This month marks 20 years since the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales. For many people, that 20 years seems like yesterday. Much has changed since then. But, even in death, Diana has had an impact on the world. Her memory lives on in many ways.
In the early morning of August 31, 1997, the world lost Diana, Princess of Wales. She had recently returned to Paris from a vacation in Sardinia with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. Late in the evening of August 30, she and Dodi prepared to leave the Hotel Ritz. They had gone there for dinner. The plan was to return to the apartment at which they were staying in another part of town. Shortly after midnight, on the morning of August 31, they got into a Mercedes driven by Henri Paul. Paul was a driver and employee of the Ritz. What they probably did not know was that Paul was “under the influence of drink and drugs,” according to the London Telegraph. If tested, he would have failed a sobriety test and been deemed unfit to operate a motor vehicle at that time.
What happened next rocked the world. Diana and Dodi, in the back of the car, with Paul and Trevor Rees-Jones, Diana’s bodyguard, in the front seat, entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. The Mercedes S280 sedan was traveling at approximately 65 mph when it “crashed into the 13th pillar,” as reported by the BBC, bringing the car to an immediate halt and incurring massive damage. Only Mr. Rees-Jones survived the crash.
Diana’s death and subsequent funeral made headlines across the world and dominated news stories for weeks after the accident. And, 20 years later, Diana is still impacting the world.
During her life, Diana was an advocate for AIDS patients and research. Diana visited Mildmay Hospital in London multiple times, as reported by Daily Mail. Mildmay, which provides care and hospice to AIDS patients, earned needed respect and funding after Diana’s visits. She helped to create awareness and greater acceptance of the AIDS issue and its victims. And, carrying on her legacy, the hospital received another royal visit at the end of 2015, this time from Prince Harry. The hospital was honored to receive Harry at the dedication of “the centre’s new facilities.” Memories of Diana were the highlight of the day. It shows Diana’s impact is evident still today.
Earlier this year, the White Garden opened at Kensington Palace, Diana’s home at the time of her death. Today, the palace is home to Diana’s two sons, Princes Harry and William, including William’s wife and two children.
The White Garden is a temporary display in honor of Princess Diana. It is a transformation of “the historic Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace,” as described by Historic Royal Palaces. It opened in April of this year. It features many white flowers, including white roses, white tulips, daffodils, lilies, and others. It was created in memory of Diana in the 20th year since her death. While it is a temporary memorial, it will surely bring lasting memories. It is open to the public and on display through September. It is another way that Diana’s impact is evident still today.
The world lost a princess on August 31, 1997. This month, we are remembering her. But, we are also witnessing the impact that she still has, nearly 20 years after her death. Diana, Princess of Wales, was the people’s princess.
[Featured Image by Eduardo di Baia/AP Images]