Princess Diana’s tragic death in August 1997 was one of those truly world-stopping moments in our collective history. The People’s Princess was killed in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris (per Oprah Daily). She was just 36 years old.
The grief felt throughout the world was simply massive. So many fans of the royal family felt connected with Diana’s compassionate presence. Millions of people lined the streets of London mourning Diana on the day of her funeral. In addition, 2.5 billion people worldwide tuned in to watch the services (per The History Channel). Her funeral was held at Westminster Abbey after a four-mile procession that saw Prince Charles and Prince Philip accompanying Prince William and Prince Harry on the walk, which they also shared with Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer.
Following the public funeral services, Diana was laid to rest in a private ceremony with just a handful of family members.
Princess Diana is buried at her childhood home
Originally, the plan was for Princess Diana to be buried at the Spencer family vault at a church in Great Brington. In the time leading up to her funeral, Earl Charles Spencer decided to change that plan. He wanted Prince William and Prince Harry to be able to visit Diana’s grave whenever they wanted without privacy concerns. After seeing the public outpouring of mourning, they believed the public would be flocking to her grave for years to come (per BBC).
To assure her loved ones always had unfettered access, Spencer decided it was best for Diana to be buried at the family home, Althorp House. The area she was buried in is an ornamental lake known as The Oval, located within Althorp Park’s Pleasure Garden. There, you can find an arboretum where Diana and her loved ones, including her sons, had all planted trees.
Princess Diana was buried in a black woolen long-sleeved cocktail dress by Catherine Walker. She’d bought it just weeks before she died (via Parade). She was buried holding a rosary that was gifted to her by Mother Teresa (via Baltimore Sun).
There were other security concerns
Princess Diana’s brother was deeply concerned about security measures when it came to his nephews visiting their mother’s grave. He was also concerned about the legions of people who had conspiracy-type ideas about Diana. The isolated spot made it so intruders couldn’t possibly vandalize or stalk the grave and continue to victimize Diana in her time of peace.
As her little brother, Earl Charles Spencer felt fiercely protective of Diana’s legacy and privacy. “It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this — a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age,” he said in her eulogy (via Town & Country).
In 1998, Spencer revealed some of the reasoning behind the spot. He felt the water would “act as a buffer against the interventions of the insane and ghoulish, the thick mud presenting a further line of defense” (via The Sun). “We all agreed that, with its beauty and tranquility, this was the place for Diana to be.”
You can visit Althorp House in the summers
You can visit the Althorp House estate, located an hour and a half outside of London, during the summer when it is open to visitors. While guests can’t go and visit the Princess’ grave, they are able to leave messages and gifts at a memorial built across from it.
The memorial temple is decorated with a black-and-white marble cameo of Diana, with her name etched across the top (via Parade). It also featured a quote from the beloved princess: “Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life. A kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.”
Despite what is available to the public, Spencer has noted that there have been attempts to breach security and intruders caught attempting to visit Diana’s grave. In 2017 alone, there were four attempted break-ins (via Closer Weekly). “We’ve had four attempted break-ins towards her body in the last 20 years and I’m very glad we’ve seen all of them off,” Spencer told BBC Radio 4. “There are some odd people out there and keeping her right here is the safest place.”
One person has been called out for not visiting Diana's grave
Over the years, Prince Harry and Prince William have both opened up about their complicated feelings about their mother’s death. Both princes are believed to regularly visit Diana’s grave when their schedules allow. Harry’s even had flowers laid there since having moved to the United States, as recently as Mother’s Day (via Page Six).
In 2001, Earl Charles Spencer was asked if Prince Charles ever visits the gravesite. “Prince Charles has an open invitation, as he knows, to come to the memorial but he has yet to take up that invitation,” he told BBC Radio Five (via Daily Mail). When asked why he thought Prince Charles had not visited the site, Spencer replied, “Look at it from his point of view. It’s an ex-wife at the end of the day and maybe that’s how he views it. He recently said he wanted to draw a line under the whole episode and let Diana rest in peace and maybe he views him not going there as helping that process.”
It's unclear which royal spouses have been there
It was reported that Prince William first brought Kate Middleton to visit Diana’s grave before the two were married. “It was very important for William to take Kate to visit his mum just before their wedding day,” a source told The Daily Mirror (via Reuters). “Diana is a huge part of her boys’ everyday life and always will be. It is tragic that she won’t be there to see the wedding and that she never got to meet his bride.”
It was also significant because William proposed to Kate with Diana’s iconic sapphire engagement ring. “It’s very special to me,” William told reporters during their engagement interview. “It’s my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement and the fact we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
As for Prince Harry’s bride, Meghan Markle, there were reports the two were due to visit in 2019 with their newborn, Archie Harrison (via The Express). It’s unclear whether the trip happened, or whether Meghan had been there previously.
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