London, Aug 31 (AFP/APP): Flowers and other tributes were laid on Wednesday at princess Diana’s former London home and above the Paris road tunnel where she lost her life, to mark the 25th anniversary of her death.
The former Lady Diana Spencer, whose fairy tale marriage to Prince Charles captivated the world until it publicly unravelled with infidelity and divorce, died in a car crash in the French capital on August 31, 1997.
A trickle of well-wishers left flowers, flags and photographs for the self-styled “queen of people’s hearts” at the gates of Kensington Palace, and at the Place Diana, above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
At the Spencer family home, Althorp House, where Diana is buried in a lead-lined coffin on a secluded island on the estate, her brother Charles Spencer lowered the Union Jack to half mast.
“She was a global celebrity,” retired camera operator Claude Gautier, 79, who came to pay his respects at the makeshift memorial in Paris, told AFP.
“She was classy, sporty, elegant. Everyone’s sad today. My flowers for her are on the inside,” he said, touching the badge of his England football shirt.
“The flowers here will wilt but mine will never die.”
“It makes the hairs on my skin stand on end to think that she died underneath us,” added German tourist Ulrike Plank, 64, from Munich.
“We’re really missing someone like her today. If you look around the world, there’s no one like her.”
- Legacy –
Diana, who was just 36 when she died, remains widely revered as a fashion icon and for having cut through stuffy royal convention, particularly after her very public divorce.
She was also praised for charity work highlighting the scourge of landmines and encouraging a change in attitudes to people with HIV/AIDS.
In a sign of the enduring fascination with the royal, last weekend a sporty Ford Escort she once owned was sold for £737,000 ($864,000) at auction.
Her marital troubles will also feature in the latest series of the hit Netflix drama “The Crown” later this year.
Joe Little, managing editor at Majesty Magazine, said Diana had influenced her sons, princes William and Harry, to be less formal than traditional royals.
“They are much more ‘touchy feely’ than they ever would have been,” he said, pointing to William’s hugs for England’s women footballers after their Euro 2022 victory this month.
“William can see there is no need for much of the formality in royal life that existed when his father was of a similar age.”
Last week, Harry, who has admitted to mental health struggles because of his mother’s death, said he would “share the spirit of my mum with my family, with my children, who I wished could have met her”.
“Every day I hope to do her proud,” he told a fundraising dinner in the United States for his Sentebale charity, which supports young people in Africa with HIV.
“I want it to be a day filled with memories of her incredible work and love for the way she did it,” he added.