| Princess Diana
London, Aug. 29 (Reuters): It is five years since Princess Diana, the queen of Britons’ hearts, died in a bizarre and brutal accident in a Paris road tunnel.
But the legacy of change her death forced onto Britain’s until now aloof royal family, and a continuing media obsession with her, her handsome prince sons, her ex-husband’s lover and revelations by her staff, ensure she is far from forgotten.
Just as September 11, 2001, is a date permanently branded on the memories of people the world over, so August 31, 1997, is one Britons define as the most memorable in British history, according to a poll released last week. And while this year’s anniversary has no official ceremonies to mark it, Diana’s former staff and friends are — as so often before — making sure it does not pass unnoticed.
The latest revelations about a princess who dominated tabloid headlines in life and continues to do so in death come in a tell-all book by a former bodyguard Ken Wharfe.
His book, Diana: Closely Guarded Secret was well timed to hit the shops this week and provide Diana-hungry newspaper editors with titillating tales of the time the princess allowed Wharfe to see her naked, or another time when she leapt off a balcony to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi photographers.
Wharfe’s book is reported to have made the young princes William and Harry “incandescent” with rage.
But since Wharfe is only the latest in a string of former Diana staff to spill her private details into the public arena, intrusion into their family’s affairs is something the boys are getting used to.
For some it is in the uncanny resemblance of Prince William, who is second in line to the throne after his father Charles, and in the shyness of his younger brother Harry that Diana’s legacy is so strong.
But for the majority of the British public, it is the eye-opening shift she prompted in the public behaviour of the royal family. “One of Diana’s greater legacies to her sons and their successors is that she has made many things more acceptable in a royal context, and shown the old guard at Buckingham Palace that in fact a lot of stuff is wanted by the people as a whole,” Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, said.
And this year more than any other since the “People’s Princess” died, the royals have had the chance to show the human face they seemed so drastically to lack when news first broke of Diana’s fatal car crash in Paris.
In 1997, it took five days of an unprecedented outpouring of public grief before Queen Elizabeth, Diana’s ex-mother-in-law, was apparently reluctantly persuaded to make a public address about the death, and praise the princess herself.
The difference could not have been greater when the queen’s sister Princess Margaret died in February this year and when the Queen Mother — long adored by the nation — died at the grand age of 101 the following month.