A last Royalty item . . .
“ ... of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this: a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.”
- Charles Edward Maurice Spencer
9th Earl of Spencer
From his eulogy for Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana was killed on 31 August 1997 in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris. Her funeral was held in Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997and was watched by over 100 million people around the world. Diana’s brother Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer, said of his sister in his eulogy, in reference to her divorce from Prince Charles one year earlier, "She proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic." Diana was buried on the Earl's ancestral estate, Althorn, where he built a mausoleum and a museum to Diana's memory, displaying her wedding dress and other personal effects. The museum was thrown open to the paying public in 1998 with all profits going to Diana's Memorial Fund, also set up by the Earl.
Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. In accordance, as she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales, Diana lost the style Her Royal Highness and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day the decree absolute of divorce was issued, announcing Diana's change of title, but made it clear Diana continued to be a British princess.
Diana was the fourth child of the Viscount and Viscountess Althorn, one of Great Britain’s oldest and most important families. Tina Brown, in her book The Diana Chronicles, recounts that almost a year before her death, the Duke of Edinburgh, referring to Diana’s HRH title, had warned the Princess of Wales, "If you don't behave, my girl, we'll take your title away.” The Princess, referring to her lineage as the daughter of Lord and Lady Althorn, is said to have replied: "My title is a lot older than yours, Philip"
The following is from a report in the Mail Online (the online version of the Daily Mail, a UK newspaper), 16 March 2006, in respect of Earl Spencer’s eulogy:
In his five-minute, electrifying funeral tribute, the Earl accused the Press of turning Diana into "the most hunted person of the modern age", claiming the media had pushed her to the extent that she "talked endlessly of getting away from England".
Assessing the impact on William and Harry, he told the congregation: "On behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative, loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men, so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition but can sing openly as you planned."
Writing in The Spectator magazine today, Mr Brandreth said: "The Queen, at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, was disappointed with the address given by Diana's brother, not because of Charles Spencer's ungracious remarks about the Royal Family, but because Spencer's speech failed to do justice to his sister's memory.
"Spencer was so busy knocking the press and insulting the royals, he left himself no time to pay proper tribute to Diana's manifold gifts and achievements.
"The Queen (who takes her religion seriously) was especially saddened by the fact that her godson (Spencer) failed to acknowledge the importance to Diana of her personal faith."
(There is apparently no truth to the rumour that prior to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the latter asked the Queen for advice on marriage and a long relationship, and that the Queen responded “Wear a seatbelt and don’t piss me off.”)