Diana, Princess of Wales, filled that role in the British Royal Family for only a few short years before she died almost 20 years ago, leaving behind her young sons, Princes William and Harry. The princess was far too young at only 36 years old when she died in a car crash, and her death “stunned” the world.
Despite Diana’s early death and the many years since the tragic car crash, her image and her influence live on. The Irish Independent wrote that Diana’s son and his wife, Prince William and Duchess Kate, are “proof of Princess Diana’s legacy” with their informal, friendly attitude towards others, and less of the famous British stiff upper lip. William and Kate, as well as William’s younger brother Harry, work hard to follow Diana’s example of warmth and authenticity as they go about their royal duties.
The princess’ bodyguard recently came forward to share some of his memories of the early days in the royal family, when William and Harry were little. Ken Wharfe said that he can see a lot of Diana in the princes now and over the years as they grew up without their mother.
When Princess Diana, or Lady Di as she was affectionately known, first made headlines as the future wife of Prince Charles, her adoring fans quickly gave her the title of “Queen of Hearts.” Two decades later, that’s still how thousands of people think of the princess whose death shattered the world on August 31, 1997.
Twitter user Angie wrote that she remembers the day Diana died like it was yesterday, and added that time goes too fast.
Starts at Sixty wrote a tribute to the young princess, revisiting some of the scenes that so endeared Diana to the world. Several of the photos show Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry, a reminder of how much her sons miss her now. People magazine put together some “tear-jerking quotes” from Princes William and Harry about Diana. “All I want to do is make my mother incredibly proud,” Prince Harry said in a cover story with the magazine. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
For many, the day of Diana’s death is burnt into their memories, just as an earlier generation never forgot the horrifying moment when President Kennedy was shot. Those dedicated followers know exactly what they were doing when they heard the news of Princess Diana’s death. Today British Royal Family news outlets like the Bristol Post are asking their readers to talk about what they were doing when Diana died.
“No doubt you remember where you were when you heard the news Princess Diana, the Queen of Hearts, had died.”
In 1997, the internet was a new social media nearly unheard of, and around the world people huddled by radios or stayed riveted to the television as the drama unfolded. They called their friends to cry together on the telephone, and bought up all the newspapers to devour every word and then cut out the articles to make scrap books.
Now, Diana’s loyal and loving “subjects” commemorate the anniversary of her death on Twitter. One person tweeted that she remembered her mom waking her up to tell her that Princess Diana had died.
The tragic accident happened “35 minutes past midnight,” Paris time, according to the original New York Times article that hit newsstands that evening in the U.S. Paris is six hours ahead of New York, so New Yorkers were just sitting down to their evening meal when the news broke. Many still have the newspapers that reported on the unfolding tragedy.
One Twitter user said that Princess Diana’s death was the first major news story he remembers hearing, and he knows where he was when it happened too.
Another person worried that Diana hasn’t been left in peace since she died. There have been various conspiracy theories and accusations of royal cover-ups coming and going, and it doesn’t look like those rumors will ever disappear.
One British business owner tweeted simply, “A day to remember Diana” with the hashtag, RIP.
How will you commemorate the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death? Do you have souvenirs of the Princess of Wales, or memories of the day Diana died?
[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]