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Like many of us, when I grew up, royalty was still something that seemed like it came out of a book of fairy tales, and represented people whose lives seemed to never touch the ground. The images one got of royals was of people sitting on throneson horses, in carriages, or up in opera boxes, looking down at the crowds. The daily realities that made up ordinary people's existences didn't seem to be a part of what happened to kings and queens and their families. I remember the first time it registered with me that this might not be the case. I was about eleven, and living in a country which was very much involved with its royal family: Scotland. I had a friend whose claim to fame was that she knew somebody who in turn knew somebody who went to school with Princess Anne. One day my friend told me something that brought my concept of royalty down to earth. She explained that the princess didn't like all that waving that was expected of her when she went out in public. Apparently it was exhausting for her elbow, and she'd shown some of her schoolmates a waving technique she'd learned to keep her arm from being tired-she'd twist her hands as if she were opening a champagne bottle. Whether or not there was any truth to this story, I loved it-because it popped the myth that people who have the title of royalty don't have the kinds of troubles that everybody else has. Now we know just how true it is that kings and queens and princes and princesses are as human as the rest of us.
But those were still the days when everybody expected bluebloods to act as if they were not made of flesh and blood. In Scotland I could see just how worked up the world could become over royalty. The greatscandal of the time was still over the fact that the queen had come to Scotland and worn the same hat that she'd had on at a ceremony in England. To my friends all this fuss over pomp and circumstance was silly. It was 1963, and it was the new world not the old world that obsessed us. This new world was coming to us through the sounds that we were hearing on the radio, and on our record players. We had a routine that would never bore us. Every Saturday morning we'd get together; school uniforms off, jeans on; armed with our favorite singles and some bottles of pop. We'd lie on the floor, close our eyes, and listen to songs that would transport us. There was Cliff Richard and the Shadows, singing "We're all going on a summer holiday." In rainy Scotland, with the weight of our undone homework on our minds, this song to us was better than a ticket to the moon. And then, of course, there were the Beatles. Every time we'd put on "Twist and Shout" it would be goodbye to the week's demands of behaving properly like nice young ladies. We'd dance as we were never going to stop, and sing our lungs out. We kept up this Saturday morning routine for a few years. By 1965 we were at the age when boys had become a subject of some interest, but really there was only one band of boys who had our heartsHerman's Hermits. Their song "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am" really did it for us. We could play it over and over and never tire of it. Needless to say when Herman's Hermits came to our sleepy town we stood watch at the hotel where they were staying, in the hopes of getting a glimpse of the band. We would never have done that for Henry the Eighth himself. Now I see that our affection for that tune represented something bigger than we realized then. It was a story about a common man who found his royalty inside himself. It was a song that captured the essence of what it is about pop music that has made it such a symbol of all the changes that have happened in the world. I don't know whether Gianni Versace has ever used this song in his collections, but I do know that he understands the empowerment of rock'n'roll. He suffuses his world with rock'n'roll. When you call the Versace headquarters there's rock'n'roll on the tape. When you go to a Versace show there's rock'n'roll to accompany the presentations of the clothes, and there are rock'n'rollers in the audience. There are also often rock'n'roll stars in his advertising. The presence of all this rock matches what it is that Versace wants to do as a fashion designer. He wants to rock all the old boundaries that get in the way of people's freedom to rule their own lives. And he celebrates the fact that we have come to a point where we can do that more than we ever have before. His observation that rock'n'rollers are the new royalty is really a nod to each of us that a crown is not something you're born with, but something you earn. l I wish he'd designed our school uniforms when I was a young girl in Scotland. For that matter, I bet the queen wouldn't mind an outfit or two by him. Some of her daughters-in-law are already customers. Even royalty wants to rock.