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Diana Sunday, 1 March, 1998, 15:21 GMT
On the Net: Truly the People's Princess
Thousands of netizens are having their say about Diana online
Thousands of netizens are having their say about Diana online
Six months after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the mourning continues. And nowhere is it more evident than on the Internet.

While the mainstream press continues to dedicate acres of space to Diana's memory - her clothes, her charity work and speculation about the circumstances of her death - thousands of individuals also are maintaining memorial Web sites to pinpoint Diana's contribution to their own lives.

The Web, of course, is a natural conduit for such outpourings of emotion. In cyberspace, where anyone can be a publisher, hot-button issues inevitably spawn thousands of sites.

This symbol shows that a site is part of the Diana Web ring
This symbol shows that a site is part of the Diana Web ring
That said, the number of Diana tribute sites is remarkable. Although there is no way to reliably count them (Internet legend says that a new Web site is launched every second), the number of tribute sites is tremendous.

A search engine, Yahoo, alone lists 12 categories and 436 sites specifically related to Diana, putting her far ahead of other fallen heroes and pop icons. Elvis Presley, for example, has 324 sites dedicated to him (including Internet gems like the 24-hour Church of Elvis). Jimi Hendrix has 132 sites and Jim Morrison has only 25.

Diana sites range from photo galleries and collections of poems to calls for action against the paparazzi. The online community also has created Diana Web rings, which group similar sites, to help Diana fans navigate the ever-growing number of online memorials.

Many sites urge action against the paparazzi
Many sites urge action against the paparazzi
The sheer number of sites is in part attributable to the fact that some are blaming Diana's death on the conventional media.

One Webmaster summed up the reasons for the flourishing of Diana sites in the fifth issue of his online magazine, the Diana Generation.

"I wanted to do something to help my healing and to help others heal as well as keep her memory and legacy alive," he writes. "This Webzine is also a way of counteracting the tabloids, who never gave us what we wanted. They invaded her privacy to bring us pictures that we didn't need to see."

Other sites urge users to take action against the paparazzi. One site, The Tragedy that Didn't Need to Happen, provides information about boycotting the tabloids, lobbying legislators to introduce restrictions on stalking by photographers and facilitating discussion on privacy issues.

Almost all the Diana sites are in good taste
Almost all the Diana sites are in good taste
In fact, treating Diana with dignity is the overriding theme of most sites. Unlike almost all other Internet phenomena, the sites by and large ignore bad humour. Yahoo lists only four sites with Diana jokes. All of them reverently warn users to turn back if they are likely to be offended.

Diana is a star on the Web for the same reasons she is popular in the real world. Her elusive complexity - both a fashion trend-setter, earnest mother and princess - spurs unending speculation and compassion. And with the Internet's unlimited space to match the public's unending interest, Diana sites are unlikely to disappear in the near future.

BBC News special report online:
Death of a Princess: Six months on...

Links to more Diana stories are at the foot of the page.


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