By Debbie Emery – Radar Reporter
It is hard to believe that it is 15 years since Princess Diana died in a tragic car crash in Paris, and the anniversary of her death has prompted an outpouring of tributes to the beloved royal across the world.
The date August 31, 1997, has been compared to the assassination of JFK decades before because everyone remembers where they were when they heard the devastating news that the ‘People’s Princess’ was killed when the Mercedes she was traveling in with boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed plowed into a pillar in the Alma Tunnel.
The images of young Prince William and Harry, who were just boys when they lost their beloved mother, somberly walking alongside her coffin at the funeral at Westminster Abbey broke the hearts of everyone who saw it.
On Friday, tourists in France prayed in front of the Flame of Liberty monument to Diana that was erected above the tunnel’s crash site, where countless flowers, photos and messages have been laid in her honor.
Back in England, the gates of her former home, Kensington Palace, were also buried under a mass of bouquets, photos and British flags. The palace is now home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Prince William and Kate Middleton, but the young royals are expected to stay away from the public eye on the anniversary and remember Diana in private as there is no official ceremony planned.
Born Diana Spencer on July 1, 1961, to an English aristocratic family with royal ancestry, the beautiful blonde was thrust into the public eye while working as a kindergarten teacher when she became engaged to Prince Charles, the future King who was 13 years her senior.
What began with a fairytale royal wedding on July 29, 1981 that was watched by millions quickly spiraled into a dysfunctional relationship for the mismatched pair. The births of sons William and Harry couldn’t mend the deep rift caused by Charles’ ongoing love for former girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles, and Di’s rumored relationship with riding instructor James Hewitt.
Diana and Charles’ subsequent separation rocked England to its core and was announced in a public statement by Prime Minister John Major in the House Of Commons. In a ground-breaking interview after the split, Diana told Panorama‘s Martin Bashir that the relationship was doomed because: “There were three of us in this marriage.”
Upon the advice of Queen Elizabeth II, the couple was officially divorced on August 28, 1996.
Along with dedicating her time to charity work including traveling to Bosnia to visit land mine victims shortly before her death, Diana began a relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods owner, Mohammed Al Fayed.
The couple was on a romantic getaway to Paris following a nine-day yacht vacation on the French Riveria at the time of their deaths.