ON AUGUST 31, just 18 years ago, the devastating news shot around the world announcing the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car crash in a Paris tunnel.
The international grief was palpable, but was nothing compared to the outpouring of respect and love as her body was transferred from London following the funeral service held at Westminster Abbey, for burial on an island at her ancestral home in Althorp Park.
Television channels in the UK cancelled their usual programming and played funereal music. There was an air of almost hysteria as crowds of grieving people lined the streets as the funeral procession – which included her two young sons – passed by and so many flowers were thrown, covering the hearse like a thick blanket of pastel coloured snow.
Elton John rewrote some of the words of Bernie Taupin’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ and played it at the funeral with the words, “Goodbye England’s rose, may you ever grow in our hearts,” becoming instantly recognisable as the tribute that was intended. The song went on to become the biggest selling single ever in both the UK and US main charts. It has never been performed again live and all global proceeds were donated to her charities worldwide.
Diana was the first English woman in 300 years to marry a Prince of Wales, and her sadly short life was full of many other firsts. She continues to be mourned, but the memories that people hold of her will ensure that she is never forgotten.