Friday, August 31, 2012

The People's Princess: 15 Years After Diana's Death

Thousands of admirers returned to the grounds of Kensington Palace in London today to leave flowers to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of the beloved Princess Diana.

The scene was more quiet and serene than on that day fifteen years ago, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered—in complete and total shock—to mourn the loss of the beautiful and vibrant "People's Princess". The nation—and indeed the entire world—mourned her death, as the streets outside of Diana's home in Kensington Palace overflowed with loving floral tributes.

It was a far more sedate scene today, but thousands of people arrived to leave flowers as well as personal notes and photographs as a tribute to Diana, who would have been 51-years-old this year. Her death in a car crash in a Paris tunnel while being pursued by the relentless paparazzi cut short the life of a once shy young Lady Diana Spencer who had transformed into one of the world's most admired and beautiful women.

She seemed to have discovered a deeper determination in the years after her marriage to Prince Charles had dissolved, and many of her closest friends believed she had found love again with Dodi Al-Fayed, the son of Harrod's department store owner Mohamed Al-Fayed. Their whirl-away romance ended tragically, before Diana could find the happiness she deserved at long last.

She left behind two young sons, whom she loved and cared for so very deeply. It was obvious that William and Harry were her life, and they were shattered by her tragic passing. Diana would be incredibly proud of her two sons, and William has spoke of how he missed his mother immensely on his wedding day to Kate Middleton in April 2011. Diana would no doubt stand firmly behind Harry after his recent "nude" follies in Las Vegas. Or perhaps he would never have been involved in such follies at all had Diana lived, as he was only twelve when he lost his mother.

No one has replaced Diana in the years since her death, and that might be a good thing. Prince William's bride, the lovely Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been adored and pursued by the press, but it seems with less intensity and ferocity as the attention that followed her mother-in-law wherever she went in the world. No one could possibly recreate that sparkle, that sometimes forlorn, sometimes shy little smile or that naughty and playful little twinkle in her eyes when she was having a good time and enjoying herself, which was not always.

There are no planned events in London to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Princess Diana's passing, but for the hundreds of millions of people who adored and loved her, she will be remembered forever in our hearts.

The video below contains the moment from Diana's funeral that has forever been seared into my memory. As the horse-drawn cortege carrying the body of the Princess drew closer to the gate of Kensington Palace where tens of thousands of people had gathered, the crowd could hear the hooves of the horses hitting the pavement, knowing that the cortege was about to emerge from behind the gates. You can hear the crowd reacting with deep anguish. Once the cortege emerged from behind the gates, there is an unearthly chorus of wails of deep sadness, with voices crying out "Diana! Diana!". Those cries of grief have remained in my memory for these past fifteen years, and I know I will never forget them...

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