OPINION: Diana never looked more beautiful than she did in those tabloid photos taken just before she died
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant
It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the tragic death of Diana Princess of Wales.
The woman born into English aristocracy as lady Diana Spencer, nicknamed 'Shy Di', and who married, loved, lost and divorced her English Prince Charming.
The fairytale ended abruptly when Diana finally lost out to the other woman in the life of the Prince of Wales, his mistress, the infamous 'third person in their marriage', the now Duchess of Cornwall, or as then, Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The British people had a taste of a refreshingly glamorous monarchy during the early years of the union between the princess and Prince Charles.
And when it ended, the public seemed genuinely shocked and saddened by the subsequent acrimonious separation and divorce.
Following the end of her marriage, the monarchy trundled on while Diana cast a lonely shadow, a lost soul who became more and more of an outcast from her royal past with 'the firm' taking away her title 'her royal highness' and separating her from her young sons.
So in the Summer of 1997 it was refreshing to see pictures of Diana emerge again, making international headlines with her radiant smiling face, beaming out from the front pages.
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In my view she never looked more beautiful than she did in those tabloid photos taken just before she died.
She seemed to glow with her summer suntan highlighting her slim figure as she posed in her swimwear appearing happy and relaxed.
The pictures were taken of Diana holidaying on board the luxury yacht while being courted, wined and dined by the rich playboy son of the multi-millionaire businessman and Harrods owner.
The paparazzi could not get enough of Diana dating Dodi Fayed, and they hunted her down and ultimately ended up contributing to her untimely death by chasing her chauffeur driven car in the Paris tunnel on the night of her tragic death.
And how our nation mourned the tragedy of their 'Queen of Hearts' passing.
Princess Diana's young life was cut short far too early at 36 years old while still in her prime, it ended so abruptly and the world was in shock.
During the following weeks, England played out dramatic scenes of the aftermath with flowers, funeral ,family and friends, the likes of which had never been seen before or since.
A massive sea of flowers outside her London home in Kensington Palace was laid by thousands of ordinary people as a tribute to show their love for her.
Flowers became a symbol of Diana's short life and I can remember here at city hall in Norwich, a book of remembrance was opened and signed by many locals who wanted to show their respect, including myself.
On the night of her death I can remember hearing the news from a colleague while working a night shift and did not believe what I heard - I thought it was a sick prank.
While Prince Charles went to France to collect Diana's body, the country waited what seems like forever for the Queen to return to Buckingham Palace, lower the Union Jack standard to half-mast and speak to the nation.
But the image that remains is that of two young princes in smart suits being paraded through the streets of London behind the gun carriage carrying their mother's coffin. Simply heartbreaking.
The legacy that Princess Diana left behind, though, are her two sons who will no doubt continue updating the monarchy making it more approachable by exposing their own humanitarian qualities and ability to be more open about their feelings.
Diana would be so proud.