The Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997 at the age of 36. The 24th anniversary of her death will be marked next week as the public will be allowed to visit a statue of the “People’s Princess”. The statue, in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden, was unveiled last month by Diana’s sons, princes William, 39, and Harry, 36. Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) said this week that although the gardens are not currently open on Tuesdays, an exception will be made to mark the day Diana passed away.
During this period, she was more frequently photographed in regular clothes, appearing without the trappings of royalty.
Arthur Edwards, a former royal photographer for The Sun newspaper, recalled this phase of Diana’s life in a recently resurfaced interview.
He was speaking for the 2011 Channel 4 documentary “How Diana’s Death Shaped William & Harry”.
Princes: William and Harry unveil Diana statue
He said: “We tend to think of her as just a gorgeous princess in glamorous gowns and tiaras, but towards the end I think she discarded all that.
“She was just out to try and make a difference, a big difference.”
In the June before her tragic death, Diana decided to sell off 79 of her cocktail and evening dresses.
The charity auction at Christie’s in Manhattan raised $3.25million (£2.37 million – not adjusted for inflation).
Diana: In famous gown dancing with John Travolta
According to Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton, who wrote the sensational book “Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words”, the auction was a sign that Diana was looking ahead to the future.
He told the documentary: “Diana was thinking a lot about her future, how she could strike out on her own and talking about getting rid of some of her clothes.
“Prince William famously said, ‘Why don’t you auction them off and give the proceeds to charity?’
“The gowns were sold in New York and raised [millions] of pounds for charity.”
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The money raised from the sale went to the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund and AIDS Crisis Trust.
The star garment at the auction was Diana’s so-called “Travolta dress”, which went for more than $200,000.
The Princess of Wales donned the blue velvet Victor Edelstein gown during a visit to the White House at the invitation of then-President Ronald Reagan.
Diana appeared in the now-iconic dress on several occasions, but its legendary status was sealed as the Princess danced with John Travolta at the White House.
The garment was later purchased by charity HRP, which announced last year it would exhibit the dress in Kensington Palace, Diana’s former home.
HRP curator Eleri Lynn said in a statement it was the “right moment to display this exquisite example of British couture created for Diana, Princess of Wales.”
She added: “One of the princess’s most iconic gowns, its wow-factor and timeless elegance prove a fitting introduction to a building embodying those very attributes.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK