One of the biggest moments in the history of the 100-year-old air base was the day the body of Princess Diana was flown into west London the day she died after a crash in Paris, 20 year ago

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Princess Diana: The day the ‘people’s princess’ was flown to RAF Northolt following death in Paris car crash
The historic base near Ruislip has seen a number of major events in its time – getwestlondon remembers one of the most poignant

RAF Northolt hit the headlines recently after Ealing Council suggested that the working station could be closed in order to make way for 20,000 new homes.

This idea was vigorously opposed by Hillingdon Council and caused an uproar among residents opposed to the added strain on roads and health care in the area, as well as noting its historic status.

While RAF Northolt is a major landmark in Hillingdon and has had its share of controversy among some people living nearby, there are a number of aspects of the base that some getwestlondon readers may not be aware of.

One of the biggest moments in the history of the 100-year-old air base was the day the body of Princess Diana was flown into west London the day she died after a crash in Paris, 20 year ago.

The 36-year-old Princess of Wales was flown to the airfield after she died in hospital at 4am on August 31, 1997 following a car crash in the French capital earlier that morning.

The crash happened in Pont de l’Alma while the car was pursued by paparazzi photographers.

Diana and her lover Dodi Fayed – son of former Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed – and Henri Paul all died in the crash.

On the evening of August 31, Diana’s coffin landed at the base near Ruislip accompanied by her ex-husband Prince Charles, while Prime Minister Tony Blair looked on.

Draped in the Royal Standard, her body was carried in a slow march across the tarmac of RAF Northolt before being placed in a hearse.

Prince Philip and Prince Charles walking with Diana's son's William and Harry at Diana's funeral in 1997
Prince Philip and Prince Charles walking with Diana’s son’s William and Harry at Diana’s funeral in 1997

The death sparked a huge outpouring of grief across the country, with mourners gathering at Kensington Palace to remember the “Queen of people’s hearts”.

It was recently announced that a statue of Princess Diana has been commissioned by her sons to mark the 20th anniversary of her death so she is “never forgotten”.

The memorial will go up in a public spot of Kensington Palace Gardens , with the aim of visitors being able to pay their respects to the “people’s princess”.

Princes William and Harry said it will be unveiled by the end of the year and will be visible from their residence.

William and Harry said: “It has been 20 years since our mother’s death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue.

“Our mother touched so many lives.

Gun carriage pulled by King's Troop horses bears the coffin of Princess Diana. Photo (C) BEN CURTIS
Gun carriage pulled by King’s Troop horses bears the coffin of Princess Diana. Photo (C) BEN CURTIS

“We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy.”

Both brothers will work alongside a newly appointed committee, which includes Diana’s sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale, to raise funds for the statue.

Source: getwestlondon co uk

Tags: Princess Diana, Diana, Body of Princess Diana, West London, crash, paris