Diana fans remember princess on 24th anniversary of her death

Twenty-four years have passed since Diana Princess of Wales died in a Paris car crash.

The princess – the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’s late mother – was just 36 was she was killed on August 31 1997.

Nearly a quarter of a century on from Diana’s shock death, the statue commissioned by William and Harry – whose rift has now been long documented – was finally unveiled last month.

The statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)© Provided by Evening Standard The statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Well-wishers are able to view the statue at Kensington Palace on Tuesday after Historic Royal Palaces made special arrangements to allow visitors access to the Cradle Walk around the Sunken Garden between 3pm to 5pm for the anniversary.

Due to the pandemic, the area is only usually accessible to the public from Wednesdays to Sundays.

William, the Duchess of Cambridge and their three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – are understood to be commemorating the anniversary privately.

Devoted fans of Diana make a pilgrimage to leave flowers and messages at the ornate Golden Gates of her former London home each year.

Prince Harry et al. standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: William and Harry visiting tributes at the Golden Gates in 2017 on the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA) (PA Archive)© Provided by Evening Standard William and Harry visiting tributes at the Golden Gates in 2017 on the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA) (PA Archive)

Nicknamed the People’s Princess for her caring, open approach, Diana was known for her devotion to William and Harry, the breakdown of her marriage to the Prince of Wales, her personal struggles, and her humanitarian charity work.

2021 saw the BBC write to the royal family to apologise for the circumstances surrounding Diana’s famous Panorama interview in 1995.

The princess’ brother Earl Spencer said he “draws a line” between the bombshell television appearance and her death two years later.

An inquiry found the BBC covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by journalist Martin Bashir to secure his headline-making world exclusive and that he faked bank statements.

Diana, Princess of Wales et al. sitting on a chair: Diana during her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir (BBC/PA) (PA Archive)© Provided by Evening Standard Diana during her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir (BBC/PA) (PA Archive)

The programme, in which Diana said there were “three of us” in her marriage and questioned Charles’ suitability as king, prompted the Queen to urge the Waleses to divorce.

William condemned the BBC in a statement saying the interview had fuelled his mother’s “fear, paranoia and isolation” in the final years of her life and damaged her relationship with the Prince of Wales.

Harry also hit out at the corporation, saying: “The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”

The princess and lover Dodi Fayed were killed when their Mercedes crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris as they were being pursued by the paparazzi.

Mr Fayed’s chauffeur Henri Paul was drunk and driving too fast.

William was 15 years old and Harry 12 at the time, and the brothers faced the harrowing task of walking through the streets of central London behind Diana’s funeral cortege in front of crowds of mourners.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles standing next to a man in a suit and tie: The day of Diana’s funeral (Adam Butler/PA) (PA Archive)© Provided by Evening Standard The day of Diana’s funeral (Adam Butler/PA) (PA Archive)

More than two decades on, the pair have a troubled relationship, with Harry, now living with the Duchess of Sussex in California, describing it is as “space”.

Their rift stretches back to before Harry and Meghan’s wedding, when Harry was apparently angered by what he perceived as his brother’s “snobbish” attitude to Meghan, after William questioned whether he should rush into things with the ex-Suits star.

The Sussexes later accused the royal family of racism in their Oprah interview and the institution of not helping Meghan when she had suicidal thoughts.

William was said to have been left “furious” that private family matters were brought into the public domain.

Diana, Princess of Wales et al. sitting at a table: Diana (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)© Provided by Evening Standard Diana (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

The anniversary this year coincides with the paperback release of the unauthorised biography Finding Freedom.

The book, in a new epilogue, said, among other claims, that several members of the royal family were understood to have been “quietly pleased” that Meghan stayed away from the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral because they “didn’t want a circus”.

Harry is set to publish his memoirs in 2022 – which will also be the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with the Windsors braced as he vows to write an “accurate and wholly truthful” account of his life.


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