Where Were You When Princess Diana Died?

After seeing the Princess Diana film a couple of weeks ago, I found myself ruminating on her death, back in 1997.

It seems quite a long time ago, now, but I still remember as clearly as anything the moment that I found out she had died.  We’d been to Ashley’s business partner’s wedding on the Saturday (he’s since divorced, remarried and nearly divorced again!) and it had been rather a boozy do, and I’d ended up sleeping in the spare bedroom to get away from Ashley’s drunken snoring.

Ashley burst in, waking me up, sometime earlyish in the morning (probably 9 o’clock – this was pre-children) and exclaimed ‘Diana and Al-Dodi are dead!!’.

He’s never been good with names.  But weird that I remember exactly how he worded it, don’t you think?

I spent the day in front of the television, and most of the subsequent week as well, culminating in her funeral on the Saturday morning.

I realized at some point during that Sunday that my parents, who were on holiday in Spain, wouldn’t have any idea that it had happened, and I phoned them to tell them (pre-mobile days – they had a landline in the villa back then). Mum went and spent the rest of the day watching the news coverage in the local English bar, as I recall.

It really was the most extraordinary time, the public outpouring of grief and the way the whole country seemed to come together and unite.  It’s hard to explain the level of public feeling now.

I was working in Exeter at the time, quite close to the cathedral, and as that week went on, the carpet of flowers outside the doors swelled and swelled until it seemed to take over the almost the whole of Cathedral Green.  Queues to sign the book of condolence inside the Cathedral (and in many churches throughout Britain) were long and constant.

If I had to pick one snapshot of the whole thing that will be imprinted on my memory forever, it would be those two young boys walking so bravely and stoically behind their mother’s coffin, all the way from St James’s Palace to Westminster Abbey.  My heart broke for them.  She would have been so proud.

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18 thoughts on “Where Were You When Princess Diana Died?

  1. I was 8, I had got up early to watch kids tv and it was interrupted by a news bulletin, i remember going and waking my parents up and them not really believing me until they’d seem the news themselves

  2. We were in dominion republic on our 25th wedding anniversary and I was so shocked and upset and felt very much out of it. I set my alarm to wake up to see the funeral and felt so emotional watching it.

  3. We were staying with my brother and his wife in Yorkshire, my sister in law came into the bedroom to tell us. We drove back to Scotland in the afternoon, the whole country seemed subdued. We stopped for a cup of tea and talked to the people in the cafe about the dreadful news. I totally agree, William and Harry are princes to be proud of.

  4. I had just arrived at work for a flight to Dalaman (I was air crew then) and walked in to the crew room and saw her picture on the tv with the caption 1961-1997. I said ‘what’s happened’ and one of my crew said ‘haven’t you heard Fi ? Princess Diana’s died in a car crash’ My response was ‘she can’t have died’ It seems silly now but I just couldn’t understand how she could have died with armoured cars and bodyguards etc. Like you I remember exactly what was said. The flight was very subdued apart from one vocal knobhead who didn’t like her and made sure everyone knew it. Was glued to the telly the day of her funeral and will never forget it. The card with the flowers on top of the coffin which read ‘Mummy’ was a real choker and as you say those boys were so brave and dignified, how anyone could have been unmoved by it, is beyond me.

  5. I have a few tears just thinking about those boys. I refuse to go and see the film. She has died they need to leave her and the Princes alone.

    I was a work. I think the whole of the UK felt that lose.

    What will happen when the Queen passes…

    • Certainly won´t get worked up about that. She has had a very good life but Diana´s was cut short and never got to see her boys grow up.

      • Many many years ago could even be as much as 50 I can remember listening to a prediction on the radio by a guy who predicted world events and he said Charles wld never be King. Never forgotten it.

  6. I remember waking up on the Sunday morning and thinking I was imagining what I was hearing on the radio. I lived at my old house, was a single mum to three little girls, working in London and commuting everyday. I went to Kensington Palace and put flowers down.

  7. I was on my own at home (my partner was away overseas) and hadn’t put a TV or radio on until lunchtime (I think, if I remember correctly, there was a massive thunderstorm that morning which I was watching instead.) I remember not being able to get my head around the news and had to phone my Dad to double check I really had got the right end of the stick. I just couldn’t really believe that someone who was such a global figure, and who was a year younger than me, had died.

    The day of the funeral, I kept having to leave the room and go out into the back garden to cry (it was the sight of those flowers with ‘Mummy’ written on them that really did for me) as my partner couldn’t see what all the fuss was about and was watching the funeral under sufferance!!

    I wonder what her life would’ve been like now if she’d lived?

  8. I was woken by a call in the early hours saying she had heard that Dianna had been in an accident in France from a friend, I remember thinking oh no I hope she is ok,I drifted back to sleep. My youngest was 8 and he put the kids channel on when he got out of bed and came running up saying Mum you have to get up Dianna’s Dead, I sat all day in shock watching news reports and crying on and off, the saddest sight was the young Prince’s on the day of thier Mother’s funeral, the sea of flowers just went to show how much people loved Dianna, it seemed like she was just getting her life back on track and seemed so happy and she was taken, Dodi too. Such a shock and such a tragedy. x Dawn

  9. I remember it so well, sitting up in bed with our (then) only child (aged 1) trying to hear the news above his chatter! We knew someone important had died and actually assumed it was the Queen Mother until we managed to hear the coverage. I think everyone was in a state of shock for days, my most enduring memory is the wreath which had a hand written note saying “Mummy”. So sad for those boys.

  10. I was hoovering our bedroom carpet when Graham came in and told me he had just heard about the accident on the news. It was a very surreal moment.
    I could cry now thinking about her two boys walking behind the coffin. How they coped that day I will never know.
    Lisa x

  11. I’d been camping with some mates from uni. We got drunk the night before and got up late. On leaving the campsite I noticed the flag was lowered and the same in the nearby village. I remember saying to my mate ‘Oh the queen mother must have died or something’ because of the flags but we switch the radio on and realised it was Princess Diana.

    Seems so long ago now!

  12. I remember very clearly where I was when I heard the news of Diana’s car accident and later her death. I had been out for meal with a friend on the Saturday evening and got in very late. I lived alone in a small one bedroomed house (my first home) and soon as I got in I flicked the tv on and there was some late night show on. I popped into the kitchen to make a cup of tea while still listening to the programme when I heard them say they were going over to the news room for a report. I rushed back into the sitting room and heard the presenter say that Diana had been in a car accident in Paris and Dodi Fayed was dead. They kept showing the opening of the tunnel and all the flashing lights of the emergency services. They said Diana was injured and had been taken to hospital and I remember thinking how terrible, after all she had been through in the recent years with her divorce from Charles etc and now to lose her boyfriend in such a terrible way. I remember thinking”she will be devastated”. I sat there watching until around 3am and reports seemed to be implying she was stable so I went to bed.
    I woke around 8:30 and went down and put the tv on and saw the newsreader speaking and below him was a picture of Diana and it stated 1961 – 1997. I was completely stunned and knew straight away it was going to be something big.
    My parents were away on holiday and this was pre-mobile days. I just had to speak with someone and called one of my sisters. We were both devastated and after a while my other sister called. It felt like everyone needed to touch base with their loved ones after hearing the news as it felt so unreal.
    I went into town later to get a paper and everywhere seemed surreal and quiet. In my lifetime I think only 9/11 had a similar effect on the nation and the world.

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