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The tragic fairy tale of Diana

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JAMAL A. WILSON – | Princess Diana in Washington, June 17, 1997

From her engagement with Prince Charles as a shy teenager to her role as a devoted mother and humanitarian activist until her tragic death, Diana turned the British royal family upside down and marked her era.

Young, beautiful and funny: her singularity seemed refreshing when she married the heir to the British throne in 1981 at 20 years, as in a fairy tale.

But the stormy end of his marriage with Charles, and the gravelly details of their lives spread in one of the papers, shook the British royalty sharply, and endlessly fueled the chronicle.

For many, Lady Di’s public image remains that of the interview she gave in 1995 to the BBC and in which she shared her feelings about her husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, about her own infidelity with the Officer James Hewitt, her inner tumults and doubts about her husband’s ability to become king.

These revelations tore the veil of secrecy of the monarchy. But these problems only made her more popular.

“Like Marilyn Monroe, she’s frozen in time, she’s like a creature locked in a block of amber, there forever, beautiful, young, vulnerable and bruised,” said royal biographer Penny Junnor.

– World Popularity –

Born July 1, 1961, Diana grew up in an aristocratic family close to the monarchy: her father had worked for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Diana, who grew up with three brothers and sisters, saw her golden childhood marked by her parents’ divorce.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – STR – | Wedding ceremony between Prince Charles and Diana at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, July 29, 1981

She left school without a diploma and then went to Switzerland to learn the ways of a perfect Lady. She then worked in a day care center in London.

At the age of 16, she meets Charles for the first time, who will ask her in marriage after only 13 appointments.

She is 20 years old, he is 32 and he is in a hurry to find a wife. She quickly fulfilled her first mission by giving birth the following year to an heir, William and two years later to Harry.

Diana then becomes a loving and modern mom, whose empathy for others has attracted worldwide popularity.

She uses her status to defend the most disadvantaged, shaking hands with AIDS patients or lepers, seen at the time as pariahs. It is fully committed to the fight against antipersonnel mines.

But her public image conceals a tormented young woman suffering from bulimia and full of doubts reinforced by her husband’s lack of love and the indifference of the rest of the royal family.

– ‘Goodbye England’s Rose’ –

The first rumors about the difficulties of his marriage appear in 1992 with a book by Andrew Norton evoking the torments of the life of the princess. The year ended with the resounding announcement of the separation of the royal couple.

The scandal grows with recriminations and rumors that fill the pages of the newspapers and reaches its apogee with the confession, first by Charles then by Diana, of their respective infidelities.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – JOEL SAGET – | Hundreds of people gathered on 31 August in front of the flame of the Statue of Liberty near the Alma tunnel in Paris, where Princess Diana was killed

A few weeks later, the Queen wrote to Charles and Diana inviting them to divorce.

On August 28, 1996, the divorce was pronounced and Diana lost her title of royal highness. The fairy tale is over but Diana remains a public figure scrutinized by the popular media.

She finds love first in the arms of a Pakistani cardiologist, Hasnat Khan, then in those of Dodi Al Fayed, the son of an Egyptian millionaire owner of the luxury store Harrods. The couple died on August 31, 1997 in a car accident in Paris while they were pursued by paparazzi.

The world mourns the princess of hearts. Millions of flowers are deposited in front of the Kensington Palace. An endless queue is formed in the streets of London to pay him a final tribute at his funeral where his friend Elton John will sing “Candle in the Wind” rewritten for her and which begins: “Goodbye England’s Rose” from England).

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