WHY THERE’S STILL SUCH CONTROVERSY 25 YEARS AFTER PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH
Not only the British royal family, but Why the entire globe, was shocked and in sadness following Princess Diana’s death.
Diana, a gorgeous star at the age of 36, was well-known for her support of AIDS sufferers and efforts to clear poor nations of land mines.
She was also one of the most well-known people in the English-speaking world.
Millions of people had witnessed her transformation from the reserved 20-year-old wife of the older Prince Charles into a global icon whose legacy led to significant changes in the established royal family.
The manner of Diana’s passing and her legacy are described below.
What took place on August 31?
On August 31, 1997, the “People’s Princess” perished in a car accident in Paris.
The tragedy sparked debate over how the tabloid media covered her and conspiracy theories about how she died.
After divorcing Prince Charles, Princess Diana was beginning a new chapter in her life.
Tragically, on August 31, 1997, a car accident claimed the lives of Princess Diana, Dodi Al Fayed, and the driver Henri Paul. She was 36.
Dodi Fayed, an Egyptian-born man who was dating Diana at the time, and the driver, Henri Paul, perished in the collision, which happened as they attempted to avoid a pack of motorcycle-riding paparazzi on their way to Dodi’s apartment after leaving the Ritz Paris.
Even though the speed limit was only 30 mph, their car was traveling faster than that and eventually slammed into a pillar in the center of the road.
Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi al-Fayed were killed in a catastrophic vehicle accident in Paris, which was seen on camera.
In their honor, flower bouquets have been placed on the ground.
A cameraman films the point of the fatal car accident in Paris which killed Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi al-Fayed. Bunches of flowers have been laid down in their memory.
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, other paparazzi on the scene faced criticism for taking pictures instead of trying to help, according to witness testimony.
Many initially blamed the paparazzi for causing the crash but a French judge cleared them of wrongdoing in 1999.
Prosecutors later revealed that the driver, Paul, had a blood alcohol level three times above the country’s legal limit.
An extensive 2006 Scotland Yard investigation determined the crash was a “tragic accident.” But in April 2008, a British jury ruled that the driver and paparazzi were both to blame for grossly negligent driving.
That hasn’t stopped wider scrutiny of the press’ role in hounding Diana and her family.
Their fascination with Diana was in part due to her colorful and daring fashion style but also because of the ways she broke from royal tradition.
Diana’s close family members have maintained their strong criticism of the paparazzi.
Her brother, Charles Spencer, described his sister as “the most hunted person of the modern age”—referring to the press trailing her.
Fayed’s father, Mohamed al-Fayed, had previously claimed that Diana was pregnant with his son’s child but that has since been disproven by a forensic inquiry.
He has also criticized what he says was the royal family’s disapproval of Diana and Dodi’s relationship, citing Dodi’s heritage and Muslim faith.
Diana had publicly discussed her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, to the Palace’s disapproval, admitting in a bombshell interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir in 1995 that both had extramarital affairs.
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she said, referring to Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles would later marry Parker Bowles in 2005, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip not in attendance.
Diana and Prince Charles officially divorced in 1996.
The Royal Family’s response
The Queen’s first public address came five days after Diana’s death.
“I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being,” she said in a speech broadcast to the nation.
“In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”
Update:Queen Elizabeth is dead at age 96.
But the delay in acknowledgement raised scrutiny among some in the British public.
Mary Francis, an aide to the Queen, told Newsweek in a 2017 interview that she believed the family was “somewhat slow, perhaps, to recognize the need to step forward in their public role of showing leadership for the country in its grief about the death of the princess.”
In recent years, Prince Harry, one of Diana’s two sons, has spoken more openly about his grief. “I was so angry with what happened to her—and the fact that there was no justice at all.
Nothing came from that. The same people that chased her into the tunnel photographed her dying on the backseat of that car,” he said in the 2021 Apple TV+ documentary The Me You Can’t See.
Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, told British media in 2017 that he had been lied to by palace courtiers about the two princes, then 12 and 15, wanting to walk behind their mother’s coffin at the internationally televised funeral.
It was a “bizarre and cruel thing,” he said, explaining that he had pushed for the duo not to have to do so.
He called the procession “the most horrifying half an hour of my life.”
Prince Harry had previously spoken out about how difficult walking behind his mother at the funeral procession was.
“My mother had just died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” he told Newsweek in a 2017 interview. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.” He later, reflecting on the occasion, said that he was “very glad” to have been part of the day.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry, and Prince Charles walk outside Westminster Abbey during the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, on Sept. 6, 1997. Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Central London to watch the funeral procession.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry, and Prince Charles walk outside Westminster Abbey during the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, on Sept. 6, 1997.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Central London to watch the funeral procession.
The relationship between Diana and the paparazzi
The British paparazzi earned a reputation for closely following Diana’s every move; she was one of the most photographed people in the world and snapshots of her could sell for lucrative prices—hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece.
In 1993, Diana sued Mirror Group Newspapers for publishing pictures of her working out in a gym. She also spoke openly about her disdain of being endlessly pursued by paparazzi; once, yelling out to a photographer who took a picture of her leaving a movie theater in 1993: “you make my life hell.”
At a speech in December 1993, Diana said that she knew starting a public life would entail media attention but she didn’t realize just how much of her private life would be scrutinized, too. “I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become. Nor the extent to which it would affect both my public duties and my personal life, in a manner that’s been hard to bear,” she said.
A 1997 Gallup poll found that 43% of Brits thought photographers were “extremely” responsible for the accident that led to Diana’s death, compared to 33% who assigned the same level of blame to the driver.
A more recent 2018 YouGov poll found that Princess Diana is Britain’s most mourned public figure, a sign of her lasting legacy a quarter of a century after her death.
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