In the years since Diana’s death, I never shared my memories about the day. For the first time, I talk about it here.
I picked up my most recent copy of People magazine that morning and started to flip through it. Diana, of course, was on the cover. She was on the cover of just about everything each week. On this cover, her hair was shiny gold and Queen Mary’s emerald choker was sparkling on her neck.
I looked at the cover for the longest time and thought, “Something doesn’t seem right,” but I didn’t think much of it at the time. When I walked into the bathroom to get ready for my day, I had already forgotten my thought.
Then my mother popped her head in the doorway and said that Diana had been killed in a car crash in the early hours of the morning.
That was the weirdest moment I think I’ve ever had. I had known nothing of the events surrounding the princess’s demise as I picked up that magazine. Paris is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern U.S., and I had been soundly sleeping. Nothing in the news or the gossip rags came close to even hinting that there was any impending tragedy. Yet somehow, I had a bad feeling.
Strange, isn’t it?
My interest in monarchy had only just been peaked that year. August 31st, 1997 was only eight months prior to my launch of “Mandy’s British Royalty”. This seventeen-year-old American was about to see a royal funeral for the first time. It was the biggest event in Britain, and probably the biggest outpouring of emotion the nation had ever seen. My hero, the Queen, even broke rank to give Diana a little bow in remembrance. It was a huge, huge deal.
The music that played during the ceremony was haunting. It stuck with me. It was the performance of John Tavener’s Song for Athene that chilled and saddened me all at once. It filled Westminster Abbey as Diana’s coffin was marched down the aisle, the flowers on the casket shivering with each pallbearer’s step.
Poor Diana, I thought. I wasn’t her biggest fan, but I certainly didn’t want something like this to happen. Especially for the boys, Princes William and Harry. Even Charles, with whom Diana famously battled in the press and public. Even he looked so, so sad. The death of the Princess of Wales marked not only the end of a late-blooming friendship between Charles and Diana, but it was the end of an era, a time now simply a part of history.