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Saturday, January 3, 1998 Published at 11:21 GMT

Special Report

The year of Diana
image: [ Diana's funeral ]
Diana's funeral

The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, captured the world's attention like no other event in recent years.

[ image: The car in which Diana died]
The car in which Diana died
The car crash in central Paris, on August 31, which killed her, as well as her friend, Dodi al Fayed, and the driver of the car, generated more space in newspapers across the globe than any other news story this century.

Expressions of grief poured into Britain from heads of state and government, from ordinary people who had met the Princess and from those who simply admired her.

On the day of her death, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, summed up the mood of British people: "We are today a nation in Britain in a state of shock, in mourning and in grief that is so deeply painful for us. She was the people's Princess and that's how she will remain in our hearts and in our memories forever."

During a week of mourning, more than a million bouquets of flowers were laid in her honour at royal palaces, churches, town halls and public squares. Hundreds of thousands of people stood in queues for up to 12 hours to sign books of condolence.

On the day of her funeral, a million people lined the streets of London to watch the gun carriage carry Diana's body from her home at Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service.

Along most of the 3km route to the Abbey, the people were silent and still. At the funeral, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, read the lesson from the Bible and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, gave the tribute.

Diana's legacy

[ image: Diana,
Diana, "peoples princess"
Before her death, Diana was rarely out of the spotlight - whether publicising an anti-landmine campaign, or auctioning off her old clothes, or holidaying with Dodi. Afterwards, interest Princess's private life has shown no sign of subsiding.

The investigation into the accident provoked numerous headlines. Blood tests showed that the driver of the car, Henri Paul, had taken both drugs and a large amount of alcohol before the accident. Later, when the only survivor from the crash, the bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, came out of hospital he could not remember key events leading up to the accident. The French authorities were still trying to find out what had happened well into December.

The behaviour of the press - which some said had caused Diana's death - also came under close scrutiny. The code governing the media was tightened in December.

A royal change

Diana's death had a profound effect on the royal family. In the week before the funeral, the monarchy was widely criticised for being too distant from the British public at such an important time. The night before the service, the Queen, with the crowds outside Buckingham Palace clearly in view behind her, made an unprecedented live broadcast to the nation to pay a warm tribute to the Princess.

[ image: The Queen on walkabout with Tony Blair at her anniversary celebrations]
The Queen on walkabout with Tony Blair at her anniversary celebrations
Later, near the end of November, on the occasion of her golden wedding anniversary, the Queen promised to listen to public opinion and to adapt the Royal Family to the needs of the public in the future.

Prince Charles offered thanks to the public for their help during a difficult time for his family. In his first public engagement after his former wife's death, the Prince said how "enormously grateful" he was to the public for their warmth and support. He also paid tribute to his sons, William and Harry, for the way they had coped with their mother's death. He even proved his youth appeal by meeting British pop group, the Spice Girls, on a number of occasions.

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