LONDON, UK – A quarter of a century after her death at the age of just 36, Princess Diana remains a source of fascination for people around the world and her fate still casts a shadow over British royalty.
Diana died on August 31, 1997, when the limousine carrying her and her lover Dodi al-Fayed crashed into the Pont de L’Alma tunnel in Paris as it was speeding away from chasing paparazzi photographers on motorcycles. .
Her death plunged the monarchy into crisis, following the very public disintegration of her marriage to heir apparent Prince Charles, with its revelations of feuds, adultery and the misery she had felt in her royal role.
Millions around the world mourned the “people’s princess,” as then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Diana, who was one of the world’s most recognizable and photographed women.
Twenty-five years later, his charm shows little sign of wavering.
There has been “Spencer,” a movie about the tumultuous end of Carlos and Diana’s marriage; “The Princess,” a documentary by Oscar-nominated director Ed Perkins; while Netflix’s hit drama “The Crown” has focused on Diana in her recent series.
There have been books, countless newspaper articles, numerous television shows, recriminations for a controversial interview he gave to the BBC in 1995, and even “Diana, The Musical,” a short-lived, highly panned Broadway show.
“Diana still has an impact, documentaries are still being made about her, stories are being written about her, people are still intrigued by this woman,” said author Andrew Morton, whose 1992 biography first exposed the deep divisions in their marriage. and with whom she secretly cooperated.
“He just had charisma, he had an appeal that went beyond his actual nickname – he was an extraordinary human being,” Morton told Reuters.
For the royals themselves, Diana remains ubiquitous, especially her two sons, Princes William, 40, and Harry, 37, who have spoken out about the trauma her death caused and how it affected their mental health. during years.
They were just 15 and 12 years old when they walked slowly behind their mother’s coffin, past a throng of mourners, through the streets of London towards her funeral.
“Every day, we wish he was still with us,” William said when the two brothers unveiled a statue in his honor last year at Kensington Palace in central London, his former home.
“I feel his presence in almost everything I do now,” Prince Harry said in an interview on US television in April.
Prince Charles has slowly emerged from the shadow cast by his ex-wife’s death, and has now been married for 17 years to Camilla, the woman Diana blamed for the failure of their relationship. But, surveys show that the problem persists with some.
“I think there is still a generation of people who feel that she (Camilla) was to blame for the breakup of the fairy tale marriage,” Morton said.
The enduring fascination isn’t just with his life either, but also with the manner of his death.
A lengthy investigation concluded in 2008. Diana and al-Fayed were unlawfully killed by chauffeur Henri Paul’s extremely careless driving and paparazzi photographers chasing their limousine.
Al-Fayed’s father, Mohamed, claimed the murder was carried out by the British secret service on the orders of Queen Elizabeth’s late husband, Prince Philip.
A police investigation into whether she could have been murdered ruled out a number of conspiracy theories and determined that Paul was drunk and driving too fast.
But speculation that she was the victim of an assassination plot still lingers, with one of Diana’s former bodyguards making headlines this week by suggesting that British security officials may have inadvertently caused the accident.
Why the interest yet?
So why do Diana and her death generate so much interest?
“I think the only other time in my life where I really feel like time stopped was 9/11,” filmmaker Perkins told Reuters. “Diana’s death really was a moment where the whole world seemed to be focused on this singular event.”
He was 11 years old at the time and recalls the collective outpouring of emotion and the unprecedented dueling scenes.
“We as humans have been telling each other variations of the fairy tale myth for thousands and thousands of years. And all of a sudden this real-life fairy tale emerged,” he said.
“And this marriage, this fairy tale romance, came onto the public stage and gave a lot of people a beacon of hope, something that they really accepted and wanted to make it work. And I think a lot of people got emotionally invested in wanting that story to work. .”
In her 2010 biography, Blair wrote that her famous description of the “people’s princess” now seemed “cheesy” and “exaggerated”, but said that this was how Diana saw herself and she should be remembered.
“Was Diana, the queen of people’s hearts? Just look at the evidence,” Morton said. “The mountains of flowers, the fact that people mourned her probably more than members of her own family.” –Reuters