I don’t want people to forget Princess Diana. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales. She was complex and charismatic, regal yet down to earth. She is my favourite Briton. She died August 31 1997. She was important not only in Britain but also around the world. Literally millions of words have been written about the tragic young princess, the unofficial Queen of Hearts to millions of ordinary people throughout the world. Diana was not some obscenely overpaid movie star; self-indulgent, drug-befuddled rock musician or vacuous puppet of the TV reality shows; she was – warts and all – a real human being.
Conspiracy theorists say she was killed by the British Monarchy. Whatever the case, l will not stop celebrating her life. She was part of the common people. She forced the royal family to refocus and evaluate their public role. Diana was not only a royal you were permitted to touch as a human being, but one who reached out and touched those around her – literally and figuratively. What was it exactly that made Princess Diana so astonishingly popular? What made her such a universally beloved figurehead; the recipient of public adulation throughout the world. She cared for those that others rejected and did it in a shining way.
“An exceptional and gifted human being”
– That’s what the Queen called her.
“This is going to produce grief on a scale it’s very hard to imagine.”
– British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on hearing the news of Diana’s death an hour before it was publicly announced.
“The bill for Britain’s floral tribute to Princess Diana is expected to reach £30 million.”
– Daily Mail, September 4, 1997.
“When l met you in 1995 you gave me such strength. I only wish l could have been there for you.”
– Words on a bouquet left outside Buckingham Palace by cancer sufferer Josephine Rogers.
“She came here as a Red Cross volunteer and she really put the work in. She was a real trouper. Every morning she was up early ready to go. I have a lot of respect for the way she behaved. She was more concerned with the situation and what she could do to help than with her image.”
– Francois de la Roche, who was head of the Red Cross Foundation in Luanda.
“You were a Cinderella at the Ball and now you are a Sleeping Beauty”
– Lines left with a ballet shoe tied to the railing outside Kensington Palace.
“I’ve lost a sister and a best friend.”
– Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
“Diana had real girl power.”
– Spice Girl Geri.
“The worldwide TV audience for Diana’s funeral was estimated at a staggering 2,5-billion – about half the world’s population.”
– Daily Star.