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Princess Diana
August 31, 2000

Low-key remembrance on 
third anniversary of Diana's death

The third anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, is expected to be marked this week by low-key remembrance.

The Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry were joining the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the traditional Sunday church service today.

Prayers were due to be said at Crathie Church, near the Balmoral Estate, although the princess will not be mentioned by name - as is traditional in the Church of Scotland.

The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry will be at Balmoral for the anniversary itself on Thursday, while Prince William will have left for the next stage of his gap year.

Balmoral is the centre of the Royal Family's summer holidays and it was there that they first heard of the crash and the princess's death early in the morning of August 31, 1997.

The princess's brother Earl Spencer will spend a quiet family day at the family home Althorp, where she is buried on an island.

The Northamptonshire estate, which has been open to the public during the summer, will close on Wednesday until next year.

At Buckingham Palace, the state rooms will be open to the public as usual during the summer opening.

People are expected to mark the anniversary by laying flowers at the gates of Kensington Palace in London, where the princess lived. In Paris, flowers are expected to be laid at the unofficial shrine above the Pont d'Alma tunnel, scene of the tragic crash which also killed her friend Dodi Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul.

The princess will also be remembered in prayers at Westminster Abbey, the scene of her funeral.

Monday August 28 12:43 AM ET
Diana's Sons Deal With Anniversary

By AUDREY WOODS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Princess Diana's survivors have moved on. Three years after her death, Prince Charles has brought Camilla Parker Bowles out of the shadows, and Diana's sons are on the brink of adulthood. They all remember her in private.

But many of the millions of people who had never met Diana, yet grieved her loss, still pay their respects in public ways.

They visit Kensington Palace and pose for snapshots at the ornate gates where a mourning nation heaped flowers after the princess died in a car wreck Aug. 31, 1997, in Paris.

They still arrive by the busload at Althorp House, the Spencer family estate where Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, assembled an exhibition in her memory.

In its third year, the exhibition has had little press attention, ``yet the visitors are still coming,'' said Althorp spokeswoman Shelley-Anne Claircourt. ``It's really remarkable that the numbers are still so high.''

The opening day gathering this year, as in previous years, included some of Diana's most devoted admirers.

Dale Kramer, 47, from Ohio, told The Sunday Express that he had saved his earnings as a restaurant table cleaner so he could be at Althorp on what would have been Diana's 39th birthday, July 1.

``She was my inspiration,'' Kramer said. ``I look at her picture when I drive and I look at her picture when I eat.''

Kramer said he had been at Kensington Gardens in London the day before for the inauguration of a new playground built in Diana's memory. The event received news coverage, but mostly because the royal family did not turn up.

Buckingham Palace said family members had previous public engagements. Prince William, 18, and Prince Harry, 16, had declined their invitation - ``a very private and personal decision they made for themselves,'' the palace said.

Prince Charles and his sons have made clear they do not want to perpetuate public grieving.

Two days after the first anniversary, William and Harry appealed to the public to let their mother and her memory rest in peace. ``Constant reminders of her death can create nothing but pain to those she left behind,'' they said.

Nor does the family want to condone a ``Diana industry,'' making money off her memory.

The river of books, videos and magazine stories may have abated, but there is still no shortage of reading material for the fans.

The latest book - ``Diana, Her Last Love'' by Elizabeth Snell - and an accompanying TV documentary contended that Diana was in love with a Pakistani heart surgeon when she died and that her yacht trip with Dodi Fayed was a fling to make the doctor jealous.

A couple of tabloids picked up on the story, but it caused no sensation.

Britain's tabloids have faced up to the need for new faces to sell newspapers, with entertainers Victoria ``Posh Spice'' Beckham, Elizabeth Hurley and Catherine Zeta Jones decorating the front pages in steady rotation. But it just isn't the same.

Publicist Max Clifford, the most successful negotiator of kiss-and-tell sales to the tabloids, said editors are ``desperately'' looking for a celebrity to match Diana.

``No one has taken her place. She's the biggest star that we've produced in this country in a very long time - probably since the Beatles. There is no one that's even remotely close,'' Clifford said.

A reliable best seller, of course, is Prince William, with his Diana-blue eyes and shy smile.

``Most people regard William as the next major star,'' Clifford said. ``There is huge worldwide interest in him - apart from anything else, he looks so much like his mum.''

Now a graduate of Eton, William has left behind some of the stricter protection of Britain's voluntary press code on coverage. Although not exactly fair game for the telephoto lenses until he graduates from college, he is more vulnerable to press attention than he ever has been.

