Britain said goodbye to Princess Diana on September 6, 1997, after a week of grieving the untimely passing of the “The People’s Princess.” The shocking loss of the beloved royal after a car crash sent the U.K. into mourning. There was no better evidence of the collective feeling of grief than the massive amount of flowers left in front of Buckingham Palace and Diana’s own residence at Kensington Palace.
The funeral procession went from St. James Palace to Westminster Abbey. As the Scotsman recalled today, hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the route. Writing for The Independent the day after the funeral Steve Boggan noted the crowd was twenty people deep and when the procession ended, “many were overcome with the raw pain of it all.”
Diana died at the young age of 36. Her sons Prince William and Prince Harry were 15 and 12.
While identifying the strength of the young boys as they honoured their mother during the procession, Boggan documented they could not hide their grief:
“The princes did not weep but they appeared desperately sad, each boy with head bowed staring intently at the ground. Wearing dark suits, white shirts and black ties, their presence provoked spontaneous applause and, sporadically, disturbing wails of grief from crowds of mourners who were otherwise silent and dignified.”
Diana was admired for her love of people and her extensive work with charitable organizations. Her memorial paid tribute to this fact as several hundred people representing 100 charities participated.
As Boggan described it:
“There were people in wheelchairs, blind marchers carrying lilies and the aid workers and victims of illnesses that the princess had supported in life. In short, they were the people she would have wanted in the limelight.”
At the time of her death, it was Diana’s charitable work that was remembered in a BBC tribute. The BBC discussed her work on landmine prevention and with AIDS patients. In 1987, the princess shook the hand of a man with AIDS, at the time reducing barriers to understanding.
In the BBC clip, Diana says:
“I think the biggest disease this world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. And I know that I can give love — for a minute, a half an hour, a day, a month — but I can give, and I’m very happy to do that.”
[Princess Diana Main Image: Google]