‘No one would have anticipated it’ Princess Diana’s death remembered 24 years on

Princess Diana praised for omitting ‘obey’ from wedding vows

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Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris on the night of August 31, 1997. The late Princess of Wales’ passing saddened millions of people around the world.

And, according to one of the key people reporting on the historic event, this tragic death was so unexpected no one would have anticipated it.

Beth O’Connell, former producer of special programming at NBC News, recalled how shocking it was to hear about the Paris car crash.

She told Express.co.uk: “Part of the job of the executive producer of special events is to anticipate major events that will impact viewers and history.

“We plan for the deaths of presidents and Popes.

“But no one would have anticipated the tragic death of a 36-year-old Princess and popular culture icon.

“She was so glamorous, elegant, regal, as well as a compassionate humanitarian, the most photographed woman in the world who led what outwardly seemed a charmed life.

“Yet had such a stunning and cruel end.”

Ms O’Connell revealed she had taken on her role at NBC News only six days before the night of the car crash. 

However, she was the journalist who suggested to begin the 24/7 coverage of the news as no other executive could be found on that Saturday night.

She added: “Once the wires verified that police confirmed Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul were in the car and died, we suspicioned that Diana was maybe seriously injured.

“I wrote a very carefully scripted broadcast ‘interrupt’ which aired at 9.50pm ET (2.50am BST).”

Ms O’Connell, who covered the news of Princess Diana’s death until the day of her funeral in London, also recalled what she found most excruciating during the coverage.

The journalist, who also took part in a special episode of the We Interrupt This Broadcast podcast called “The Death of Princess Di”, said: “The most searing moment for me was watching her boys take up the walk behind the gun carriage.

“Whatever we may personally or collectively have been feeling in that moment could not compare to what we saw on those boys’ faces.

“We wanted viewers around the world to be able to feel what we were feeling in the moment.

“So, we just watched and listened to the horses clopping, and saw the beautiful flowers laid over Diana’s casket and the heartbreaking note placed among them that simply read Mummy.”

The death of Princess Diana rocked royal fans, with thousands of people leaving tributes, notes and flowers outside royal palaces and at the scene of the car crash.

It is believed that as many as 60 million flowers were left where the incident took place.

The anniversary of the death of Princess Diana continues to be marked by thousands of royal fans and people around the world.

And this year, they will be able to commemorate the Princess of Wales by visiting the new statue commissioned by her sons William and Harry.

The statue of Princess Diana, unveiled on July 1, has been placed in the Sunken Garden, the princess’ favourite spot within her London residence.

Visitors can’t enter the garden but can normally see the statue via Cradle Walk, which surrounds the perimeter of the gardens, from Wednesday to Sunday.

However, Historic Royal Palaces, the charity taking care of Kensington Palace and its ground, has arranged a special opening of Cradle Walk next Tuesday, between 3pm and 5pm.

A spokesman for Historic Royal Palaces said: “We acknowledge that there will be interest in viewing the statue on that day.

“So we will be providing access to the Cradle Walk which is essentially the beautiful walkway around the Sunken Garden.”

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