TODAY marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.
She was 36 when she died in a car accident in a Paris tunnel as her driver Henri Paul fled paparazzi. Her companion Dodi Fayed, son of billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, and Paul also died in the crash.
Princess Diana visited Sussex on many occasions, making a name for herself everywhere and charming those she met.
On her first official visit in July 1985, she met children at a Red Cross adventure camp for youth with disabilities at Hindleap Warren in Forest Row.
In a diary entry from the time, then-President of Activenture camp Eileen Nicol said: “The Princess of Wales was charming. She has so much compassion for the children. She spoke to each of them.”
Diana met Body Shop founder Anita Roddick the following year at the shop’s headquarters in Littlehampton, with Anita showing the Princess some of the products.
In 1987, the Princess of Wales returned to Arundel Cathedral in Sussex to attend the wedding of her friend Edward Fitzalan-Howard, then Earl of Arundel, and his fiancée Georgina Gore.
After the Queen opened the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport in 1988, Diana listened to air traffic control dialogue during a visit to the control tower.
During a visit to Eastbourne in 1989, Diana spoke to residents of Eastbourne Disabled Housing Trust and also to swimmers at a swimming pool.
A cause close to Diana’s heart was AIDS, and she became a patron of the National AIDS Trust, which worked to destigmatize the disease at its peak.
After the opening of the International Family Congress at the Brighton Center in July 1990, which was stormed by a group of gay activists, Diana spoke to people infected with the virus at the Sussex Aids Center in Kemp Town later that day.
Diana’s last visit to the county before her untimely death was a cursory one, when she took the Gatwick Express train from Victoria with sons William and Harry in April 1997 as they prepared to fly to the Caribbean.
Born into British aristocracy, Diana was given the title Lady Diana Spencer in 1975 when her father inherited the title Earl Spencer.
She married Prince Charles in July 1981 and was given the official title Princess of Wales, which was still officially recognized after the marriage ended in 1996.
Her tragic death on August 31, 1997 occurred during a trip to Paris with Dodi Fayed, who she was dating at the time. The car they were being driven in lost control at the entrance of an underpass, struck a passing Fiat and collided head-on with a 65 mph pillar. The Princess of Wales died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the accident.
Her death sparked a wave of grief from people across the country and around the world, with more than a million bouquets of flowers being left at her London residence at Kensington Palace.
Churchgoers in Brighton left flowers at the altar of St Peter’s Church and many in the community broke down in tears as special prayers were said.
Speaking to The Argus, then-Head of Brighton and Hove Council Lord Bassam said: “It’s a terrible tragedy. I think the nation lost someone who had a strong social conscience.
“She was passionate about important issues like AIDS and brave enough to take them public.”
Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time of Diana’s death, described her as “the people’s princess”, a nickname still used today.
Meanwhile, hundreds of visitors to the Shoreham Airshow held a minute’s silence in honor of Diana on the day of her death, with flags lowered to half-mast in mourning.
An airshow attendee, Lynda Waterman of Dolphin Road in Shoreham, said at the time: “I was devastated this morning.
“I work nights and heard it on the radio when it was first announced. I thought it was a joke at first.
“I think the whole world will be lost without her. Your sons will be devastated like everyone else – I have two young sons myself.”
Diana’s funeral took place on September 6, with the Queen delivering a rare address to the nation the night before.
In the speech, the Queen paid tribute to Diana, saying: “She was an extraordinary and gifted person. In good times and bad, she never lost her ability to smile and laugh or inspire others with her warmth and kindness.
“I admired and respected her — for her energy and commitment to others, and especially her dedication to both of her boys.”
Speaking recently about Diana, Prince Harry said: “There hasn’t been a day in the last two and a half decades that I haven’t thought about the mark she has left not just on me and my brother but on all of our lives. ”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20846562.princess-diana-remembered-25-years-death/?ref=rss Princess Diana remembered 25 years after her death