Princess Diana discovered the Philadelphia Eagles at a funeral. A famous funeral for another commoner turned royal — Princess Grace of Monaco, Philadelphia native Grace Kelly.
Diana, princess of Wales, was representing the British crown at the September 1982 funeral for Grace when she met Jack Edelstein, the statistician for the Eagles.
Edelstein was a longtime friend of the Kelly clan, who hailed from East Falls. During the funeral reception, he struck up a conversation with Diana about several topics: The United States, the dignity of Grace, the refreshing qualities of wine spritzers (it was the ’80s, after all).
He also brought up the Eagles, Edelstein said, recounting the tale to the Philadelphia Daily News after Diana’s death in 1997.
“She thought football was like soccer,” he said. “She asked, `What are your colors? ‘ I said, ‘Green and silver.’ She said, `Those are my favorite colors.’ ”
Edelstein promised to send her some T-shirts. The Eagles acted quickly, gathering a package of workout shorts, golf shirts, and caps adorned with Eagles logos to send her.
“We also sent her a beautiful Eagles jacket, made for her. It was Leonard Tose’s idea. He never went second-class,” Edelstein said of the then-team owner. “She sent me a very nice note, how she’d been wearing them around.”
About a decade later, in January 1991, Diana was spotted wearing a Kelly green varsity-style jacket outside London’s Wetherby Prep School.
“That’s the one we sent her,” Edelstein said.
Diana was later splashed on the cover of People magazine in 1994 wearing that Eagles jacket. Jeffrey Lurie, who had bought the team a month earlier, had the magazine cover blown up and hung on the wall of his spacious corner office at Veterans Stadium.
So, was the self-confident, trend-setting princess of Wales an Eagles fan?
“She wears these things because they create a look,” Andrew Morton, one of Britain’s leading authorities on the royal family, told Daily News writer Barbara Beck in 1991. “She knows very little about English sports, let alone American teams.”
We say: Nonsense. It wasn’t just the look. Diana admired Grace, who reflected the values of the city in which she was raised. Many dive bars across the city still have the Diana cover framed above pool tables and hung beside dartboards.
Di was one of us.