The people’s princess. Princess Diana’s nieces revealed how she protected them from the paparazzi before her death in 1997.
In an interview with Tatler on Monday, January 25, the Princess of Wales‘ nieces—Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer—opened up about how their aunt protected them from unwanted photographers when they were 5 years old. In the interview, Amelia and Liza recalled accompany Diana to Noordheok Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, when they were young girls. When the sisters were approached by a photographer at the beach, Eliza revealed that Diana took them quickly back to their car without scaring them.
“Obviously it could have been quite terrifying for us, being so young and not understanding what was happening. But she turned it into a game of who could get back to the car first,” Eliza said. “It was amazing how she protected us in a way that made us feel safe and not frightened. We had no idea what she was doing at the time.”
Princess Diana died in 1997 after her car crashed in a road tunnel in Paris following a chase from the paparazzi. The driver of the car, Henri Paul, and Diana’s partner, Dodi Fayed, also died in the accident. In the Tatler interview, Eliza went on to talk about how she didn’t know how famous her family, including Princess Diana, was until she was much older. Eliza and Amelia are the daughters of Earl Charles Spencer, Diana’s younger brother.
“Growing up in South Africa, I really had very little idea of how significant she was in the world until I was much older,” she said. “As a child, I realized the enormity of the loss for my father and family. It was only later that I came to understand the significance of the loss of her as a figure in the world.”
Eliza went on to describe Princess Diana as “incredibly warm, maternal and loving.” “She always made an effort to connect with us as children and had a talent for reading children’s hearts,” she said. Eliza also talked about how her family is “very open” about discussing mental health, an issue that Diana helped to de-stigmatize in her life. “It was never something that we felt afraid to talk about when we had our own struggles,” Eliza said.
Amelia added, “We have come a long way in terms of the conversations, and I hope there will come a time when the stigma is completely removed and that people will be able to ask for help and not feel judged for having mental health issues or struggling emotionally.”