It was 20 years ago that I woke up in the middle of the night on a Sunday. I was very much awake so I turned on the TV to discover that Princess Diana had died. I knew she had been in a car accident before I had gone to sleep. The newscaster said that the most photographed woman in the world was in a car accident but did not say who. I spent several minutes going through famous movie actresses of the time (Julia Roberts?) trying to imagine who it would be. Finally the news anchor said that it was Diana, Princess of Wales. I had never thought of her.
I immediately felt sorry for her two sons. I was born right between them, so it was easy to empathize with them, facing a horrific loss. However, I did not expect what would happen the following week. Several times I would see the footage on the news and ask, “Mom, dad, why are people acting like this?!” For a few weeks, I wanted to study psychology to find out why people behaved the way they did that week. (I have great sympathy for character of Prince Phillip in the movie The Queen when he says, “Sleeping on the streets, pulling out their hair, for someone they never knew. And they think we’re mad!) I don’t mean to be totally harsh on the people who mourned her so publicly, but it is a bizarre moment in recent history, and it is hard to say how important it was. (I read in Wikipedia that a poll shortly afterwards found that British people thought that Diana’s death was the most important event in 20th century British history. Take that VE Day! Screw you Indian and Pakistani Independence and Loss of the Empire!)
But, I did study history in college, and I am curious to see what I can gather from the news footage from the time. Fortunately, there is ton of it on Youtube. So I plan to watch some of it and blog about it.
I eventually plan to do the same thing about 9/11, but that seems a far heavier task.