It has been almost 21 years, since Diana died in a car crash. The car crash was brutal, so much that it took away people’s princess. The world mourned.
The Queen stood solemnly in her dining room, crowds of mourners were visible from the balcony behind her.
It was 6 pm on Friday September 5, 1997 and finally, a week after Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris, Her Majesty had broken her silence to address a nation in sorrow and increasing anger at her absence.
Queen Elizabeth’s speech read as:-
“What I say to you now, as your Queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart. First, I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being”.
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“In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile, nor to inspire others with her passion and kindness. I must admit, I have learned many things from her. I admired and respected her, for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys”.
“This week at Balmoral, we have all been trying to help William and Harry. Helping them come to terms with the devastating loss that they and the rest of us are still suffering”.
“No one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one, believe that there are many lessons to be drawn from her life”.
It was an emotional speech for Queen Elizabeth. And, a concession that she had misjudged the mood of the public.
The news of Princess Diana’s death broke in the early hours of Sunday, 31 August. She was being driven at high speed in a Mercedes from the Ritz Hotel, when the car crashed into a pillar. Diana, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul, all died in the crash. Her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived.
The grief and sorrow that swept over Great Britain was unlike anything that had been seen before.
Highlighting the nation’s deep sorrow and traumatised state, then Prime Minister, Tony Blair made a famous speech outside his local church. He said:-
“She was the people’s princess. That’s how she will stay and how she will remain in our hearts and in our memories forever”. That evening, Prince Charles landed at RAF Northolt, on a flight carrying Diana’s body home.
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That time, the royal family was on its traditional summer holiday at Balmoral. They decided to stay there to protect Prince William and Prince Harry in their grieving.
Within 2-3 days, the gates of Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace were obscured by a carpet of bouquets, teddies, candles, poems and drawings. It was estimated to be million bouquets that were laid outside Kensington Palace.
Nation sobbed and strangers hugged as mourners felt compelled to make a pilgrimage to Hyde Park.