Monday, Mar. 31, 2003

Death of a Princess

Aug. 31, 1997

They had finished an intimate dinner at the Ritz Hotel, and Dodi Fayed, an Egyptian-born multimillionaire, and Princess Diana were on their way to his opulent 10-room apartment overlooking the Champs-Elysées. But the couple never made it to Fayed's place. At 12:23 a.m. the speeding Mercedes in which Diana, 36, and Fayed were riding crashed into the 13th pillar of the Alma tunnel on the right bank of the Seine River. Fayed and the intoxicated driver died at the scene. Diana was declared dead at 4 a.m. at Paris' Pitié-Salpetrière Hospital.

Acres of flowers, cards and teddy bears quickly began piling up outside Diana's home at Kensington Palace. But the outpouring of grief seemed to catch the royal family off guard, and it took almost a week before the Queen declared admiration for her erstwhile daughter-in-law. Yet Diana had left an indelible mark on the Windsor clan. In the days, weeks and years since, the once staid monarchy has continued to strive for that common touch that made Diana the people's princess.