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The Day Diana Died: Royal Central shares their memories

Saturday in Chicago by Cindy Stockman

It was early Saturday evening and I tuned into NPR (National Public Radio) to catch the BBC news. What I thought was a typical evening of listening to the news before heading out to dinner proved to be wrong. It was Sunday morning in Paris and reports were coming in that Diana, Princess of Wales had been in a car accident. The reports were frenetic and the information seemed unclear.

I decided to turn the television on to see what happened and to try to make sense of the numerous reports. The reports varied. Some claimed Diana to be killed instantly; other said she was at hospital. I decided to stay in for the evening to watch the coverage until someone presented an accurate story.

It was late in the evening when the American station ABC reported that Diana had died. I tuned back to NPR on the radio to see if BBC reported the same, sadly they did.

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I suppose one can say this was my John F. Kennedy moment that my parents had. “Where were you the Day Diana died?” This became the question similar to what they were asked: “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”

I remained transfixed to the television throughout the night. I waited to hear the familiar thud of the newspapers hitting the door outside at 6 am and quickly went to grab my New York Times and Chicago Tribune. Emblazoned across the front were the words: Diana, death, Paris, tragedy and a whole host of others I cannot recall.

So I ask now: “Where were you when Diana, Princess of Wales died?”

Sunday in Bath by Jessica Hope

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Although I was only a toddler when Diana died, I do have some blurred memories of the confusion and sadness that the people around me felt at the time. Recently, I asked my mother about how she heard about Diana’s death and she recalled the events of that memorable day to me.

Waking up to the radio on a Sunday morning, my mother could hear reporters discussing the death of someone prominent in the news. It was only shortly after that they revealed Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris. My mother, who has always been a supporter of Diana’s work and the Royal family, was naturally shocked and deeply saddened. She quickly turned on the television and watched the news coming in on all of the channels.

After going to work later that morning, everyone couldn’t stop discussing what they had learned on the news in the early hours of Sunday. What my mother can clearly remember from this day is looking out of the window in her office during the afternoon and finding that the whole sky had filled with thick grey clouds and turned the darkest colour possible. Call it a sign, pathetic fallacy or simply a coincidence, but this moment has stuck with her ever since as it simply summed up the sadness everyone around her felt that day.

After returning home from work, the television channels were constant, back-to-back reporting of the events in Paris and my family didn’t stop watching the news all evening. The feelings my mother felt on that day have stuck with her since, even 17 years on, and her sadness over Diana’s death has passed onto me.

Sunday in London by Ellen Couzens

I was 13 when Diana died, only a few months older than Prince Harry. I grew up in a royalist household so was always very aware of and interested in the Royal Family. Diana was constantly in the news – I’m not sure that people who don’t remember the 1980s and 1990s in Britain can have any idea of how often Diana’s picture was in the papers and magazines and on the television. Nothing today is comparable.

So when I woke up on that grey, Sunday morning in 1997, turned on my radio and sat in bed listening, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. For a start, there was constant dreary, depressing music on my favourite pop radio station. I can hear it in my head even now. Every 15 minutes or so, it was broken by a solemn newsreader announcing that overnight, Diana had died in a car crash in Paris. I thought it was a joke. I even wondered for a few seconds how anyone could think a joke like that was funny. Then I realised it was real.

I went downstairs and into the sitting room where my parents were watching the news. In the days before we had 24-hour rolling news channels, it had to be a big event for the news to be on television constantly. I just remember feeling numb, very sad, and glued to the television, although everything had happened whilst I had been asleep and there wasn’t any new news being said.

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Eventually, we, as a family decided that we should carry on with our plans for that day, which had been to go to Greenwich and take a boat trip along the Thames. I can remember now, as if it was just yesterday, being on that boat, and seeing all the flags on buildings in London at half-mast, and the Captain saying over the tannoy “Thank you to everyone for being with us on this sad, sad day.” It was eerie, the grey sky, the silence and the sadness around everyone.

Photo Credits: das_sabrinchen, Pulseman and Maxwell Hamilton via photopin cc

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