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The Day Diana Died

posted by Ellen Leventry

diana_idol.jpgAs a child, I remember hearing adults talk about the day JFK was shot, recounting with vivid detail where they were when they heard the news. I knew, even as a child, that the death of the president had been a historic tagedy, but sensed that there was an emotional resonance I couldn’t connect with; a personal aspect that I couldn’t quite grasp. Later, I learned that many people of that generation shared a common sorrow over idealism and hope they felt died that day in Dallas. And yet, it seemed that my generation had never experienced such a visceral, unifying, moment.
Other than distinctly recalling laying on my living room’s shag carpet watching television when I heard about the U.S. bombing of Libya in 1986, I don’t remember where I was during many of the great breaking news stories of the last three decades. But I can describe to you in exhaustive detail where I was the night Diana died, though I won’t. Simply put, I was staying at a friend’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, watching “Saturday Night Live” (Spice Girls were the guests that night).
At that point, Diana had been rushed to the hospital and had not yet passed away, but I still felt this immense despondency. I was never a devoted royals watcher, so the reaction confused me. But I stood vigil at the television, taking in every iota of information. This is, I thought to myself, my JFK moment.


Certainly, 9/11 is this generation’s most poignant JFK moment, but I think for many 30-something women, Diana’s death was the first moment that historical events collided with personal emotion. Diana was completely relatable: She had self-esteem issues; she had an ogre-ish mother-in-law; she was devoted to her children and her charitable causes; she just wanted to move on from a nasty divorce. Of course, she was no saint–understanding how to precisely manipulate the media–although some have painted her as one.
But, at that moment, none of that mattered. To many, she was the princess who helped the poor, the graceful swan in a family of stand-offish ducklings, a fiercely protective mother cub. To me, she was an unhappy woman, who had finally found love, only to be cut down. It just wasn’t fair.
For Diana to die in what finally looked to be a happy relationship after all those years of suffering evoked a tremendous amount of pathos in many people. She appealed to the romantic in all of us; hoping that there was a happily ever after out there for us. A New York Times article reported that women all over New York City were suddenly comparing their own lives to hers at the therapist’s office (inattentive husband, unsatisfactory new relationships, mean mother-in-law). In a similar way that many lost hope after JFK’s assassination, so too did many find the death of Diana devastating.
Ten years has passed and even though there is constant coverage of Princes William and Harry, the days of Diana and her fabulous gowns seem so far away. But I can still recall where I was and what I felt the night Diana died.



  • alexandra

    SHE EPITOMIZE THE ESSENCE OF A GRACIOUS, LOVING GIVING BUT MOST
    MISUNDERSTOOD WOMAN OF HER TIME
    MAY HER SOUL FOREVER REST IN PEACE.
    SHE WAS A RARE BREED IN A COLD UNCARING TIME.

  • pattyg

    She was a beautiful, shy young girl who had to grow up in a hurry. She never had a chance to be carefree, date, party, she married that drip and he used and betrayed her.I watched all the programs on her all week it made me cry.What a life, and when she had a chance to be happy, it all ended, tragically. I think she was murdered. That was no accident.May you rest in peace beautiful lady.

  • Wendy

    I soo totally agree with patty. I cried as I sat and listened to the announcement on tv that she had died in a car accident. I watched all of the recent shows myself about her life and death. I too believe she was murdered. It was just wayy too convienient for the royals to blame the paparazzi. She was a lady of grace. I will always remember her like most will as the people’s princess. I feel sorry for her two sons, that were left to grow up with the rest of the royals, with God only knows what being put into their heads about there mother. Diana had her fair share of personal problems. Most of which were brought on by her mean spirited mother-in-law and Prince Charles who never knew how to stand up to his mother. Diana may have not been a saint but she was a good person. By a good person I mean a person that seemed to be filled with love and compassion for everyone she knew.
    I will always remember her with great fondness!

  • Ginia

    I was in the middle of emotional torminal in my life and I seem to have related to the problems Princess Diana was experiencing. I noticed at the time she was on every major magazine imaginable. In my opinion the royal family was in dyer need of stamping out the connection with this x-royal who had become to worldly loved and admired. “How to squash the bug that has over shadowed their lives?” Common sense tells you only death would subdue the stardom she had aquired. I think this tragic death was all arranged by the royals. Sorry to say the only ones that have suffered are her loved ones, her children, parents, close friends, and us the fans. May she live a Jesus’s arms forever.

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