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How the Royal Family Reacted to Princess Diana’s Death: A Look into an Event That Shook the World

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The death of Princess Diana of Wales in August 1997 shook the world in more ways than one. However, no one seemed more affected than the British royal family, most notably, her two surviving sons.

Princess Diana’s death goes down in history as one of the most shocking events to plague the world. This was partly due to her benevolent nature which earned her the title, “the people’s princess,” and partly because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding her tragic demise.

Like many conspiracy theories surrounding the princess’s untimely death at 36, various assertions about the royal family’s reaction to the event have popped up over the years. 

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As a result, it is quite daunting to figure out which of these assertions were factual, and which lacked a shred of truth, making the late princess of Wale’s untimely departure all the more mysterious.


Princess Diana met her end on August 31, 1997, following a fatal car accident in Paris. The dark Sunday began with the arrival of the Princess and her Egyptian boyfriend, Emad Fayed in Paris a day prior, after their 10-day romantic getaway in the French Riviera.

The wrecked Mercedes following Princess Diana's crash | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Just after midnight, the duo rounded up a romantic dinner at the Ritz hotel and boarded Fayed’s, Mercedes Benz. The couple was reportedly en route to the billionaire’s private estate in Paris, with Henri Paul, the acting head of security at the hotel, serving as their driver.

Although the permissible speed limit on the road was 30 mph, their vehicle approached a tunnel at Paris’s Pont de l’Alma, at about 70 mph, with a trail of ruthless paparazzi pursuing close behind.

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Sadly, before making it through the other side of the tunnel, the Mercedes struck a pillar in the middle of the highway. The crash availed the Paparazzi enough opportunity to take the pictures they craved, as the vehicle’s occupants lay dying in the wreck. Fayed and the driver died at the scene of the crash, while first responders discovered Diana and the bodyguard alive.

They transported the legendary princess to a Parisian hospital, Pitie-Salpetriere, with multiple injuries. She eventually succumbed to her wounds at about 3 a.m., despite efforts to save her life.


Reports show that Princess Diana died from internal bleeding resulting from severe chest injuries, while undergoing surgery. In addition to her chest trauma, the legend suffered a broken arm and cut thigh, all of which left her in serious discomfort in her last moments.

Princess Diana | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

A 2019 bulletin by forensic pathologist Dr. Richard Shepherd gave a clearer description of her would-be cause of death. Shepherd wrote in his book, “Unnatural Causes” that the princess sustained a tiny, badly-placed tear in the vein of her lung. The specific injury, which he described as “so rare” ultimately led to her death

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Shepherd also implied that the late icon would have survived the accident had she used a seatbelt, like the bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who was the only survivor of the tragedy.


Many have described the royal family’s reaction to Diana’s death as one of the monarch’s greatest fumbles in history. But the royalties seemingly preferred to grieve in their own way. The Queen received news of Diana’s demise before dawn. She passed the news on to her son, Prince Charles through her private secretary Robert Fellowes at about 4:30 a.m.

Many people around the world waited in anticipation for the address of Queen Elizabeth II, which never came. Rather, the monarch remained in Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, with her son, Prince Charles, and Diana’s two little princes, William and Harry.

The queen and the boys’ father battled with the burden of informing them of their mom’s death. Eventually, Charles broke the devastating news to his sons when they awoke by morning. The then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair addressed reporters that morning with a lengthy statement in honor of the lost legend.


Meanwhile, Charles went to Paris to reclaim his ex-wife’s body, after managing to convince his mother who opposed the idea initially. Diana’s sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and Baroness Jane Fellowes accompanied him.

In her 2017 documentary, “Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors,” author Tina Brown revealed the Prince knew the moment he received the news that he and the royal family would be blamed for the death of the Princess of Wales. Brown also revealed Prince Charles was distraught, and fell apart, despite finalizing his divorce from Princess Diana the previous year, barely fifteen years after their grand royal wedding.

Michael Jay, the then British ambassador to France once recalled driving with Prince Charles in a car, escorting Diana’s casket to the airport. According to Jay, the prince admitted to him at that moment that “it all seems unreal.”

Charles strived to ensure Princess Diana’s funeral arrangements were spot-on. All the while, the Queen remained in Scotland, trying to keep her two mourning grandsons occupied, hence, her absence from England. Prince Williams would reveal years later that at that moment, the monarch chose to be a grandmother and protect her two grandsons, rather than the ruler the world hoped to see.


Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

While appearing to the press, and ultimately, the whole world as the distraught prince mourning the death of his estranged wife and mother of his kids, Prince Charles seemingly held some lingering grievances from their age-long feud.

Historian, Lacey Robert revealed in his 2020 book, “Battle Of Brothers: William and Harryꟷ The Inside Story Of A Family in Tumult,” that Prince Charles let out a fraction of this tension during a phone conversation with Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer.

According to Robert’s book, the duo had a disagreement while discussing the late icon’s funeral arrangements. Amid the heated exchange, the Prince said something “offensive” about Diana, which led Spencer to slam the phone on him.

Although Robert did not explicitly detail the offensive comment, he revealed the argument resulted from Prince Charles’ insistence to have his sons, then aged 15 and 12, walk behind their mom’s casket during the funeral procession.

The royals at Princess Diana's funeral procession | Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Diana’s brother opposed the idea, saying the Princess would never have agreed to put her kids through such an ordeal. The boys eventually obliged their father’s wishes at the royal occasion. However, Harry revealed years later, in a 2017 interview, that no child should have to go through such an ordeal.

Perhaps, the royal family should have been more open to the suggestion of a grieving brother, or at the very least, sought the children’s opinions. 

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