Princess Diana

JOEL ROBINE:/AFP via Getty Images

This Was the Most-Watched Televised Funeral in History

Her death shocked the world
Princess Diana

JOEL ROBINE:/AFP via Getty Images

After tragically dying at the age of 36, the People’s Princess, Princess Diana, was publicly mourned and memorialized during a televised funeral on Sept. 6, 1997. Around the globe, an estimated 2.5 billion people tuned in to watch, the most viewers ever for a televised funeral. 

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One of history’s most famous and influential women, Diana, princess of Wales, lived a life of unparalleled popularity and public scrutiny. Often, Diana leveraged her fame to shine light on worthy charities and causes, including the AIDS epidemic and banning the use of landmines.

Diana was long one of the world’s most photographed women. She, her partner, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, all died following a car crash in a tunnel under Paris on Aug. 31, 1997. Paparazzi had begun chasing the car following the couple’s retreat from the glamorous hotel the Ritz Paris.

Diana’s funeral was and remains unprecedented. Images of the Princess’s young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, her former husband Prince Charles, father-in-law Prince Philip and brother Charles Spencer walking behind her coffin on the way to Westminster Abbey are iconic. So are photos of her flower-laden casket topped with a letter from 12-year-old Harry addressed to “Mummy.”

At Diana’s funeral, friend Elton John performed an altered rendition of “Candle in the Wind.” The tribute song has since sold 33 million copies worldwide and is regarded as the best-selling single since U.S. and U.K. singles charts began in the 1950s.

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