Ninteen years ago today people in Birmingham were waking to the dreadful news that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris.

Her tragic death, in the early hours of August 31, 1997 led to a huge outpouring of grief among the British public who laid masses of floral tributes in her memory.

The tragedy happened in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France.

Her lover, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz S280, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene; the bodyguard of Diana and Dodi, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor.

Although the media blamed the paparazzi following the car, and there were many conspiracy theories, an 18-month French judicial investigation found that the crash was caused by Paul, who lost control of the car at high speed while drunk.

Diana's death was met with extraordinary public expressions of grief, and her funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 6 drew an estimated 3 million mourners and onlookers in London and worldwide TV coverage watched by 2.5 billion people.

It was shown in 200 countries and in 44 languages.Singer Elton John performed a new version of his song “Candle in the Wind” at the service.

Those who mourned had been in raptures when she and Prince Charles had married in July, 1981.

More than one million bouquets were left at her London home, Kensington Palace, while at her family’s estate of Althorp, in Northamptonshire, the public was asked to stop bringing flowers as the volume of people and flowers in the surrounding roads was said to be causing a threat to public safety.

Some criticised the reaction to Diana’s death at the time as being “hysterical” and “irrational”.

Had she lived, she would now be in her mid 50s.

She is still missed by millions and for those who loved her, today will be a sombre one where they recall the vibrant princess we lost so tragically.

COURTESY: Birmingham Mail