I’m not much of a follower of the British Royalty. I’ve barely raised an eyebrow at Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee celebrations, which started in February, and I can’t tell you much about latest exploits of Prince William and Kate Middleton or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s feud with the rest of the Royal Family.
To me, it’s much to do about nothing. However, I can tell you with a high degree of certainty, that in a month’s time we’re going to be hearing countless stories on the reactions coming from Buckingham Palace. You see, August 31 marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.
She was traveling in a Mercedes-Benz with her boyfriend Emad “Dodi” Fayed when the car crashed into a tunnel along the Seine River in Paris. They had been running from paparazzi following the couple. While Fayed and the car’s driver, Henri Paul, died on the spot, Diana was taken to Paris’ Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. Doctors attempted to save her but she was pronounced dead the following morning.
Her funeral, held on September 6, 1997, was watched by an estimated 2.5 million people around the world and included Elton John singing a version of his 1973 song “Candle in the Wind. Princess Diana was only 36.
The media, of course, will be all over the anniversary, reporting on every different angle. As I mentioned, I don’t follow the Royals, but I am fascinated by something else — that it’s been 25 years. I can’t help but wonder where the years have gone. Princess Diana has never really left our consciousness, her image still shows up regularly on social medial and the tabloids, so it seems like yesterday, but in reality, a lot has happened.
Here’s a few miscellaneous events that have happened since 1997.
–The first book in the Harry Potter series was published in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1997. The book, titled, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was an immediate success in the United Kingdom and was soon released in the U.S. in September 1998 under the name “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The seven book series, written by J.K. Rowling, became a runaway success with movies and inspired the creation of the Universal Studios amusement park.
–After months of rumors and speculation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone January 9, 2007. The device, which didn’t actually go on sale until June, started at $499 for a 4GB model, $599 for the 8GB version (with a two-year contract). The latest version, the iPhone 14, is expected to be announced in mid-September and hit stores a few weeks later.
–In the past two decades, social media has taken off, becoming the method of communication for billions around the world. The biggest social network, Facebook, launched in 2005 and now has nearly 3 billion monthly active users worldwide. Twitter now has 330 million monthly active users. Instant messaging service WhatsApp has 2 billion. And don’t forget online dating sites. The social media good: a more interconnected world. The bad: misinformation, bullying and a loss of privacy.
–In the past 25 years, we’ve experienced the lowest of the lows including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Coronavirus pandemic, and any number of school shootings and the highest of the highs, including the first black U.S. president, the Mars Exploration Rovers Launched in 2003, and online shopping has taken off in huge numbers. 5
–In 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII, winning their first Super Bowl. Princess Diana wasn’t around to see the win, but she was once famously photographed wearing a kelly green and silver Eagles bomber jacket. (When Princess Grace of Monaco died in 1982, Diana went to the funeral, where she met Jack Edelstein, a friend of Princess Grace and a statistician for the Eagles. They happened to talk and later the Eagles ended up sending her the jacket which she wore in front of the paparazzi in the early 90s.
Days turning into years
So, what’s my point of all this? It’s really rather simple, the passage of time waits for no one, Royalty or just plain folk. Like W.H. Auden in his famous poem, “Funeral Blues,” we want to “stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, silence the pianos and with muffled drum, bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”
We want to stop time, but the hands move forward one tick after another. We’d be well advised to remember to live each day like it’s our last.