He may not be royalty, but he’s still a member of the royal family. After months of speculation as to whether or not he would or would not marry American fashion designer, Bella Hadid, the 26-year-old prince finally walked down the aisle and married the beautiful model in May.
But the soon-to-be couple’s happy event was overshadowed by a sudden and shocking death. While on a routine drive with his wife on 5 August, their leased private limousine crashed into a tree, killing both of them on impact. As shocking and as tragic as this was, it pales in comparison to what happened next.
The world was left in mourning as news of the tragedy spread. Fans and followers filled social media with their grief and heartfelt tributes, while Hollywood insiders scrambled to make sense of the unexpected double tragedy. With so much speculation and gossip surrounding the couple’s private lives, it was only a matter of time before the limelight shifted to their business dealings. And perhaps that’s what led to the investigation that ultimately cleared their names, putting the gossip and the speculation to rest once and for all.
Here, we’ll explore the events that unfolded after the accident, how they impacted the couple’s brand, and the lasting impact that their untimely deaths will have on the fashion industry.
On the afternoon of 5 August, as Bella Hadid prepared to walk down the aisle for the second time, her fans gathered at LaGuardia Airport in New York City to await her arrival. The couple had spent the previous 24 hours in a wedding photo shoot with their close friend and renowned photographer, David Lichtenstein. Following the ceremony, they would begin their new life as husband and wife, sharing a traditional Korean wedding gift, the ‘keitai’, a bouquet of yellow and green flowers, with their guests. As the flowers were symbolic of love and happiness, the newlywed couple were understandably delighted to receive them.
But on the drive from the airport to their wedding venue in New Jersey, their chauffeur lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a tree. Although unharmed, the limousine was significantly damaged and could not be driven. The couple were trapped inside for approximately 45 minutes as emergency personnel arrived at the scene and cleared the road. An eyewitness reported that one of the attendants was “literally holding [Prince] Robbie’s hand the whole time,” adding that he “was just white” and “never opened his eyes.”
The couple were taken to a nearby hospital where they were declared ‘bio-incompatible’ and doctors discontinued attempts at resuscitation. They were later transferred to a Manhattan care facility where they were kept on life support for several days before being pronounced dead by doctors on 8 August.
As shocking and tragic as the accident was, it did not take long for news outlets to begin to piece together a narrative. While some reports suggested that paparazzi may have been to blame for the crash, police ruled out any type of crime after an investigation. Speculation abounded as to whether or not the accident was deliberately caused by someone who was either frustrated or saddened by the happy couple’s recent good fortune. Ultimately, the investigators concluded that the crash was an ‘act of God’.
As speculation continued to swirl, investigators turned their attention to the business affairs of the late couple. A week after the crash, the New York City medical examiner announced that neither of the royal visitors had any signs of trauma consistent with foul play, ruling out a murder-suicide. When asked about the couple’s business interests, a representative for the York County coroner said, “The crash was an accident and nothing more. We don’t believe there’s any foul play. He was just a very talented musician who happened to be driving at the wrong time.”
In the weeks and months that followed the accident, fans and followers took to social media to share their grief and to praise the couple for their devotion to each other. Some went as far as to suggest that the pair had been ‘chosen’ to bring good fortune to others, just as they had been blessed with happiness. Just two weeks after their wedding, the couple’s good friends and representatives from their respective churches dedicated a special service in their honor, with the bride’s uncle referring to them as “wonderful people who have been chosen to help others find contentment and joy.”
While some may have seen tragedy when confronted with the news of the couple’s deaths, others took comfort in the fact that their lives were now devoted to Christ. Just a few days before their untimely deaths, the couple had shared a touching moment as they arrived at church, with Bella whispering “I do” as she gave a kiss to her new spouse. The week before his death, Prince Bob wrote on Instagram, “Thank you for all the wonderful memories. We have grown old together, but it has been an honor to share these last 10 years with you.”
Bella’s grandmother, Lola, spoke on the couple’s behalf, saying, “They were the sweetest most devoted couple, such a beautiful wedding and such a lovely gesture of the prince giving the flowers to my daughter with his own hands. They were just truly wonderful people.”
The Fashion Impact
As shocking and tragic as the couple’s deaths were, it was their undeniable impact on the fashion industry that ultimately caused their names to go down in history. After walking the runway a total of six times for Anna della Rupe’s brand, Bella Hadid Style, the young designer was forced to close down her company, citing the “extraordinary demand” that her fans and followers placed on her products. She later founded her own brand, based on her friendship with the couple, and named after them. Her eponymous label released its first collection, named ‘Robert Pattinson’, in October 2018. The designer described the collection as “very pure and classic in its aesthetic,” and named one of the dresses in the collection ‘Princesa’, after the late royal couple.
While no longer able to pursue design due to her grief, Bella Hadid continues to be a vocal advocate for the fashion industry and for brides and grooms-to-be, speaking out against the trend of ‘bride crashing’, or when wedding parties crash weddings (or vice versa). She has also spoken out against the use of fake flowers and has encouraged couples to use only natural, real flowers during their big day. In an interview with Vogue three months after the accident, she said, “I think it’s really important that you use as many real flowers as you can during the wedding. I don’t think it’s right for the hotel to have filled the room with fake flowers. It’s a fake wedding, so it’s not like it’s hurting anyone, but I think it’s still deceitful.”
The Investigation Continues
No matter what the couple’s personal life may have been like, they will be forever remembered for their devotion to each other and for their untimely and tragic deaths. While the specifics of their story may never be known, their names will certainly never be forgotten.