Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997)
It is one of those events whose impact ensures you never forget where you were when you heard. Amazingly enough, now 20 years have gone by since the untimely death of Diana, the People’s Princess, in that fateful car crash in Paris’s Alma Tunnel. August 27, 1997. It hardly seems possible that an entire younger generation now have no memories of the engaging Princess.
The Royal wedding of 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer to 31-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales, at St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 29, 1981, ranked high as the social event of the 20th century—watched by 750 million people around the globe. From her engagement announcement, Diana captivated public attention, and that never changed.
The trappings of Royalty through the ages had depended upon the utter aloofness, the “otherness” of Royal persons. Through scandal, pain, internecine strife and social heterodoxy, the workings of the Monarchy and the Royal family were always kept behind the scenes. Discretion was all. Princess Diana opened the curtains and the windows. She warmly embraced charitable causes and the people they championed, from Great Ormond Street children’s hospital to the campaign to ban landmines. She was patron or president of dozens of charities, including British Red Cross Youth, the Royal School for the Blind and the Welsh National Opera.
Diana’s legacy lies in the impact she had upon the way the British Monarchy was seen and perceived by the public—not only in UK, but across the Commonwealth and across the world. In a word, she humanized it.
Behind the scenes, her marriage to Prince Charles was tumultuous from the beginning, and, in truth, they proved not well suited for each other. Though the marriage ended in failure, its fruit was Royal Princes William and Harry. Princess Diana would be proud of her sons today and the ways in which they have carried on her hands-on “human” face. Certainly, those who recall Diana can see her reflection in both of them.
On her tragic passing in 1997, Diana was mourned by the British nation and the world with an unprecedented outpouring of national grief. Flowers in memory blanketed the gates in front of Kensington Palace and filled Parliament Square for her funeral at Westminster Abbey. We can still hear Elton John singing “Candle in the Wind.”
Diana, Princess of Wales is buried on an island in a small pond on Althorp, the Spenser family estate in Northamptonshire. A memorial alcove to the People’s Princess stands at the foot of the pond.
Prince Philip Retires—at 95
AFTER 70 YEARS of loyal, unfailing service to his wife, the Queen and the British people, the Duke of Edinburgh has announced that as of this autumn he will retire from public engagements. The Prince’s step-down comes as the Royal Couple prepare to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in November. In addition to accompanying the Queen around the world, since 1947 he has carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements, given 5,000 speeches and been associated with some 800 charities. Prince Philip’s retirement from public life comes with the full support of Her Majesty and has prompted an outpouring of tributes.
Summer Events Not to Miss
Buckingham Palace Summer Opening
July 22–August 31
It’s the only time of year to get behind the palace gates into Her Majesty’s London royal residence and nerve center of the monarchy.
The Garlic Festival
August 19, 20
The Isle of Wight draws 25,000 people each year to sample garlic beer, candy, ice cream and much more amid music and entertainment.
Notting Hill Carnival
August 27, 28
Caribbean music, elaborate costumes, island foods and parades fill the streets of London’s Nothing Hill during the biggest street party in Europe.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
Europe’s largest hot-air balloon event sees more than 150 colorful balloons reach for the sky at dusk and dawn.
Jane Austen Festival
Bath is the perfect venue for this annual gathering of Jane Austen fans and Regency reenactors from around the world.
Fancy a Call at the Pub?
VISIT BRITAIN’S latest “Countryside Is Great” guide raves over these historic pubs that are really deep in the countryside for a memorable stay, meal or drink.
The Griffin Inn, Llyswen, Wales. A fairy-tale pub in a mid-Wales village. thegriffininnllyswen.com
Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon, Hampshire. Dawdle on the South Downs Way. yeoldegeorgeinn.net
The Spinners Arms, Cummersdale, Cumbria. After a day of countryside rambles. golakes.co.uk
The Clachaig Inn, Glen Coe, Scotland. Legendary atmosphere in the heart of the Higlands. clachaig.com
The Drovers Inn, Loch Lomond, Scotland. Three hundred years on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. droversinn.co.uk
Dateline by the Numbers
3 Percentage of the world’s CEO millionaires who live in London.
42 Anglican Cathedrals in the Association of English Cathedrals.
216 The number of public engagements Prince Philip carried out in 2016.
11,072 Miles of coastline encircling mainland Great Britain.
24,000 Weight in tons of the Brent Delta oil rig being dismantled in Hartlepool.