He managed to slip quietly away to the jungles of Belize soon after graduation to start a year off, traveling and working, before beginning his studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

The Sun - Britain's biggest-selling daily tabloid - has taken a public vow of conscience. Days before William's 18th birthday in June, the paper promised to ``play fair'' with the prince.

``We will cover real news. We will not intrude. We will not pry,'' the tabloid wrote.

Clifford said the newspapers are more cautious now than they ever have been, in part because they know the public is more critical of their actions since Princess Diana died, pursued by photographers to the last minutes of her life.

``It's all a question of what they can justify, what they can get away with,'' he said. ``They're straining at the leash, but they don't want to do anything that has the potential to alienate their readers.''

A princess forgotten by her people

Three years on from the death of Diana, her cult is dwindling and the donations are beginning to dry up

27 August 2000

Three years ago the cult of Diana held the nation in its grip. In the days following the death of the princess, an ocean of flowers welled up around Kensington Palace gardens, millions lined the route of her funeral procession, and millions more found themselves caught up in the convulsive tide of mourning that swept the country.

It was a mass show of emotion on a scale never before seen in Britain. Yet this Thursday, the third anniversary of Princess Diana's death with her lover in a Paris underpass, will be officially marked with... nothing. Today, the cult of Diana has few followers outside the more fanatical remnants of what was, for a while, a mass movement.

There are no memorial services planned, and no memorial concerts. A special road race from Kensington Palace to St Paul's Cathedral, where the 20-year-old Diana married Charles, has been cancelled due to "sponsorship difficulties". There is no large event where the remaining faithful can gather together.

Althorp, Diana's family estate where she is buried in an island grave, says that visitor numbers are down. And while £20m poured into the coffers of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund in those early, emotional days, public donations last year declined to less than half a million pounds.

Who now keeps her flame aglow? Not her husband, not yet her sons, and not her former lovers. Instead, the task of marking the anniversary has been left to Mohammed Al Fayed, father of her final lover. Dodi's father is promising to release yet further "information" on the crash at a Washington DC press conference scheduled for Wednesday.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty, the premier magazine for Royal watchers, and author of the recently published The Queen and Di, is convinced the Diana bubble has finally burst.

"There is still a big group of people that adores her," said Ms Seward. "But the majority of the population have actually taken her off the pedestal and now see her as a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Her memory is very much alive but I think people have a very different image of her now. I don't think people are anti her, they just see her as a person with all her faults rather than a goddess. I don't think people any longer feel the compulsion to mourn her. Only the fanatics will do that."

Ms Seward believes Diana's case has not been helped by the extraordinary allegations made by Mr Al Fayed who has accused the Duke of Edinburgh of arranging the car crash. That, said Ms Seward, has increased public sympathy for the Royal family, a factor noticeably absent in the aftermath of the crash.

Andrew Samuels, professor of analytical psychology at Essex University says that the lack of public mourning reflects normal patterns of the grieving process. But he said today's public indifference is an over-reaction to the extreme emotions shown three years ago: "I think the people are now just so embarrassed when they look back at the degree of emotional involvement that they showed at the time, suddenly we have become very British again only more so."

The Princess Diana Memorial Fund charity argues that the drop in donations is meaningless as it never wanted public contributions anyway. Instead, it intended to raise funds through licensing of Diana memorial products such as the "Queen of Hearts" collection of plates.

But a survey by Mintel, the market analysts, into public perceptions of charitable causes shows a marked decline in the actual popularity of the memorial fund. In the aftermath of Diana's death, more than one in four people described it as one of the most appealing causes, rating it above environmental fund-raising or international aid.

Three years on, that figure has dropped to 11 per cent of the 2,000 people polled. Significantly, it now trails behind the Prince's Trust, the charity set up by Prince Charles in 1984 to help young people with 13 per cent describing it as one of the "most worthwhile or appealing" causes.

"The [memorial] fund is much less high profile than it had been in autumn 1997," concluded the report. Its author, James McCoy, says that is due in the main to the inevitable passing of time and Diana slipping out of the public consciousness.

But he also believes that adverse publicity over a legal battle including £1.7 million spent on lawyers' fees to protect the Diana copyright from an American firm that produced merchandise has clearly not helped the fund.

A spokeswoman for the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund defended the money spent fighting the legal battle with Franklin Mint to protect the Diana copyright because licensing deals, such as one signed last month with Franklin Mint's rival Bradford Exchange, are set to bring in as much as £40 million.

A total of £28m has already been distributed by the fund to charitable causes, she said, while another £7m is earmarked for later in the year.