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But the sudden death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, alongside her lover in a fiery car crash in a Paris tunnel on Aug.

She was a global celebrity in the broadest sense, a woman of startling charisma who became famous when she married the heir to the English throne and even more famous when she divorced him and embarked on a life of her own.

31, 1997, elevated her into something else entirely: a symbol of a nation’s emotional and generational conflicts, a blank slate on which an entire people — and to some extent, the world at large — could project their own fears, prejudices and passions. For a few disorienting weeks, everything seemed up for grabs, including the monarchy itself.

She was born Lady Diana Spencer, the daughter of an earl, in 1961.

We mingled with criminals, leaders, protesters, artists and athletes, many who forever changed their professions.The power of the emotion — and the frenzy whipped up by the tabloid newspapers — all but forced Queen Elizabeth to break with centuries of tradition and protocol and make a public address to the nation. Men, women and children lined the streets and wept as Diana’s coffin went by.Diana is nearly as vivid a figure in death as in life.Althorp, her childhood home, was a stately, drafty pile, crammed with priceless works of art.Her childhood was privileged but lonely — her parents had a terrible divorce — and her education indifferent.