Karen Belz
June 17, 2013 8:00 am

On August 31, 1997, an extremely tough event occurred – Diana, Princess of Wales, died from injuries sustained in a car accident in Paris, France along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the vehicle.

Diana was the first wife of Charles, Princes of Wales, who was the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. The two had been friends for many years, but he became romantically interested in her in 1980 – and proposed not long after, in 1981. She’s best known today for fundraising for international charities, and for being the mother of William and Harry.

Originally thought to have been caused by a frenzy of paparazzi, the crash occurred based on the reckless actions of the driver, Henri Paul, who lost control of the speeding car while drunk.

Paul, who was the deputy head of security of the Ritz Hotel, was instructed to drive Diana and her crew in a black Mercedes Benz to try and avoid the lingering paparazzi. (Diana and Dodi were dining at the Ritz prior to.) A decoy vehicle had left the Ritz first, causing photographers to follow the wrong vehicle. As the Benz was entering a tunnel, it swerved to the left before colliding with a pillar at approximately 65 miles per hour. The car was substantially damaged, and attracted a lot of attention from photographers who were snapping photos while the victims were in a rough state.

Critically injured, Diana reportedly mumbled “Oh my God”, followed by “Leave Me Alone”. Dodi, who was in the left rear passenger seat, was pronounced dead almost immediately, and Henri Paul was declared dead upon being removed from the vehicle. It was suspected that Diana wasn’t wearing a seat belt during the time of the accident.

Diana was sitting in the rear right passenger seat, and was still conscious when emergency crews found her. It was reported that a photographer who saw Diana said that she was bleeding from the nose and ears, and she couldn’t respond with words – only blinks – when he tried to communicate with her. After being removed from the car, she went into cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, she was pronounced dead at 4 AM.

Her public funeral was at Westminster Abbey on September 6th, and an estimated 3 million people showed up to mourn. It was televised as well, and drew in a crowd of 2.5 billion viewers.

People still have a big interest in Princess Diana -in 2002 she was ranked third in a Great Britons poll sponsored by the BBC (outranking the Queen!) and another poll voted her death as being one of the most important events in England’s history over the last hundred years.

In July of 2006, Italian magazine Chi published photos of Diana in the midst of the wreckage of the car crash, despite all photos of the incident being unofficially blacked out from the media. The editor said that his decision to publish them wasn’t meant to be disrespectful – he just figured they’d gain interest based on the fact that they’ve never been seen before.

One year later, her two sons put on a concert at Wembley Stadium to celebrate the 47th year of her birth. The concert was just a few weeks shy of the tenth anniversary of her accident.

The death of Diana was tragic for many reasons – not only did she she do a world of good, but she was often described as the “world’s most photographed woman.” To this day, her campaigning (most notably  her work against the use of landmines, and helping AIDS victims) will always be recognized.

Image Credit: automotto.com (featured)

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