WEDNESDAY August 31 marked the 19th anniversary of Princess Diana’s untimely death. She was at the height of her fame, an instantly recognisable global celebrity and icon, when she died with her lover Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul, in a fiery car crash in a Paris tunnel as they were hounded by paparazzi.
Her sudden, violent death, as with so many icons throughout the years, instantly catapulted her from celebrity to something otherworldly, amid one of the greatest outbursts of public hysteria and sorrow ever seen, before she was swiftly forgotten as time marched on.
It’s symbolic of her mark on the world that the obligatory memorial rehash of her life story is largely redundant. Most Brits over 20 will be intimately familiar with the details, if only because it was impossible to avoid them in an era when the media fed on her every move.
Though her life and deeds are achingly unimportant to the vast majority of society, her legacy, like the Kennedys, has been impossibly elevated by the dramatic circus surrounding her early death.
Dodi’s father, Egyptian businessman and owner of Harrods Mohamed Al-Fayed, screamed conspiracy when his son and Diana were killed, claiming there was an organised effort behind their death, leading to the wild speculation that accompanies the sudden demise of any star.
Some 30 million Brits watched her September 6 funeral on television in a mass outburst of hysteria so pronounced that it had some commentators panicked over how quickly the public could be whipped up into madness.
The soundtrack was provided by Elton John and Diana Spencer became one of the first, and the last, great British celebrities to live and die in the glare of the world’s cameras.