People are still exceptionally intrigued by Princess Diana, two decades after her passing.
The beloved late mother of Prince William, 34, and Prince Harry, 32, tragically died in a car accident in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997. Details surrounding the days that followed will be shared in an upcoming documentary, Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors.
Diana’s untimely passing was an unprecedented event for Buckingham Palace, and it sent the royal family spinning. The royals, along with the government, managed to organize a national funeral for the Princess within a week, taking place on Sept. 6, 1997.
The funeral-planning committee was made up of members from Kensington, Buckingham, and St James’ Palaces, representatives from Number 10, the police, and the Spencer family, who orchestrated the entire event.
Just this week William admitted that “it has taken 20 years to come to terms with his mom’s death,” while he and his brother mused that their mother’s passing “uniquely bonded” them — despite “not talking about it enough” over the years.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The new TV special takes us back to the harrowing moments that followed the accident. William and Harry, just 15 and 12 at the time, unknowingly slept in on the morning after the tragedy. At the time, the Princes were in Balmoral with Queen Elizabeth, who wanted her grandsons to have a moment before their lives were changed forever.
The Queen ordered all TVs and radios in her Balmoral residence to be moved or hidden, shielding the young boys from potentially hearing and seeing their mother’s final moments. Prince Charles was initially banned by his mother from going to Paris on the royal family’s private plane to retrieve Diana’s body.
Upon hearing the news, it’s believed a young Prince Harry wanted to join his dad but was ordered to stay at home. Charles was joined by his former wife’s butler at the time, Paul Burrell, and Colin Tebbutt, her chauffeur and security consultant.
William, Diana, and Harry. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Paul and Colin explained in the documentary that they were forced to create a makeshift morgue. “I honestly thought entering that room and looking at her, ‘She is not really dead, it’s just a joke, a very silly joke and you can wake up,'” Paul recalled about the moment he saw Diana’s body.
While Colin reflected, “Everyone was in shock… I noticed that hair of the princess was moving, which was from fans I had put in the room, and just for that massive minuscule of a second I thought was she alive, which was a silly thing to think.”
“Prince Charles came up to me and thanked me for being there and asked if there were any members of the clergy there, and Paul went and got the two vicars, and the two vicars and sisters went into the room and the door was shut,” Colin continued.
Diana, Harry, and William. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The investigation also discusses the difficulties surrounding the young boys. Anji Hunter — who was then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s advisor — spoke of the issues about wanting the young Princes to walk behind Princess Diana’s coffin.
Explaining how Diana’s sons wanted to mourn in private and were reluctant to do so, she said, “I can remember and it sends a tingle up my back thinking about it.”
“We were talking and then, from the speakerphone on the table, came Prince Philip’s voice, and it was anguished. ‘These are the boys here, we are talking about these boys, they have lost their mom.’ It brought it all home to us,” she said.
In the end, the royal siblings changed their minds and joined their father Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip, and uncle Charles Spencer, as they all walked behind her coffin. Diana’s death stopped the world, but her private secretary Patrick Jepson admitted at the time, they weren’t sure if enough people would come to pay their respects.
Diana and Charles. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
“There was no rule book to go to, no precedent, no tradition — nothing fitted the royal game plan. I remember saying if you get hold of a guest list for the Princess’s Christmas drinks in 1995, invite everybody on that guest list and you won’t have missed out anybody important,” he reflected.
Over two million people lined the streets to Westminster Abbey, in a bid to say their final goodbye.
The new documentary, Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors, is set to air on the UK’s Channel 5 at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30.