With a new statue commemorating the late royal set to be unveiled in July, many are wondering when did Princess Diana die and how long has it been since her passing?
The death of the Princess of Wales was an event that shocked and saddened millions across the globe. Many people today are still able to recall where they were when they first heard the heartbreaking news.
Though Diana was born a non-royal, the princess came to be one of the most iconic figures of the institution shortly after her wedding to Prince Charles. Earning a place in the nation’s hearts for her compassion and commitment to promoting charitable causes.
Whilst her life was tragically cut short, her influence and legacy lives on in her two sons today – Prince William and Prince Harry – who also commissioned the statue of Princess Diana due to be unveiled. We look back at her untimely death and the current memorials that pay tribute to the royal trailblazer.
When did Princess Diana die and how old was she?
Diana, Princess of Wales died at 4:57 am on 31 August 1997. The princess was 36-years-old at the time of her death.
The mum-of-two passed away from internal bleeding and other injuries sustained during a car crash in Paris.
Diana was travelling with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in a Mercedes Benz W140 driven by Henri Paul. The couple had left a late dinner at the Ritz Hotel and were heading back to Dodi’s Paris residence.
Just after midnight, their car crashed inside the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in the French capital. It is understood that the vehicle was being chased by paparazzi at the time.
Dodi and driver Henri were pronounced dead at the scene, whilst Diana was said to still be alive and was taken to the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital for immediate treatment.
Sadly, the princess was never able to regain consciousness and died a few hours later.
The only surviving member of the incident was Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones who was the only passenger wearing a seat belt.
An inquest into the incident was conducted in London in 2008. It found that Diana had been unlawfully killed and blamed the crash on the grossly negligent driving of the driver Paul and the paparazzi who were chasing the car.
How old were Prince William and Prince Harry when Diana died?
Prince William was 15-years-old when Diana died. Whilst Prince Harry was 12, with the car crash taking place just 15 days before his 13th birthday.
At the time of their mother’s death, the two princes were on holiday with the Queen and their father at Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s Scottish residence.
Both William and Harry have openly discussed the pain and difficulties they’ve experienced growing up without a mother.
Prince Harry most recently penned his feelings in an emotional forward for a children’s book intended for bereaved children.
“When I was a young boy I lost my mum. At the time I didn’t want to believe it or accept it, and it left a huge hole inside of me,” he wrote. “I know how you feel, and I want to assure you that over time that hole will be filled with so much love and support.
“We all cope with loss in a different way, but when a parent goes to heaven, I was told their spirit, their love and the memories of them do not. They are always with you and you can hold onto them forever. I find this to be true.”
Prince William also opened up on his immediate feelings after learning of his mother’s death:
“I remember just feeling completely numb, disorientated, dizzy,” William told the BBC in a 2017 documentary. “You feel very, very confused. And you keep asking yourself, ‘Why me?’ All the time, ‘Why? What have I done? Why? Why has this happened to us?'”
The Duke of Cambridge said that he was only thankful that at the time “there were no smartphones” which allowed the brothers to have “the privacy to mourn and collect our thoughts”. “We had no idea that the reaction to her death would be quite so huge,” he added.
When was Princess Diana’s funeral?
Princess Diana’s funeral took place on Saturday 6 September, 1997 at Westminster Abbey.
Her coffin was transported from Kensington Palace to the Abbey. Following behind in the procession were her two boys, Prince Charles, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer and Prince Philip.
Opening up in his new mental health series with Oprah, Prince Harry recalled his ‘out of body’ experience at his mother’s funeral.
“The thing I remember most was the sound of the horses’ hooves going along the Mall. By this point both of us [him and William] were in shock,” he said.
“It was like I was outside of my body, I’m just walking along, doing what was expected of me, showing one tenth of the emotion that everyone was showing.”
A clip of Princess Diana’s funeral appeared in the new documentary, showing the grief-stricken 12-year-old as he walked behind Diana’s coffin.
Diana’s funeral was aired on British television, attracting an audience of 32.1million viewers. In the days surrounding her death thousands of flowers and memorials were laid outside Buckingham Palace honouring the late princess.
Where is Princess Diana buried?
Princess Diana is buried on a small island at Althorp Park, Northamptonshire. This is the home of the Spencer family.
The estate was bought in 1508 by John Spencer and Diana is said to have loved the grounds and the house.
Her body is buried on the island, which is next to an ornamental lake known as The Oval, within Althorp Park’s Pleasure Garden. The area is surrounded by trees planted by Prince William, Prince Harry and even Diana herself.
The original plan was for Diana to be laid to rest at the nearby Great Brington church. Several Spencer family members including Diana’s father are buried here in the Spencer Family Vault. However this plan was later abandoned, with the family concerned about the safety and security of her grave. They also worried that the local church and Brington would be overwhelmed by the number of visitors wanting to see the late Princess’ grave.
Whilst Diana did have a public funeral, her burial was a private affair with family members only.
Can you visit Princess Diana’s grave?
Yes, you can visit Althorp Park. The family estate is located an hour and a half outside of London.
Whilst Diana’s grave on the island is not accessible to the public, they can view it from a distance and leave flowers at a nearby memorial.
The memorial temple features a black-and-white marble plaque of Diana, with her name engraved across the top.
It also bears a Princess Diana quote which reads: “Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life. A kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.”
Where are the official Princess Diana memorials in the UK?
There are four official Princess Diana memorials in London: the Sunken Garden, a memorial fountain, a memorial walk and a memorial playground. They are all open to the public and free to visit.
In 2017, Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace.
The garden, constructed in 1908, was completely redesigned to honour Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death.
The garden is filled with white flowers, including Diana’s favourite forget-me-not flowers. The chosen colour was inspired by Princess Diana’s most iconic dresses and the famous Mario Testino photos of her.
The £1.7 million playground is situated in Kensington Gardens, near Kensington Palace where the princess used to live.
Whilst the memorial walk is a 7-mile walking trail in central London dedicated to Diana and the places she was associated with when alive. The five sites include Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St James’s Palace and Spencer House.
The Princess of Wales memorial fountain is found in Hyde Park. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in July 2004 and marked the first time the Windsors and Spencers (Diana’s family) had come together in seven years.
Where is the new Princess Diana statue going to be and when will it be unveiled?
A new Princess Diana statue in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace will be unveiled by both brothers on 1 July 2021.
Harry and William announced their plans for a specially commissioned statue in 2017 and approved the final statue designs in April 2021.
In a statement about the statue, the brothers said that the memorial would be unveiled this July “on what would have been her 60th Birthday.”
They also revealed that Ian Rank-Broadley was the chosen sculptor to design the feature.
“Ian is an extremely gifted sculptor and we know that he will create a fitting and lasting tribute to our mother,” the princes said. “We look forward to unveiling the statue, which will allow all those who visit Kensington Palace to remember and celebrate her life and legacy.”