In Memoriam: Princess Diana

In Memoriam: Princess Diana

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A 20 éve elhunyt Diana hercegnére emlékezünk. 

Princess Diana’s living legacy: a stream still running

A Mercedes Benz trying to get away from a flock of paparazzi speeds down a tunnel in the heart of Paris - its passengers looking for the privacy not normally granted to the super rich and to royalty. It is now 20 years ago that Lady Diana, the mother of the heir to the English throne Prince William, and Prince Charles’ former wife, was killed in a tragic car accident in August 1997. Her legacy though is still very much present in the British public.

How is her anniversary celebrated and how do people remember her? Let’s take a look.

The troubled princess and her death

People still remember Princess Diana as the troubled, kind-hearted and generous woman, always close to her simplicity outside the royal court, and the person many Brits never hesitated to identify with.

The much admired royal was only 36 years old when she passed away in a car accident. Having spent her holiday with her partner, Dodi Al Fayed on the French and Italian Riviera, the couple stopped in Paris on their way back to London. They had only planned on staying for one night, but everything changed shortly. Diana and Dodi left the Ritz and were being driven to a nearby apartment.

Just three minutes after leaving the hotel, the driver entered the Alma underpass to avoid approaching paparazzi, then lost control of the car, reportedly travelling at 65 mph (approximately 104 km/h - the speed limit inside the tunnel is 30 mph), and smashed into a pillar of the tunnel. None of the passengers were wearing seat belts.

Despite all the facts pointing to an apparent accident, Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the crash, insisted that the deaths were engineered by members of the royal family and agents of the British state because they wanted to prevent Diana from marrying a Muslim. "This is not an accident," he said in the early hours of 31 August 1997, when he learned of the deaths. "It is a plot, an assassination." His allegationshave not, however, been confirmed.

A life both special and ordinary

From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death, Diana was probably the most famous woman in the world, a female celebrity of her generation, a fashion icon and a symbol of feminine beauty. She was admired for her high-profile work on AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was frequently referred to as the most photographed person in the world.

She was often called Princess Diana publicly, but she did not officially have this title and was not personally a princess, a fact Diana never failed to point out.

Lady Diana Frances Spencer (July 1, 1961–August 31, 1997) was born as the youngest daughter of Edward Spencer and Frances Spencer, on a grand estate in Norfolk.

She was educated in Norfolk and at West Heath Girls’ School in Sevenoaks, Kent, where she was regarded as an academically below-average student, having failed all of her O-level examinations. Diana was a talented amateur singer, excelled in sports and reportedly hoped to become a ballerina.

Nearing his mid-thirties, Prince Charles was under increasing pressure to marry. In order to have the approval of his family and their advisors, any potential bride had to have an aristocratic background, could not be previously married, had to be Protestant, and preferably a virgin. Diana fulfilled all of these qualifications.

Buckingham Palace announced the engagement on 24 February 1981. The wedding took place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981 before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated 1 billion television viewers around the world. Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry the heir to the throne since 1659. Upon her marriage, Diana became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales and was ranked as the third most important royal woman in the United Kingdom after the Queen and the Queen Mother. The Prince and Princess of Wales had two children, Prince William, born on 21 June 1982 and Prince Henry (commonly called Prince Harry) on 15 September 1984.

Their marriage started to fall apart in the mid-1980s, an event at first suppressed, but then sensationalised by the media. Charles resumed his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, and Diana became involved in a sequence of affairs.

Their divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. The Princess lost the entitlement to the title Her Royal Highness but since the divorce, Buckingham Palace has maintained that Diana was officially a member of the Royal Family, since she was the mother of the second and third in line to the throne.

Her charity work and personality  

The Princess of Wales became well known for her support of charity projects, and has been thought to have considerable influence for her campaigns against the use of landmines and helping the victims of AIDS.

Talking about her role in health care, a spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital said "Her support was invaluable and incalculable."

The communications manager for The Royal Marsden NHS Trust reminded how Lady Diana’s campaigns helped remove the stigmas that used to go with HIV and AIDS.  She remembered that "Her genuine concern for the plight of others and her ability to talk to anybody and make them feel special were her remarkable qualities."

Diana had a knack for seemingly always being open with people—offering the same small glimpses to everyone. People adored her because whenever she spoke to them she revealed some small bits of information about herself or her family. She was also sympathetic and approachable.

Diana and the royal family today

Her two children remain exceedingly popular in Britain and across the world.  William and Harry are known for their charitable characters and positive personalities.

Prince William is an Air Ambulance pilot and a known conservationist, devoted to preserving the environment for future generations. One of his famous comments “Let us not tell our children the sad tale of how we watched the last elephants, rhinos and tigers die out, but the inspiring story of how we turned the tide and preserved them for all humanity”, has helped joining forces in the battle to preserve wildlife.

Prince Harry, who is fifth in line to the throne, spent ten years serving in the Armed Forces. He is now supporting Queen Elizabeth II in her royal duties and carrying out a number of charitable activities. He is raising awareness for the difficulties military servicemen face when they are returning to civilian life. He supports wounded army personnel as well as those with physical or mental challenges after military service. He is a devoted sportsman and has been active organising athletic events in support for people in need.

The resemblance between the princes and their late mother is rather obvious but even more striking is how much the 2-year-old Princess Charlotte takes after Queen Elizabeth II as well as Lady Diana in photographs taken around the same age.

How is the anniversary of her death celebrated?

Celebrations and commemorations are held around the year. The charity Diana Award, established to promote the positive power of young people, will hold events, launch an app and hold national Kindness Day in her memory. It also hands out an award to twenty exceptional young people who have brought about positive social change. William and Harry are also to honour their mother by creating a new garden at Kensington Palace. There will be an exhibition inside the palace where the two princes grew up and where William and Kate now live with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The legacy of Princess Diana is being kept alive so that we can always remember an unforgettable life that ended so tragically prematurely.  

Vocabulary

paparazzo

szenzációfotós, hírfotós

desperately

kétségbeesetten

to be granted

megadatik

heir

örökös

legacy

hagyaték, örökség

anniversary

évforduló

troubled

problémás

generous

nagylelkű

to hesitate

habozni

to pass away

elhunyni

underpass

aluljáró

to smash

nekicsapódni

apparent

nyilvánvaló

to insist

ragaszkodni

plot

összeesküvés

allegation

gyanúsítás

to confirm

megerősíteni, alátámasztani

engagement

eljegyzés

feminine

női, nőies

high-profile

közismert

landmine

taposóakna

below-average

átlag alatti

to fail

megbukni

approval

jóváhagyás

virgin

szűz

to estimate

felbecsülni

to be ranked

rangsorolni

to suppress

elhallgatni, nem beszélni róla

to sensationalise

felfújni, nagydobra verni

entitlement

jogosultság

charity

jótékonysági

considerable

jelentős

genuine

őszinte

plight

(nehéz) helyzet

knack

érzék

glimpse

bepillantás

approachable

közvetlen, megközelíthető

conservationist

környezetvédő

to turn the tide

visszafordítani a folyamatot

to raise awareness

felhívni a figyelmet

wounded

sebesült

devoted

odaadó, odaszánt

resemblance

hasonlóság

late

néhai

to take after

hasonlítani valakire

commemoration

megemlékezés

exceptional

kivételes

to honour

tisztelegni valami előtt

unforgettable

felejthetetlen

prematurely

idő előtt, túl korán

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