Royals

Kiwi stars recall day Princess Diana died

Kiwi stars recall that sad, tragic day in August 1997.

Where were you when Diana died?” It’s a question everyone remembers the answer to.

In remembrance of the People’s Princess, we asked some well-known Kiwis to relive the day they heard the horrible news and how they remember the tragic royal.

Daniel Corbett

“I was working at a CBS Affiliate in the States (Texas). We had just finished our Saturday evening 10pm news. I was actually joining the BBC the following month and had planned a look-see visit the following week. I flew over and was in London in the week just after her death.

I remember going to Kensington Palace to pay my respects and the massive collections of flower bouquets were like nothing you have ever seen. Most of the grounds of Kensington Palace were covered in bouquets.

The atmosphere was, as you’d expect, very sad, but people from all over the world were there paying their respects as well.”

Rachel Smalley

“I knew the implications of her death would be huge for the royal family and the media, but I wasn’t prepared for the raft of emotions that I felt in the following days and weeks.

The image of her two sons walking behind her coffin is an image that will never leave me. And now that I am a mother myself, I find it even more confronting.”

Rebecca Wright

“Princess Diana died on my 17th birthday, which I knew would make marrying Prince William awkward. My girlfriends and I were driving back from the beach in Wellington when the announcement came over the car radio.

At first we thought it was a joke but we drove home, turned on the TV and watched the rolling coverage of those incredible scenes all night.”

Bernadine Oliver-Kerby

“I had been out with my dad in Hamilton and we were pulling back into the farm when a news report came across the radio announcing her death. My dad turned the engine off and we sat in the Toyota Hilux, unable to believe what we were hearing.

It packed quite a punch as we had just lost Mum 18 months beforehand so we were already feeling raw and filled with a sense of loss. It was a surreal moment I’ll never forget.”

Brian Kelly

“I was in Tauranga at home renovating our house when I heard the news on the radio. I couldn’t quite believe it, so I turned the TV on and waited for the first pictures to come through. We had two young children at home – Amy was five and Mark was two.

When the newspaper came out the next day, we kept it and still have it today.”

Samantha Hayes

“I was walking down the street in Milton with my friend when she told me Diana had died. I remember thinking, ‘I’ll never forget this moment.’ I was 13 years old and to me, she was too important, too famous to be killed in a car accident.

Princess Diana’s legacy lives on in her sons and the charity work they have continued in her name. She also brought the royal family back down to earth, reconnected them with everyday people by reminding them that even princesses aren’t perfect.”

Amanda Gillies

“I was – and still am – fascinated by Princess Diana, the glamorous People’s Princess. I had just turned 21 and started my first full-time job at Gisborne’s Radio 2ZG when it was announced that Princess Diana had died. I was truly stunned by the news.

It was a surreal moment, nobody could, or wanted to, believe it. She had achieved so much in her 36 years – from helping to shatter the stigma around Aids to fighting to ban landmines.

But her greatest legacy is her children, William and Harry, who do their very best to be ordinary men. No airs or graces – she would be proud.”

Peter Williams

“I was visiting Wellington and heard early on the Sunday morning that Diana had been involved in an accident. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it. The early reports were nothing to be concerned about, I thought. Soon after, I was driving out to the Hutt Valley and had an accident myself (it wasn’t my fault!).

So I arrived at my destination with a dinged car, somewhat distraught and not having listened to the radio because of my mishap. I wanted sympathy for my predicament, but I got none because all everybody cared about was Diana’s death.

The following Saturday night I remember being in tears watching the funeral and being especially moved by the sight of those young boys walking behind the carriage. William and Harry are about the same age as my kids.

My children had lost their mum less than a year previously and the thought of children, as young teens, being without a mother filled me with more grief. I’m pleased to say, that like William and Harry, my children have done their mother proud too.”

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