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Goodbye, England's Rose -- 16 Year Anniversary of Princess Diana's Death

Updated on July 2, 2013

The Indelible Memory

 Black Carolina sky, dimly lit by the hillside cafe's fog lamps, the engine of my car humming gently, the radio's song abruptly ended for an urgent news cast.  All sensation left my limbs - it was providence that I had just parked my car for a roadside break on our 17-hour journey to New York.  Princess Diana, dead? 

Candle in the Wind - Elton John

Global Shockwaves

I sat, incredulous at what I heard, dumbfounded at the depth of grief flowing from my heart. How could the loss of someone I had only peripherally observed bring such precise, focused bereavement? The crunch of gravel underneath the moving truck slowing beside my car interrupted my stupor. I don't know how long I sat in the black leather seats of my '96 Maxima, unseasonably cool air wafting gently through the open sunroof.

My 14 year old step sister sat silently as well. She was accompanying me for my drive across the country - I was relocating from South Georgia to upstate New York in search of a fresh start. My father and his wife and 9-year-old step-daughter were driving (thankfully, because Lord knows I wouldn't have known how to maneuver the monstrosity of a vehicle) the moving truck, and had been a few minutes behind us. My dad asked what was wrong, and initially thought I was joking when I told him the news -- not wanting it to be true -- a sentiment that bonded the world for weeks following.

News casts of the accident enraged our hearts at the incessant pursual of papparazzi into her newly found happiness. Accounts of cardiologists and medical teams massaging the Princess's heart in attempt to revive empassioned sympathy for their valiant, hopeful yet futile efforts. We wondered if Prince Charles regretted his poor candor towards his Princess Bride. We hoped the young Princes William and Henry would be permitted to follow her altruistic legacy.

Elton John's eulogic "Candle in the Wind" beautifully expressed the world's bereavement and emotion. As her casket journeyed from the cathedral to Lady Diana's final resting place, the path wove a thread through the crowds, uniting in grief millions of people from every demographic, economic status, race, country and bloodline -- all souls wrenched in loss for England's "golden child". Our hearts lamented the untimely loss of her life, the loss of a nurturing mother for her children, the loss of the hope she brought and the grace she embodied.

What Moved Us

Princess Diana was born to privilege, and with that came specific obligation. Yet, she embraced her servitude not with an obligatory aire, but with vigor, vision, valiance, and most importantly - grace.

Her humble response to marital struggles and her husband's betrayal - broadcast into our homes through the merciless coverage of media - stirred compassion and respect. She championed world understanding of the plight of AIDS victims through her philanthropic deeds- and we were moved with her compassion as she lovingly caressed an AIDS-refugee child during an era when AIDS victims were considered "untouchable". Her lifestyle afforded her the finest cuisine, yet she unprecedentedly endeavored to reconcile her children to the lifestyle of "everyday people" with weekly visits to a burger joint, and frequent volunteering at homeless soup kitchens. She dressed impeccably - yet was always clothed in honor and humility.

Prince William and Princess Kate

Prince William's choice in bride is a reflection of his mother's values.
Prince William's choice in bride is a reflection of his mother's values.

A Living Legacy

Princess Diana taught her children, and the world, to live above snobbery. Prince William's choices as a young adult reflect a world view guided by Princess Diana. He chose his life partner not according to the bloodflow of her heart, but because of the life and loveflow of her heart. He serves daily in his country's military.

The memory of Princess Diana inspires me, as the prophet Micah penned, "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." She will forever live in our hearts.

What About You?

Do you remember where you were when you first learned of Princess Diana's untimely death?

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I Welcome Your Comments!

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      Margaret 4 years ago

      I remember exactly where I was when I looked at the tv (volume was down & IT was

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      GoDawgs 4 years ago

      Hard to believe yesterday (July 1, 2013), she would have been 52. I wonder how different world politics would be had she lived?

    • breathe2travel profile image

      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Thank you, Milli, for reading and commenting. I think a writer has no greater joy than to know a reader has been touched by their writing.

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      Milli Thornton 5 years ago

      Such beautiful and moving writing. I felt your tribute to Diana in the passion of your word choices and the respectful tone of the mental images you've created within me as a reader.

      I do remember where I was: living at my mother's house after having moving from Australia to the USA. My mother watched every single bit of coverage on TV. Having followed Diana through women's magazines back in Australia, I was very familiar with her life as covered by the media so it did not feel peripheral to me at all. I am still saddened by her loss. Your Hub has left me all choked up.

      Thank you for writing this. You offer fresh, compelling writing on a topic that's been written about countless times before.

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      breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Graham (old albion) - Thank you for reading and for your encouraging words. :)

      Best regards~

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      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi breath2travel. Thank you for this wonderful hub. The shock you felt as you know was world wide. She was indeed an inspiration to millions around the world. Your research is excellent with a first class presentation.



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      breathe2travel 6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Thank you, Danette for reading and commenting. :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I was in school at the time and often was up late into the night/early morning hours working on papers or studying. I usually listened to NPR but that particular time I was listening to music. When I went to bed and got up the next morning, my husband was already up. He had the radio on and when I heard it, I was shocked. He thought I had already heard the news.

      As you say, she was a compassionate woman who had a lot to offer the world (besides her fashion sense) and suffered a tragic ending.

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      Jeff 6 years ago

      A great article on Princess Diana to help us remember what a great person she was both inside and out.