The relationship between the queen elizabeth and Lady Diana was never linear. Between the two women, opposite characters and quite different backgrounds, the wall of misunderstanding was often erected. When the people’s princess died on August 31, 1997, the sovereign became the target of those who blamed the crown more or less indirectly for this death. Her Majesty was criticized for failing to pay her respects to Diana in the hours immediately following the Alma Tunnel accident. But that’s not how it would have happened. During Lady Diana’s funeral, Elizabeth broke some very important rules for the Windsors only to say goodbye to the mother of her grandchildren, the future King of England.
That night in August 1997
When Lady Diana died in Paris in a tragic car accident that still spills the classic ink streams today, Queen Elizabeth was on holiday in Balmoral but decided not to return to London immediately. He also avoided any public statement at first. According to the Channel 5 documentary Diana: 7 Days That Shook the Windsors (2017), Elizabeth II only wanted to protect her grandchildren, who were overcome with devastating grief. William and Harry would not have been informed of the news immediately and the Queen would have banned access to radio and television to prevent the boys (they were only 15 and 12 at the time) from hearing the gory details of the death of Lady Diana.
However, the British interpreted the silence of their monarch as an expression of coldness, indifference. The days between the princess’s death and her funeral would be the ones when the monarchy would hit rock bottom and anger her subjects. At first, Queen Elizabeth would not have understood the reasons for the popular anger. After all, Diana wasn’t a Windsor anymore and she threw up dirt in the 1995 BBC interview Crown. The British, on the other hand, thought differently. So the sovereign had to take cover, returned to London and delivered what is now the historic September 5, 1997 speech, in which she paid homage to her ex-daughter-in-law.
It seems that the idea of the Declaration to the Nation was from Tony Blair. The Prime Minister at the time would have warned the Queen of the implications for the monarchy of the royal family’s distant stance and the “global” scope of the tragic event. In reality, according to tradition, Elizabeth could have lived in silence and private mourning precisely because Lady Diana was no longer a member of the royal family. He did not do it. For some, it was a political decision whose sole aim was the survival of the crown. However, this cannot be true, at least not entirely.
The broken rules
At the time of her death, Lady Diana, now divorced from Prince Charles (the divorce became official on August 28, 1996), had lost Royal Highness status and was creating an image entirely detached from that of the Company. Nevertheless, Queen Elizabeth gave her consent to a public funeral and live television. Not only. He agreed to place the English king’s banner on the coffin, a heraldic symbol used under a very specific protocol. For example, it is hoisted on official transport, but only when Queen Elizabeth is on board. Furthermore His Majesty He made a gesture that went down in history: he bowed to the princess’s coffin. A queen bowing her head to a woman who was no longer royal. Even these details, for some, were merely the result of careful strategy, a desperate attempt to preserve the throne. We may never know. But who tells us that this bow was not also a kind of reconciliation, the proverbial “stone” to an indelible past, to a broken time, to the misunderstandings that will never know clarification?