What Diana meant to East Anglia: Your memories of the People’s Princess

PUBLISHED: 09:43 27 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 29 August 2017

Princess Diana during a visit to Riddlesworth Hall in April 1989. Photo: Archant Library

Princess Diana during a visit to Riddlesworth Hall in April 1989. Photo: Archant Library

As the 20th anniversary of her death approaches, we asked our readers to share their memories and thoughts on Princess Diana. Here’s a look at what you had to say...

Princess Diana shaking hands with residents of Bury St Edmunds. Photo: Archant LibraryPrincess Diana shaking hands with residents of Bury St Edmunds. Photo: Archant Library

“I cried buckets” Jessica Jennings, Norwich

I thought she was a lovely, lovely person. I remember, after school one day going down to the old N&N as she was officially opening or revealing a plaque or something. I remember holding on to the railings in font of the hospital and catching sight of her in real life. I will also never forget the day I heard the news she had died - I was utterly shocked and incredibly sad and upset. I cried buckets watching her funeral and I feel protective over William and Harry and hate it when people are so nasty about them. She was a force for good in both the Royal Family and also the World in general. I loved her and wish she was still here.

“I loved her hairstyles” Sharon Elaine, North Walsham

It was an exciting time watching her blossom from a shy young lady. She was like family. Myself being a hairstylist I loved seeing her hair styled and my clients and I used to chat about her lovingly. She definitely changed the royals for the better.


“A breath of fresh airPat Bloomfield, Stowmarket

A breath of fresh air for the Royal family, they were so dated they would have done well to follow her example. Best thing apart from the princes and Kate to have happened to royal family in hundreds of years.

“I wasn’t a fan, but I am now” Liz Nice, Editor

I wasn’t much of a fan of Diana when she was alive. I got sick of seeing all the pictures of her in a swimsuit, living the high life, and then going on TV bleating about how hard things were for her. At least, that’s how I saw it then. I think history has been kind to Diana though. I’m pretty sure most women now look at how she responded to her situation and even though hers was a life of privilege that few of us can ever imagine, we probably all feel that in her shoes we would have done the same. Diana felt she had been ill used and she wasn’t prepared to accept that. She fought. She stuck up for herself in the best way she knew. I think she was saying, ‘I deserve better than being just a brood mare’. And she did deserve better. Every woman does. Some of her charity work was groundbreaking. She stuck her neck out over AIDS when few others were brave enough. She made her sons visit the homeless. She was genuine, I believe, in her desire to make a better world. She was also, it seems, a fantastic mother who refused to do motherhood according to the expectations upon her- determined instead to follow her instincts. All any of us can do is play the hand we are dealt to the best of our ability. Diana did that. I wish I hadn’t let the negative press around her colour my view of her when she was alive. I admire that however much she was told to pipe down, she carried on regardless. When people said she was mad, as they always do when a woman shows feeling or passion over anything, she never seemed to be cowed. She made sure her voice was heard - and today, it is still being heard and people are still listening. Well done her.

Princess Diana with the mayor, walking outside the Crown Pools. Photo: Archant LibraryPrincess Diana with the mayor, walking outside the Crown Pools. Photo: Archant Library

“My parents told me off for lying” David Hannant, Norwich

I was nine at the time of Diana’s death and remember it being a Sunday. Like I would do every Sunday, I got up early to watch Soccer Extra, a football magazine show and the presenter broke the news. I rushed into my mum and dad’s bedroom and told them what I’d heard. My mum - whose birthday it was - proceeded to give me a massive lecture on how you should never make up horrible things like that. Then they switched on the television in their bedroom. It was the one and only time I received a telling off and was completely innocent.

“She was so gentle” Sophie Yaxley Williamson

I gave her a bunch of flowers when she visited Norfolk to open Splash in Sheringham. I was only six, but I still remember her bending down to my level and asking my name. She was so softly spoken and gentle. A lovely memory for me to have.


“I am no fan” Gale Barnes

Only met her once at Silverstone Grand Prix. Wasn’t that impressed, didn’t have time for us working marshals and nearly got run over posing for the press. Princess Caroline was there as well and she stopped and talked to us. I think it was an awful way to die and feel so very sorry that the princes lost their mother, but I am no fan.

“A special person” Marianne Louise, Norwich

I loved seeing her pictures, I admired her as a mother in difficult circumstances, I was very sad when she died, and I miss seeing her. I think she was a special person.

Princess Diana on her visit of Colchester in 1988. Photo: Archant LibraryPrincess Diana on her visit of Colchester in 1988. Photo: Archant Library

“What lovely hair she had” Veronica Storey, North Walsham

I was at the opening ceremony of Splash leisure centre in Sheringham and shook hands with Princess Diana. I was most taken with how blue her eyes were and what lovely hair she had.

