Princess Diana

While the August sun shone over London, the mood of the city was desolate, nowhere more so than Kensington Palace. Thousands of lilies and tulips lined the gates while people of all ages waited patiently on line to pay their respects. Parents sobbed as children hung their drawings next to the flowers that covered the entire entrance to the palace. The atmosphere was filled with sadness. The beloved Princess Diana was dead at age 36.

Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a horrendous car accident in Paris involving the paparazzi the night before. For the next five days leading up to Diana’s funeral, people were glued to the television reliving the precious moments of Diana’s life. Once the day finally approached, 2,000 people attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey and two billion people worldwide watched the televised broadcast, making her funeral one of the most watched events in history.

In her early days, Diana was seen as Prince Charles’ naïve, innocent girlfriend, being 13 years younger. This was the beginning of Diana’s rise to fame; the media and the public were fascinated with her. “Once the engagement was announced, the focus of the press was even sharper on Lady Diana Spencer than it had been before,” royal press officer Ronald Allison told the authors of “Diana: Story of a Princess.” “They were no longer speculating about who the Prince of Wales was going to marry, they were absolutely concentrated whole-heartedly, one hundred per cent, on the person he was going to marry.”

Their wedding drew 750 million viewers from the global broadcast while 600,000 people lining the streets all the view this historical moment. All of this appeared to be perfect but Diana and Charles’ marriage quickly took a turn for the worst. Charles carried on a relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles while married to Diana and did not try to hide it from her. Camilla and Charles began excluding Diana causing her to feel alone and leaving her with no one in the Palace, according to several biographies including “Diana’s Nightmare: The Family.” Chris Hitchens, a co-author spent a great deal of time with Diana. He found out what truly happened behind closed doors at the Palace with the royal family. “It became a matter of her versus the royal family. The public preferred her to the established royals,” said Hutchins on a phone interview.

After 11 years of this rollercoaster ride of a marriage, Diana and Charles decided to separate. The scandal only increased the media frenzy, with paparazzi trailing Diana with their two sons, Prince William and Prince Henry. In “The Diana Chronicles” by Tina Brown, Diana’s relationship with the media as well as her calculated actions were revealed. “Diana was a natural at giving the press what they wanted. She was herself an avid consumer of tabloid news,” Brown wrote. “She ‘got’ that audience’s need to be fed with pictures and dreams, its requirement of novelty and surprise, it’s yearning to find a newcomer and crown her Queen.” Brown questioned Diana’s media savvy and whether she was truly the innocent woman everyone felt sympathy for.

Throughout Diana’s short life, she was able to connect with people and immersed herself in charity work leading her to be called the People’s Princess. Although Diana was constantly in the public’s eye and people believed they knew much about her, it was not known what she was going through while dealing with the royals until some tell-all biographies were published after she died. In “Diana: Her True Story,” journalist Andrew Morton referenced secret tapes that Diana recorded while living at Kensington Palace. These tapes took place in 1991 and were used for communication between Morton and Diana for the book he was writing about her that was originally published in 1992. One year after Diana’s death, Morton republished this book including all the private information from those tapes.

During an interview on the Today show where a clip from one of the tapes where Diana is speaking about her struggles at the palace was played, Morton said, “Here you’re seeing a warm, a very human individual who’s struggling to cope with a life that she did do. And I think they will get a greater understanding of her and I think that the public will start to understand Diana in a very different way because she’s also very funny.”

There are a lot of different contributing events that led to Diana’s rise to fame but she made an impact on the world. “I’ve written books about a lot of people and my book ‘Diana’s Nightmare’ out sells them all still to this day and its 22 years old,” said Hutchins. Diana has had a lasting legacy not only for her marriage and divorce with Charles and her personality but also her death. “She died at the height of not just her fame but her interest.”