25 years without Princess Diana, her children remember her privately and Britons pay tribute

25 years ago, the world was shocked to learn of the death of Diana of Wales, named as the most photographed woman in the world and who broke the stigmas not only of British royalty, but of the entire world. This Wednesday, as every year, the British paid him various honors. For their part, her children decided to honor her privately and separately.

In the early hours of August 31, 1997, Princess Diana and her partner, Egyptian Dodi Al-Fayed, tried to escape a paparazzi siege as they left the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

En route, the car’s driver, Henry Paul, lost control and crashed fatally into a tunnel along the Seine River, north of the Eiffel Tower.

The crash caused the instant death of Al-Fayed and Paul, meanwhile Diana managed to reach the Pitier-Salpetriere hospital alive, where she was treated. However, despite all efforts, he breathed his last around 4 o’clock in the morning.

Trevor Rees-Jones, bodyguard of the “people’s princess”, was the sole survivor of the accident. His funeral was the most watched in history, with an estimated 2.5 million viewers.

Supporters leave pictures and flowers in memory of Princess Diana above the tunnel where she died in a car crash 25 years ago. © Sarah Maisonnier, Reuters

This Wednesday, August 31, 25 years after the tragedy, dozens of admirers brought flowers, photos and other tributes to the tunnel where the accident happened and to Kensington Palace, the princess’ former residence in London.

At the Spencer estate, where Diana was buried, the British flag was flown at half-mast. His brother Charles was responsible for paying tribute to the two and a half decades without the presence of one of the icons of the 20th century.

Her children remember her personally and separately

Five years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the Princess of Wales’ death, Henry of Sussex and William of Cambridge held their last public memorial service and spoke about their mother’s legacy, with no appearance expected this year.

As The Daily Telegraph reports, the brothers “have decided to draw a line at their public celebrations.” In July 2021, the children of the Queen of Hearts unveiled a statue at Kensington Palace to mark her 60th birthday.

File, Archive.  Princess Diana and her sons Prince William and Prince Harry spend their holidays at Dodi Al Fayed's home in Saint Tropez, France.
File, Archive. Princess Diana and her sons Prince William and Prince Harry spend their holidays at Dodi Al Fayed’s home in Saint Tropez, France. © AFP Patrick Herzog

In recent years, relations between the heirs to the throne have been strained. In 2020, Harry, along with his wife Meghan Markle, decided to leave the royal family to move to California, away from the monarchy.

Since then, the relationship between the two brothers has been marked by distance and shows a new dynamic in the royal family. For his part, William, 40, left London this summer to move to Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II’s residence, with his wife Kate and their three children.

William said at a recent polo match in the United States that he wanted this August 31 to be a day “filled with memories of his incredible work and a day to share my mother’s spirit with my family and my children, which I wish them is knew”.

File, Archive.  Princess Diana leaves the first AIDS bookstore in Paris, surrounded as always by the press.
File, Archive. Princess Diana leaves the first AIDS bookstore in Paris, surrounded as always by the press. © AFP, Vincent Amalve

Diana, an icon in life

The princess, who had an aristocratic background, was attractive to public opinion from a very young age. She was the bride of Prince Charles at a very young age, had the most watched wedding in world history, participated in controversial humanitarian causes and was a fashion icon.

The paparazzi followed her until her death. About 10 photographers were caught and 20 rolls of film were confiscated when they tried to photograph the princess during the incident in Paris.

File, Archive.  Diana, Princess of Wales, speaks to amputees, Tuesday, January 14, 1997, at the Neves Bendinha Orthopedic Workshop, on the outskirts of Luanda.  Sitting on Diana's lap is Sandra Tidjika, 13, who lost her left leg to a land mine while farming with her mother in Saurimo, eastern Angola, in 1994. File photo dated Jan. 14, 1994.
File, Archive. Diana, Princess of Wales, speaks to amputees, Tuesday, January 14, 1997, at the Neves Bendinha Orthopedic Workshop, on the outskirts of Luanda. Sitting on Diana’s lap is Sandra Tidjika, 13, who lost her left leg to a land mine while farming with her mother in Saurimo, eastern Angola, in 1994. File photo dated Jan. 14, 1994. © Joao Silva, AP

In addition, she was a regular on the cover of the most important newspapers and magazines of her time, and today her name is the inspiration for various series, literary novels, biographies and documentaries, being considered a representative of “pop culture”.

John Loughrey, a member of the Kensington Palace Group, said it was important to “keep his legacy alive” and “his memory” because he left “many legacies”.

For the British, Diana was responsible for breaking the distance that the royal family had become accustomed to with their “subjects”.

New revelation about Diana’s death

Recently, French doctor Frédéric Mailliez, the first doctor to arrive at the Lady Dee accident, recalled the moment and said he administered first aid to the victims without knowing who the occupants of the vehicle were.

Mailliez was not at work when he entered the Pont d’Alma road tunnel, a few minutes after the tragedy. He recalls walking up to the wreckage of the smoking black Mercedes-Benz, opening one of the doors and discovering a horrific scene.

Diana, Princess of Wales, right, and her companion Dodi Fayed.
Diana, Princess of Wales, right, and her companion Dodi Fayed. ©AP Patrick Ba

There were four people in the car, one of them Princess Diana, who was on her knees on the floor and needed immediate help, according to Mailliez.

“He was unconscious and had difficulty breathing initially. With my breathing bag (ie oxygen mask) I was breathing a little better. He got a little more energy back, but he couldn’t say anything.”

Shortly after finishing his work, the French doctor realized that the person he was treating was one of the most beloved people in the United Kingdom: Diana of Wales.

“It was a huge shock to learn that she was Princess Diana and that she had died. And right after that, I contacted myself and said to myself, “Did I do everything I could to save her? Did I do my job right?’ And yes, I couldn’t have done better.”

File, Archive.  Lady Diana poses at Buckingham Palace on July 29, 1981 after her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales, at St. Paul's Cathedral.
File, Archive. Lady Diana poses at Buckingham Palace on July 29, 1981 after her wedding to Charles, Prince of Wales, at St. Paul’s Cathedral. © AFP

Diana’s legacy for mental health

Lady Dee talks about a taboo subject of her time, mental health. During an interview given to Martin Bashir, a BBC journalist in 1995, the princess revealed that she had suffered from bulimia in the early years of her marriage to Carlos, and that she had tried to kill herself and had once thrown herself on the stairs while pregnant.

The media pressure Diana was subjected to, her ex-husband’s infidelities and the demands of her royal role caused the princess to suffer from major depression and she was sometimes caught crying, something unusual for a member of the monarchy.

His children Harry and Prince William have also spoken openly about the subject and recently talked about the problems they had in the past motivated by their mother’s death. However, they have also worked for the well-being of mental health in various campaigns and foundations that they support.

Lady Diana Spencer gets out of her car near her flat in London's Earls Court, circa November 1980.
Lady Diana Spencer gets out of her car near her flat in London’s Earls Court, circa November 1980. © AP file photo

Tessie Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Prize charity, said the princess’ most lasting legacy was her ability to “connect” with people.

“Her ability to connect with people through kindness and compassion is one of her most important legacies. She left a mark on all of our lives. (…) Diana, Princess of Wales, believed that young people have the power to change the world,” he added.

Diana undoubtedly made her mark on the world before and after, and despite her short 36 years of life, she left a legacy that will last forever.

With EFE, Reuters and local media

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