David Campbell: ‘Could my son be Princess Diana?’
OK. This is going to be the strangest column I have ever written, so bear with me.
I never thought I would experience anything like this... but here goes.
Our youngest, Billy, is four. From the age of about two-and-a-half, he has shared several tales that at first seemed silly.
He provided more information as the years went on and now we don't know what to do with it.
You see, Billy believes he was once Princess Diana.
It started when someone gave my wife Lisa, who is very British, a thank-you card with Lady Di on it. Billy pointed and said, "Look! It's me when I was a princess."
I realise this is a pretty standard, random thing that many children tend to say, so we didn't think much of it. Kids! They say the darndest things, right?
But he started to refer to his two "boys". When asked what boys, our then three-year-old would say his "sons". OK... strange, but sure, mate.
Soon after, what seemed innocent, fanciful and even cute took a sharp right turn to Weirdville.
To a Scottish friend of ours, he claimed when he was Princess Diana he used to go to a castle in that kilted wonderland. He described the castle as having "unicorns on it" and was called Balmoral.
Which is the Queen's Scottish residence. The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland and there are unicorns on the walls and how does he know this??? He is four years old!
Obviously Lisa and I turned into Scully and Mulder at this stage and needed to investigate.
Here is a child with no knowledge whatsoever of the monarchy. How could he?
You can also rule out parental interference. While my wife is English, she is not obsessed with the royals. Certainly, we have zero memorabilia in our house. I would talk more about our Windsor friends to Sonia Kruger on TV than I would to Lisa.
Billy was now at an age when we could ask him questions and, if he was in the right mood, he would deign to give an answer.
"Who else was in your family when you were a princess, Bill?" my wife probed. "I have brothers and sisters," replied the wannabe Windsor. "I have a brother called John."
Aha! We had him. Lisa reminded me that there is no John Spencer. Diana's brother is Charles. He was making this up.
Yet when we went to Diana's Wikipedia page, we turned pale. Diana's infant brother John died a year before she was born.
Now I feel like we are those parents whose child you read about on the internet. They remember being on the Titanic or can speak a foreign language even though it's not their native tongue.
Some time has passed. But it was one of the last things he said that stopped us in our tracks.
Lisa showed him another photo of Diana, and Billy said: "There's me as a princess. Then one day the sirens came and I wasn't a princess anymore." People shiver when we tell them this one.
I don't know what to tell you. I want to not believe this, but we also don't want to close the conversation down. Or make him feel like his "memory" is not real. We have some proper questions though.
Will Billy grow up and never remember this?
Could he actually be the reincarnated essence of the People's Princess?
Is he somehow channelling spirits like that kid in The Sixth Sense?
Wait... am I Bruce Willis? Have I been dead this whole time?
David co-hosts Today Extra, 9am Monday - Wednesday, and Weekend Today, 7am weekends, on the Nine Network.