dignitary thousands of kilometres away. Her goal was simple - she wanted to meet a princess.
In a child’s world, Kate Middleton is that. Technically, she’s the Duchess of Cambridge, wife of future King William. But she’d do. Diamond watched their wedding from a hospital bed.
The letter ended simply enough: “Who is your favourite princess?”
So began the process to make the sick child’s dream a reality. Young Diamond (“Di”) was given a unique name like that of her mother, Memory (“Mem”), who passed away in 2007 due to cancer.
Diamond is fighting the same battle - she has stage four, or advanced, sarcoma. She was diagnosed seven months ago, and has had two life-saving surgeries since. Many more lie along her difficult path to recovery.
But on Thursday, all that was out of mind. Young Diamond stood quietly on a Calgary tarmac with her father and step-mother. The Premier, Mayor and Lieutenant Governor stood nearby as the helicopters landed.
She would get her wish.
The Duchess of Cambridge greeted dignitaries before heading to young Diamond, wearing a pink dress with a matching headband and bow wrapping her shorn head. The girl didn’t wait. She sprinted for the Duchess, giving her legs a quick hug before retreating to her parents arms.
“We did tell her - if you don’t have much to say, don’t say much. That’s how she said it,” says her father, Lyall Marshall.
Smiling, the Duchess crouched next to Diamond and spoke for several minutes with the girl. Diamond gave her flowers.
“She was beautiful,” Diamond told reporters afterwards.
The moment was among the day’s most memorable with a large contingent of Canadian and international press on hand. As of Thursday evening, more than 4,000 articles had been written worldwide about Diamond, Alberta officials said.
“I also got the chance to eavesdrop on their interactions with little miss Diamond, who gave them the flowers,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi recalled. “And they were just beyond lovely with her. What kind people.”
The meeting was set up by the Children’s Wish Foundation, which received Diamond’s letter along with a request from her parents.
“We realize Diamond’s wish is enormous,” they wrote. “We also realize she may not have the chance to go to Disneyland, where she wants to lunch with princesses. Should the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just happen to swing by for a little visit, it would go a long way for helping her spirits as she is in awe of Princess Kate’s fairytale like story.”
After the meeting, the Royals were swept off to the rest of their Calgary tour. Diamond went home - it was, after all, dinner time. But she wasn’t interested in that, her father said.
“She’s pacing around the house, carrying a wand,” he says. “We were thrilled to have her meet a princess.”