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Royals, Part 4: Shock and sorrow

England's Rose: After her separation from Charles, Diana seemed more at ease with the media -- and with herself  

By CNN's Richard Quest

LONDON, England (CNN) -- As parts of Windsor Castle crumbled in flames, a royal marriage also headed for ruin.

By the end of 1992, Prince Charles and Diana were legally separated. Diana said the media spotlight was partly to blame.

"I realize their attention would focus on our private and public lives ... but I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become ... and how it would affect my public duties and my personal life," Diana said.

After the separation, Diana appeared more at ease with the press and herself and was acting more confident.

People in the news
presents a special report by
CNN's Richard Quest
Part 1: Rise to power 
Part 2: Fairytale and nightmare 
Part 3: Troubled times 
Part 4: Shock and sorrow 
Part 5: Coming of age 
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"The freedom she had, once out of her cage -- it empowered her," says Diana biographer Lady Colin Campbell.

And although Diana said she'd rather not divorce Prince Charles, she received a letter from the queen which suggested that for the sake of the children, Diana and Charles should be divorced sooner rather than later.

The divorce was final in August 1996. Diana won a settlement estimated at $27 million but lost the right to the title "Her Royal Highness."

After the divorce, Diana dug deeper into charity work, making appearances in support of a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

"I don't think people would have signed up ... (against) landmines if she hadn't focused on it," said Diana's brother, Charles Spencer.

Diana was linked romantically to Dodi Fayed, the 42-year-old son of wealthy businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed.

"He was very soft, sweet and he gave Diana all the attention she lusted after," Campbell said.

Dubbed "the princess and the playboy," the couple were pictured in Britain's tabloid newspapers.

'Diana is dead'

In August 1997, eight weeks after her 36th birthday, Diana joined Fayed for a vacation in Paris.

Di and Dodi
Diana and Dodi Fayed died on August 31 in Paris, when their car crashed while trying to elude photographers  

In the early morning hours of August 31, Diana and Fayed died in a car crash as their driver sped to elude paparazzi, including photographers on motorcycles.

"I called my middle sister, Jane, whose husband works for the queen," said Spencer. "I heard him say 'Oh no' and then Jane said, 'I'm afraid that is it ... She's dead.'

"I was sitting there, and my daughters came in, and I said, 'Aunt Diana is dead,' and then one of my little girls said, 'Not in real life, Daddy.'"

In the hours after Diana's death, the royal family remained stoic. But public outcry -- including newspaper headlines such as, "Where is our queen? Where is her flag?" and "Show us you care" -- eventually pushed the monarchy to acknowledge the pain.

On the day of her funeral, millions lined the streets of London to say goodbye as a gun carriage took Diana's body from her home at Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey.

"I'm not so sure that there will ever be another Diana. ... I think in some ways she was like Jackie -- someone who is absolutely perfect for the time."
-- Diana biographer Lady Colin Campbell

Prince Charles, Princes William and Harry and Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, walked behind. Attached to a wreath on her coffin was a letter from Harry to his mother.

Diana's grace, her generosity, her kindness epitomized all that the people of Britain wanted from royalty. In their grief, many subjects hoped the Windsors might take a lesson from Diana's life.

"They should take a ... few leads from Diana's book," said one Briton. "She said it all. She'd done it all. She belonged to us. ... She was a normal person."

Though the woman affectionately known as "The People's Princess" was gone, her legacy lived on.

Honouring her work

"It was easy to see the cover of People magazine -- she was on the cover 80-odd times -- and see the glamorous dresses or the marital difficulties," says Spencer.

Millions turned out on London's streets to mourn Diana; her palace gates were covered in floral tributes  

"But to get to the substance of her work -- it's almost that she had to die before people realized what she had done."

To honour Diana's humanitarian efforts, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was set up five days after her death.

"We try to prioritise some of the most disadvantaged people of all who have to struggle with stigma and prejudice as well as physical suffering, because she did," says the foundation's Andrew Parkis.

The foundation, which has raised more than $67 million, distributes funds to dozens of causes Diana took up, including AIDS prevention, the hospice movement and land mine clearance.

"She'll never grow old, just as the movie icons James Dean and Marilyn Monroe."
-- Diana's brother, Charles Spencer

"We do that in difficult areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan," says Parkis. "But we feel that is in the tradition shown to us by Diana, Princess of Wales."

But it is Diana's living legacy that gets most of the attention: Prince Harry and the man who will be king, Prince William.

Next: Coming of age




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