The People’s Princess
by Laurence Chilcott
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To consider the life of Princess Diana.
Preparation and materials
- Gather some images of Princess Diana and have the means to display them during the assembly.
- The country has recently celebrated the birth of another royal baby, born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. To be born into the royal family is both a privilege and a responsibility. Princess Charlotte will have many advantages in life . . . but she will also know what it is like to have newspapers and magazines constantly commenting on her clothes, her looks and her actions. Today, our assembly looks at the life of her grandmother, after whom she was named.
- At some time in their lives, many little girls dream of becoming a princess. For Lady Diana Spencer, that dream came true in 1981 when she married Prince Charles at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It was, many thought, a ‘fairytale wedding’ and was watched on television by around 750 million people all over the world. Her wedding gown was thought to be worth around £9,000 and it had a train of fine lace that was more than 7 metres long.
Sadly, the marriage did not last and, in 1996, Prince Charles and Lady Diana divorced. In 1997, tragically, Lady Diana died in a car accident in Paris.
- The days before her funeral saw an outpouring of public grief that had never been known before. People queued for as long as seven hours to sign the books of condolence; at Kensington Palace, where she lived, piles of flowers more than a metre high were left outside the gates by members of the public. Over a million people lined the route as her coffin was taken to the funeral service at Westminster Abbey and afterwards as it was taken to her final resting place at the family estate at Althorp, in Northamptonshire.
- Why did so many people mourn someone they had never met? What was it about her that caused the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to refer to her as the 'People’s Princess'?
It was not simply because she was a princess, nor was it because she was a glamorous woman with beautiful clothes. It was because she cared, because she had compassion for ordinary people who were suffering.
- During her short life she had supported many charities and that brought their work to the attention of more people. She worked to raise awareness of the danger of landmines, for example. Long after a war is over, landmines that are left and forgotten about become a great danger to people in the area, children especially. She visited the homeless and the sick in hospitals around the world and was often seen holding and comforting young children and babies. She touched a person with AIDS when many believed it could be transmitted by such casual contact and demonstrated that sufferers need compassion and kindness.
- Many envied Lady Diana when she married Prince Charles. They thought the wealth and status that went with her position would bring nothing but happiness. Sadly, her life was not idyllic life; there was much hurt and disappointment. We will never know exactly what happened, but her compassion and care are the positive side of her life that she is remembered for.
- Lots of people think that success means being rich and famous, but having these things may not result in happiness. Some qualities – care, kindness and friendship – can bring us more satisfaction and joy than we might expect and they cannot be bought.
Time for reflection
Consider how the media can often be intrusive and sensationalist and contribute to the sadness and distress that individuals feel when things go wrong.
Discuss the qualities that we find attractive in other people.
Think about how grief affects us and how it may be expressed by different people and different cultures.
We thank you for the memories of people who have gone before.
Some we have been told about, some we have read about and some we have known for ourselves.
May we appreciate the good they have done and try to follow their example.
Help us to develop those qualities that bring hope and happiness to others.