|Princess Diana |
Sixteen years ago, the world watched, enthralled, as Lady Diana Spencer, a
young and beautiful school teacher from Northampton, married the dashing heir to the British throne, Prince Charles. Pundits heralded a new age for the British Monarchy, long moribund in outdated traditions and populated by gray
and lifeless personages.
For several years, their predictions were correct. Princess Diana, with her aristocratic beauty and spunky approach to her role as the future queen of England, brought new life to the Monarchy. People around the world watched in delight as the young Princess attended to her official duties with a grace and style that stood in marked contrast to the formal, decorous approach of other members of the royal family. Overnight it seemed that the British Monarchy had been brought from a stiff and formal 19th century anachronism to a photogenic and accessible 20th century institution.
When the "perfect" marriage between Diana and Charles began to show some cracks, their conflicts were widely reported in the media. By the early 90's, a long anticipated separation was made public and in August, 1996 the world's most famous marriage ended in
While remaining a loving and supportive mother to her two sons,
William and Harry, Diana championed a number of charitable causes,
including AIDS awareness and homelessness. She focused attention on the worldwide menace of land mines.
Diana also spoke with
surprising candor about her own personal struggles with bulimia and suicide,
giving individuals struggling with these
issues a role model of openness and honesty. Princess Diana used her media popularity to bring attention to the needs of the forgotten and needy of the world.
On August 31, 1997, demand for pictures of Diana was at an all time high. A candid and revealing shot of Diana could fetch hundreds of thousands of
dollars from tabloid editors desperate to be able to splash the most
scandalous photos across the pages of their magazines. Predictably,
photographers went to great lengths to photograph Diana, following her
ceaselessly in pursuit of the one shot that might make them rich. The night of August 31, as Diana left the
Ritz hotel in Paris with her friend Dodi Al Fayed, she was pursued by
close to a dozen photographers on motorcycles. The chase ended in a disastrous accident, causing the deaths of Princess Diana, Dodi Al Fayed and their chauffeur.
Princess Diana will be remembered as a woman who was at once supremely regal and at the same time strikingly human.
To the millions who followed her charitable work, she was most certainly the
Queen of our hearts, and she will be terribly missed.