When did Princess Diana die and how old was she?

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  • 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. With many people today 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 are set to attend a memorial for Diana to honour an important anniversary this year. 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.

    Princess Diana celebrating her 36th birthday

    Diana celebrating her 36th birthday (Credit: Getty)

    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.

    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?'”

    Princess Diana with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry at Thorpe Park

    Credit: Getty

    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.

    The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales follow the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997

    Credit: Getty

    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.

    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 sunken garden at Kensington Palace which honours Princess Diana's death 20 years on

    The Sunken Garden, a memorial for Diana, was unveiled in 2017 at Kensington Palace (Credit: Getty)

    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.

    Prior to the garden was the Diana memorial playground and memorial walk which opened in 2000.

    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.”