Princess Diana‘s death shocked the world more than two decades ago. Many people old enough to remember when she passed recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
The days following her tragic death also left the public stunned and nearly brought down the monarchy. Here’s more on the royal family’s response that left a nation infuriated. And who Prince Charles fought with when it came time to decide whether the People’s Princess should have a public or private funeral.
When did Prince Charles find out that Princess Diana died?
Princess Diana died following a car crash on Aug. 31, 1997. She was leaving the Ritz Hotel in Paris with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, just after midnight when they were chased by the paparazzi.
The hotel’s head of security Henri Paul was driving their limousine and traveling at a high rate of speed in an effort to lose the photogs. The limo ended up crashing into a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
Paul and Fayed were killed instantly but the princess was still alive. She was transported to La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital.
Reader’s Digest reported that Britain’s ambassador to France, Michael Jay, was awoken in the middle of the night and told about the crash. He then contacted Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary, Robin Janvrin, to notify the monarch. The queen was staying at her holiday home Balmoral in Scotland with the rest of the royal family when she got the news that Diana was badly injured. Prince Charles was woken up right after his mother and told as well. Hours later, they were informed that the princess did not survive.
The royal family received backlash for their response
Back in London, word that Diana was killed in a car accident quickly started to spread. The public was expecting a statement from Buckingham Palace or the queen herself but instead, there was silence and that silence was deafening.
Many were outraged when it was reported that the morning of their mother’s death Princes William and Harry attended church with Queen Elizbeth.
The business-as-usual approach did not go over well with the public and the queen was viewed as cold-hearted.
E! News noted that Prince William later offered this explanation about his grandmother’s behavior saying that she “felt very torn between being the grandmother to William and Harry, and her queen role. And I think she– everyone–was surprised and taken aback by the scale of what happened and the nature of how quickly it all happened.”
Did Prince Charles want a public funeral for Diana?
While the nation continued to mourn Princess Diana’s passing and blame was being tossed around, Prince Charles was at odds with his mother over whether to have a public or private funeral for his ex-wife.
According to Channel 4 News in London (per the Chicago Tribune), the future king fought for Diana to have a public service as the monarch wanted a private one. The station reported that Charles quarreled with the queen’s advisors and told one “to impale himself on his own flagstaff.”
In the end, Princess Diana’s service was public. An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world watched the funeral