Sixteen years ago, give or take three days, I had a tear in my eye as I watched the funeral of someone I’d never met
Her sons, only slightly younger than me, looked so vulnerable as they walked behind her coffin on its way to church.
I was 17 at the time and I was watching the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, from the living room of my then boyfriend.
I had thought the hysteria when she died a bit uncalled-for. After all, this was a woman who, though beautiful and fragile and all that, was becoming just as well-known for having a string of high-profile dalliances on yachts and in exotic places (and for that notorious Panorama broadcast.
But between her death on August 31, 1997 and her funeral, at Westminster Abbey on September 6, I was surprised to learn how much she’d done for others.
I hadn’t known about her campaign against landmines and her work to highlight the devastation they cause to innocent people, often decades after they’ve been planted.
And, most impressive of all, I didn’t know it was Princess Diana who first publicly held the hand of a man who had AIDS. It was probably the only way to change public opinion of the virus and the devastation it could cause.
And it changed me, too. It changed the way I viewed her and made me realise that, actually, the world would be worse off without her.
So when the queues of people lining the route of her funeral procession were deeper than anyone really expected, I was glad.
One of the most touching things about any death are the tributes. In Diana’s case, those tributes were legion.
They spoke of how she touched individual lives, how she made people feel.
Now I’m not silly, I know some of these were perhaps a little exaggerated. But, regardless, she inspired people to bother.
I suspect that’s what prompted a film to be made about her life and her death.
But I for one won’t be going to see it. It has been universally panned, despite Diana being played by Naomi Watts, because it is too reverential. Certainly it is too soon.