Princess Diana died 25 years ago, but she has always been a role model for women

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Diana’s story begins with a fairy tale and ends with a Greek tragedy: a handsome prince, a beautiful princess – then fame, betrayal, reinvention and a fatal car accident in Paris 25 years ago.

If Diana lived happily ever after, she would be a 61-year-old royal grandmother today — older, wiser, and probably far less interesting. While Charles had calcified into a state of permanent suspension, Diana had become an archetype, a symbol of resilience and redemption. She is what every woman, or every woman wants her to be.

“I’ve watched her since I was a kid,” said Kristin Tomsovich, 52, who visited Princess Diana’s traveling exhibit at Tysons Corner Mall in Northern Virginia on a recent Saturday. “I watched her get married. I watched her tragic death. I was just a huge fan.” She explained that Diana was “caring, compassionate and loving.” She is a humanitarian.She’s different from the rest of the royal family: “Her personality breaks the mold. She Herself. She didn’t let anyone tell her what to do. “

Tears filled Tomsovich’s eyes. “I’m just sad she’s gone.”

Gone, but never, never forget. If anyone thought that Diana’s death on August 31, 1997, would finally put an end to the endless drama and tabloid stories, they were dead wrong. An estimated 2 billion people watched her funeral, and the ensuing 25 years only added to her reputation. Her story is told and retold – most recently in Netflix’s “The Crown” and last year’s film “Spencer” – with a historic narrative firmly in Diana’s favor: Charles as a careless and unloving man Husband, royal indifference and control, while Diana as a romantic innocence, loving mother, betrayed spouse and perpetual, triumphant princess of the people.

This romanticized depiction of her is indeed on display in the exhibition on this somber anniversary. Tomsovic was one of Diana’s admirers — many older, some younger, almost all women — and she paid $25 to view more than 100 oversized images: fashion legend Diana, trailblazer Diana, role model Diana.

Mariana Orozco, 26, from Mexico, said Diana’s life was “full of love, not rules.” Diana died as a baby, but grew up fascinated by her. She recently got engaged and wears a small blue stone on her left hand: “My whole life I’ve been saying, ‘I want a sapphire like Diana’s.'”

“Her beauty and style quickly attracted people,” explains exhibition curator Cliff Skelliter. “And then there’s a lot of that connection to fairy tales – we love fish out of water stories because they’re a way for us to protect ourselves easily in our characters. So when someone like Diana comes along, all these age-matched, now Women in their 60s and 70s have projected themselves onto this young lady and built this strong bond.”

The 8ft photo was taken by Anwar Hussein and his two sons – one of many royal photographers who have covered Diana’s 16 years in the public eye Every move – his two sons photographed Princes William and Harry and their families. Most of the famous images have appeared in newspapers, magazines and books, but together they serve as a reminder of her brief but dazzling life.

“We can really picture Princess Diana’s humanity by telling these anecdotes about Princess Diana, she’s a real person, learning in front of a ton of cameras, and the whole world is watching her, not necessarily perfect, but Was wondering if she got through it,” Skellett said.

My God, she’s still so young. There’s a picture of Dewdrop Diana, newly engaged, delicious, and charismatic beyond her years. In another example, Charles and Diana left the church after their 1981 wedding. Over 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch the ceremony and the famous balcony kissing ceremony. The groom is 32 and in love with another woman; the bride a few weeks after her 20th birthday.

“I feel bad for her. I remember thinking, ‘Do not do this,’” said Lois Wren, 67. Like many of the women in the exhibit, Wren remembers getting up at 4 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. She was old enough to worry that the new princess would walk into the lion ‘s lair. “It’s so tragic,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s so tragic. “

Her daughter, Laura, 31, watched Diana’s funeral as a child, and her takeaway now is that Diana emerged from that lion’s den without looking down. “I think she’s great,” she said. “She’s not snobbish like other royals. She seems like a very genuine person.” She pointed to a photo of Diana holding a sick child. “No other royal would do that, not even celebrities, maybe not even decent people. But she did.”

“We’ve always been very interested in the royal family,” said Maria Melgar, 25, who attended the exhibition with her mum Martha. “You hear Diana’s name everywhere. She has such a way of connecting with people. She portrays herself as someone you can relate to, one of us.”

Diana and the media: She used them and they used her. until the day she died.

History is an unreliable narrator, and many of the nuances of Diana’s life have faded into the background in favor of a simpler story. She is not Cinderella: her family are nobles, friends of the Queen. She entered a rare circle destined for a prestigious marriage, although the match with the crown prince was a coup for the Spencer family – Diana was the first British woman to marry the heir to the British throne in more than 300 years .

When that bond fell apart, Diana could have lived a quiet, discreet life apart from her husband – but that wasn’t her personality. The unspoken truth in her life (and in the photos) is that Shy Di is very fond of attention and using the spotlight – first because she loves it, and later in her ongoing battle with Charles and the royal family.The constant paparazzi ultimately proved to be a Pandora’s box she couldn’t close, but her public service was both a sincere expression of compassion and A way to win a PR battle.

Exhibits include photos of the infamous Diana alone at the Taj Mahal (at the same location as another William and Kate), as well as stylish Diana in a sexy black ‘revenge dress’ on the night Charles publicly admitted his infidelity . Separation, extramarital affairs and divorce: The end of the fairy tale is the beginning of Diana’s emergence as a modern role model. She’s beautiful and stylish, but it’s her vulnerability, her disappointment, her frustration that resonates with her.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t very interested in her,” says Margaret Kitches. “Once I read Andrew Morton’s biography, I realized it wasn’t all glamour and beauty—she suffered a lot.” What Kizis admired most was Diana’s transformation of that pain into helping others. “We’re all trying to ease our pain and that’s not a bad thing. Sadly, I don’t think she realizes how much people love her.”

The 76-year-old has a trove of books, magazine articles, figurines and china about Diana that she hopes will one day be auctioned off for charity. “She brought kindness to the world, and she touched so many people who needed love, who needed kindness, and who needed humanity.”

How Britain and the world mourned ‘the people’s princess’ Diana

That legacy has been passed on to Diana’s sons, who all now outlive their mother. As the years passed, William, 40, seemed more like his father – no surprise to someone who will one day be king. Harry, who turns 38 next month, has always had his mother’s touch and – now freed from the burden of royal duties – her contempt and sensitivity. The exhibition, which includes photos of the brothers and their families, is a nod to her influence then and now, and what might have happened if she had lived.

“I think she was a forward-thinking woman, especially for women,” said Taylor Stephens, 29, who did a lot for women at the time — and you can see that in the way she raised her kids. It sets a precedent for the rest of the royal family – you can see this in Kate, you can see this in Meghan. She took a very conservative royal family and made them more human. “

Ultimately, history will roughly remember Diana: the beautiful princess, the lonely marriage, the hurt and disenfranchised champion, the woman who touched the pariah.

“One of the things I hope people can bring up is that they have a desire to represent the good things in the world,” said Skellett, the exhibition’s curator. “Because Princess Diana did, right? She showed us how to be A great, dedicated mother and how to navigate an extremely difficult scene in a very tricky and imperfect world. The world is still the same, if we could look at her and say, ‘Okay, we have hope’, then It’s the positive side.”

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