By Tahiat Mahboob  
“She was the people’s princess. And that’s how she will stay, how she will remain, in our hearts and in our memories, forever.”
— Tony Blair

On August 31, 1997, Britain woke up to the news of a tragic death. Diana, Princess of Wales, had been in a fatal car crash in Paris while she was being chased by the paparazzi. She was only 36. The nation was awash with grief, and condolences poured in from all corners of the world.

Diana: Seven Days That Shook the World, a two-part documentary, takes viewers through the dramatic moments that played out in the week leading up to Princess Diana’s funeral and captures the magnitude of the mourning that ensued.

“It was our moment of real shock at a cataclysmic, unexpected tragedy,” says Camilla Tominey, Royal Editor at the Sunday Express, featured in the documentary.

Princess Diana was, as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair described, “the people’s princess.” Her ability to relate to ordinary people set her apart from the monarchy. And in the days following her death, the British people’s devastation was abundantly visible.

“You could smell it. You could see it. You could hear it,” says Anji Hunter, a former Director of Government Relations. “There were hundreds of people carrying the flowers. We were completely gobsmacked.”

As thousands came to London to pay their respects, a carpet of blooms stretching more than 50-feet appeared in front of Kensington Palace. It was estimated that 15 tons of bouquets or 60 million individual flowers, were scattered throughout London in the days that followed.

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Five books of condolence were set up at St. James's Palace. By the third day of mourning, that number grew to 43 and mourners waited up to 12 hours to sign. Over half a million people left messages. More and more people flocked to church seeking comfort and suicide help lines received a record number of calls in the week following the accident.

Princess of Diana funeralPrincess Diana's funeral

The British Broadcasting Corporation announced that its televised coverage of the funeral would be seen in 187 countries in 44 languages — the largest live broadcast in the BBC’s 75-year history. It was later reported that 32.1 million viewers tuned into BBC and ITV on September 6, 1997, to watch the funeral. An estimated 2.5 billion people watched worldwide.

Six days after the crash that claimed her life, Princess Diana’s funeral cortege made its way through the streets of London, from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey. More than a million people crowded the four-mile procession route to pay their respects. Two thousand guests filled the pews at Westminster Abbey to say their final goodbyes. From Margaret Thatcher to Hillary Clinton to Steven Spielberg, the guest list included family, friends, heads of state and celebrities from around the world. It was the biggest funeral in British history.

"Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty,” said her brother Charles Spencer in his eulogy. “All over the world, she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality.”

After the funeral, as the hearse made its way to the Spencer family estate of Althorp, hundreds of thousands of people gathered along the 77-mile route for a final goodbye. When it reached Althorp, the coffin was taken to an island at the centre of an ornamental lake on the grounds of the estate and Princess Diana was finally laid to rest.

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