Royal commentator Duncan Larcombe has said “mistakes were made” in the first few days following Princess Diana’s untimely death in the early hours of Sunday 31 August 1997.
While nobody could have foreseen the scale or the intensity of the public reaction, Diana’s sons, Princes William and Harry, found the response was bewildering, with the Duke of Cambridge later admitting he found the public’s grief “very peculiar”, especially as he and Harry – themselves in a “state of shock” – felt obliged not to cry.
Both princes have since questioned the decision to make them walk behind their mother’s coffin at her funeral, with William saying it was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done”.
Speaking to OK!, Duncan said: “You look back at that period and in those first few days, mistakes were definitely made.”
Harry agreed that it was too much for someone so young, saying, “I don’t think it would happen today.”
In addition to the public's grief, there was anger – at the paparazzi, for the part they had played in the crash that killed her – but also at the Queen, for her failure to react to the shocking news.
People were crying out for a statement, some words of comfort from Her Majesty – but none came. “Speak to us Ma’am,” cried the Daily Mirror’s front page, after four days of royal silence.
Her decision to remain at Balmoral, the Scottish royal residence, with the rest of the family, also enraged Diana’s fans.
Why, it was asked, hadn’t she returned to London where thousands had already flocked to grieve? And why did it take several days for her to agree to lower the Union Jack flag at Buckingham Palace, in acknowledgement of the princess’s passing?
“The Queen got it wrong, but it was because she wanted to protect William and Harry,” says Duncan. “She didn’t want her grandchildren to be exposed to what was happening outside Kensington Palace.”
William and Harry have since defended her actions, explaining that it was ”a very hard decision” for her to make. William said, “At the time, my grandmother wanted to protect her two grandsons, and my father as well.”
Diana had been a fixture in our lives for more than 15 years, her every move fed into our homes on TV and in newspapers. Many of us felt like we knew her.
“We were dealing with the death of the people’s princess,” adds Duncan. “Diana was genuinely adored by large swathes of the public, despite being a very divisive figure among royalists.”
Quotes taken from OK!'s Royal Collector's Edition on Diana's Life and Legacy, available in store now for £9.99 or to purchase online click here.
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