With Britain commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on Thursday, we looked at archival photographs and the pages of The New York Times to remember how her life was seen as she lived it.
Thrust Into the Spotlight
Tabloids called it the “wedding of the century.” The BBC estimated that 750 million worldwide watched it on television. The Times did not make Diana and Charles’s wedding the top article on its front page the next morning — the honor went to a 25 percent tax cut —but a photo of the couple was prominent. Our correspondent R.W. Apple reported:
All the panoply of monarchy was deployed on this, one of the great days in the history of the House of Windsor: the stirring music of Handel and Purcell and Elgar; the Household Cavalry, in their burnished breastplates and helmets with red plumes; the stately royal horses, caparisoned in silver; almost all of the reigning sovereigns of Europe, come in their finery to share in the happy occasion, and the royal bride herself, resplendent in a gown of pale ivory, with puffy sleeves and a train 25 feet long.
The marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to the Prince of Wales vaulted her into the role of a national emissary for Britain as a member of the royal family. When she and Charles visited the White House in 1985, The Times treated it with excited front page coverage, declaring, “The British Have Landed and Washington Is Taken.”
Frances X. Clines, reporting for The Times that day, noted a sense of spectacle in a usually demure press corps:
“A crush of American journalists, inquiring after the Princess’ wardrobe and whims, camped around the capital to record a varied itinerary that was protected by a throng of security guards. ‘What happened to her red hat?’ a reporter shouted at a royal spokesman at the White House, asking about…