“When will this end?” Sarah Chambers, Suffolk

When will this end? We have indulged in this daft orgy of grief for far too long. Why is it considered an achievement for a woman to marry royalty? When will we grow up as a nation and stop creating fantasy worlds filled with princesses and TV celebrities? I find the whole thing rather depressing because of what it says about us. I didn’t know Diana, and neither did most of the people commenting on her.

On Princess Diana's visit to Ipswich she also visited Christchurch Park. Photo: Archant LibraryOn Princess Diana's visit to Ipswich she also visited Christchurch Park. Photo: Archant Library

“A true princess” Alan Connel

She gave nothing but love and happiness as was her faith. She gave all she could, she gave herself. As the doors of Mother Earth closed behind her that day in a Parisian underpass, the gates of paradise swung wide and welcomed in a true princess.

“A great lady” Eileen Bush

Diana was so wonderful and a great lady, bless her.

Newspaper page on Princess Diana. Photo: Archant LibraryNewspaper page on Princess Diana. Photo: Archant Library

“A force for good” Ross Bentley, Editor, Business East Monthly

If I have any interest in Diana, it is as a social phenomenon rather than for her as a person. The great outpouring of grief at her death was an incredible happening – the country came to a standstill. But why did so many people feel such extreme sorrow, as if they had lost a member of their own family? It’s similar to the times when a well-known soap opera character dies and people mourn their passing, as if they knew them personally. To a great extent, the Diana that the masses knew was a media creation – she was the most photographed and filmed person in the world. And because of her high profile she was able to be a force for good. The images of her holding hands with leprosy sufferers and hugging people with AIDS were incredibly powerful and must have helped in breaking down barriers and reducing prejudice.

“A lovely lady” Maureen Hall, Norwich

A lovely lady, who did not deserve how they treated her.

. JULY 1983. Photo: Archant LibraryROYAL FAMILY PRINCESS DIANA VISIT TO KINGS LYNN . JULY 1983. Photo: Archant Library

“I don’t understand all the fuss” Grace Roberts, Norwich

My much loved mum died nearly eleven years ago. She lived in York and I in Norwich. When she died, I mourned her and grieved for her. But, I didn’t miss her. She was not part of my life in Norwich the same as I wasn’t part of hers. Had I lived with her, it would have been different. So I honestly fail to understand how people can miss someone they never knew or interacted with, or spoke to on a daily basis. It is beyond my comprehension. Diana Spencer did nothing for me, I thought she was manipulative and egotistical and a trouble causer. So, there are my thoughts. No doubt I’ll be slated for it, but I care not a jot.

“I was six at the time” Matt Reason

As someone who was just six at the time, the thing that defines her for me is the side-splitting Stewart Lee skit about the inflatable alien in amongst the flowers. Apart from that, to me she is just a dead royal person who the Daily Express and Daily Mail seem bafflingly obsessed with. So really, I would just tell people to search YouTube for Stewart Lee on Princess Diana…

“Irreplaceable” Carole Arminger

An amazing, beautiful, irreplaceable woman. Saw her twice when she opened the Splash pool at Sheringham and at the N&N later that day.

“A wonderful, loving, caring lady for so many of us” Sandra Turner, Ipswich

Princess Diana meant a lot to me in so many ways, as she was a wonderful, loving, caring lady 
for so many of us. She also did so much for charities around the world and for so many people who she saw needed or 
deserved it. She spoke what she thought when she was asked anything.

She also gave birth to two loving, caring Princes and brought them up so well to follow in her footsteps to this day and will never be forgotten by me and many more people.

“A wonderful mother” Kathy Adams

Lovely lady, beautiful and a wonderful mother to her boys.

“Never be another one like her” Di Howes, Norwich

There will never be another one like her, most beautiful in every way. Such a shame she was used and abused, thank god for her loving boys.

“She was gracious” Lynne Mortimer, Features Writer for East Anglian Daily Times

After giving birth to my first baby in April 1981, I returned to work the week of the Royal Wedding because I knew I would get a day off! The nearest I got to Diana was at the Suffolk Show in 1986. By then I was writing a column for the Ipswich Evening Star called Mum on Monday and the editor asked me to go to the Show and write about the princess. The public (of which I was one member) were kept behind barriers such was the draw of Diana. She was gracious and, I recall, quietly spoken as she greeted people. She used her privileged position to become a powerful ambassador for the forgotten victims – the ones no one wanted to acknowledge. The homeless, people with HIV/AIDS, those living in former war zones, surrounded by landmines. Her compassion disconcerted governments and often compelled them to act. After her death, flowers were left at the Town Hall steps in Ipswich, more and more of them. Suddenly, we would have no more picture of the most photographed woman in the world.

Please note that we will be running a number of articles about Diana in the paper next week, and next Saturday, your Weekend section will feature special coverage of Diana’s impact on the region as well as an in-depth look at her childhood in the region, 
through the eyes of those who knew her

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