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  • Rachel Burchfield

Diana's funeral was 22 years ago today


Today, Friday, September 6, 2019, will mark the twenty-second anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral after her untimely and tragic death in a car accident. In Diana’s birthday tribute post, I already told my story of how I found out about her death. Now, today, you’ll hear from guest blogger Carla Hill about how she was affected. Also, if you don’t follow @theduchesscommentary on Instagram, now’s the time. Last weekend I posted 22 of my favorite Diana photos honoring the 22 years since she left us. I think they are stunning photos – check them out.

“It Was Unreal. It Was Surreal. How Could She Be Gone at 36?”

By Carla Hill

August 30, 1997 was a typical working mom’s Saturday night for me: sitting on the floor in front of the TV skimming a stack of magazines and newspapers, not giving my full attention to them or to the TV. That was until “breaking news” came on. Diana, Princess of Wales had been in an automobile accident in Paris. It was time to switch from whatever to CNN. They weren’t getting many confirmed details. We needed to be up for Sunday School and church in the morning, so I turned off the TV around 11. I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV as soon as the alarm went off. Diana had died.

It was unreal. It was surreal. How could she be gone at 36? Pop culture in general, and the Royal Family in particular, was a “girly” hobby for me in contrast with the male-dominated technical work I still do. I collected the People magazine special issues about “Shy Di.” I got up at 2 a.m. to watch the Royal Wedding in a 1981 world without VCRs and DVRs. This amused the men in the training class I was in that week. One gentleman I had only met the day before positioned himself between me and the instructor so I wouldn’t get caught napping as the day went on. I looked up the wedding music for future reference. I waited for Royal baby news. I hated when the fairy tale ended. I still can’t stand the sight of Duchess Camilla (sorry Rachel! Editor’s note: Nothing to be sorry about there. I struggle, too.). I was in awe of Diana’s second act as a humanitarian. I watched Will and Harry grow into men she would be proud of. I would have looked silly in many of Diana’s style choices, but to this day my right hand ring is a replica of the Diana and Kate engagement ring, set with my birthstone.

CREDIT: CARLA HILL, wearing her right hand ring modeled after Diana's (and now Kate's) engagement ring.

Longer term impact? The circumstances of her death taught some hard lessons. I try to be more discerning about celebrity news coverage. Paparazzi culture was bad then – social media and a camera in every pocket makes the situation worse now. I stick with the tried-and-true outlets even when their news seems limited. It’s better than giving the others clicks or ratings points.

One more thing…Remember that colleague and new friend who helped make sure the teacher didn’t see me dozing off after lunch on July 29, 1981? He knew to agree to Trumpet Voluntary as our wedding processional. He bought my oval amethyst and diamond ring. As the better baker in the family, he got up and made fresh scones for me to nibble on during Meghan and Harry’s wedding. Was Diana “the queen of people's hearts” she wished to be? She was for me! (And whether it’s the Royals, Disney, or Jimmy Choo, go for the guy who always tolerates, and occasionally enables, your hobby.)

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