Remembering ‘Diana the person, not Diana the personality:’ Royal insiders pay tribute to the princess on the 24th anniversary of her death

Princess Diana wearing a tiara
Diana, Princess of Wales. Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
  • Tuesday, August 31 marks 24 years since Princess Diana’s death.
  • Insider spoke to Diana’s voice coach, her photographer, and one of the pallbearers at her funeral.
  • They say we must remember “Diana the person” rather than the media personality.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“They became very invasive. She would say: ‘Not now guys, I have to go.’ And they would start swearing at her, saying terrible things,” Princess Diana‘s voice coach Stewart Pearce told Insider of the princess’ relationship with the British paparazzi during a Zoom interview.

Fans across the world are paying tribute to the princess on the 24th anniversary of her death on Tuesday.

But the public didn’t know the real Diana; they knew the media personality created by the press, the same press who wrote often negative headlines and harassed her in the street.

Insider spoke to royal insiders, who shared what the headlines won’t tell you about the princess.

Diana kept herself ‘grounded’ at the height of her fame by doing household chores

Pearce told Insider he met Diana in 1995 through a mutual friend, shortly after her BBC Panorama interview aired. Diana requested Pearce give her voice coaching sessions, and the pair started working together in secret shortly after.

Diana would ask if she could wash his dishes and iron his shirts when she visited him at his studio in Chelsea, Pearce told Insider.

“It was a way of keeping her grounded. Whereas, you know, when she would usually drink a cup of coffee it would immediately be whisked away by a servant,” Pearce, author of “Diana The Voice of Change,” told Insider.

There is no denying the princess’ influence – Shutterstock’s royal photographer Tim Rooke told Insider he decided he wanted to work with the royals after Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles in 1981.

Princess diana prince charles wedding
Princess Diana and Prince Charles kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after their wedding ceremony. Getty Images

Rooke, who was just 16 at the time, said he slept outside Westminster Abbey the night before the nuptials “just to try and get the best spot to capture the celebration.”

He became a royal photographer in 1990, and went on to travel to more than 110 countries with the royal family, many of these with Diana.

He traveled with her to Bosnia as part of her campaign against landmines in 1997 weeks before she died.

“I photographed the princess with her butler, Paul Burrell, at Sarajevo Airport. Initially, I was annoyed that her butler was in the picture since photos of her alone were more sought after,” Rooke told Insider.

“However, the image I captured is one of the only pictures of the two of them, and Paul says it is his favorite of himself and the princess. It’s the power of photography in its long-lasting impact that truly inspires me to this day,” he added.

Princess diana and paul burrell
Princess Diana and Paul Burrell in London. Anthony Jones/ UK Press via Getty Images

That same year, Pearce said he was able to help the royal conquer public speaking, and that a “huge shift” was evident during a charity event she attended in New York in 1997.

“She was talking about compassion in attitude towards children when someone in the audience said, ‘Where are your children?'” Pearce said. “And rather than being completely taken aback, Diana said, ‘At school where I want them to be, is that okay?'”

“It was without defense, without repulse,” he added.

Remembering ‘Diana the person, not the personality’ 24 years after her death

The princess died from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

Since Diana was the Princess of Wales, it fell to the Welsh Guards regiment of the British army to be the pallbearers at the funeral.

More than 1 million people lined the streets of London to watch the funeral procession from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey on September 6, BBC News reported.

Richard Williams, 53, is a former Captain of the Welsh Guards. He spoke to Insider about his experience as a pallbearer at the funeral, saying he was taken aback by the “extraordinary visceral wail from the crowd” that gathered outside.

Princess diana tributes buckingham palace
Tributes were left outside Buckingham Palace ahead of Princess Diana’s funeral. John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images

“I think we slightly surprised ourselves as a nation with Diana’s funeral, with the frenzy and outpouring of grief,” Williams said.

William and Harry honored their mother on what would have been her 60th birthday on Juy 1, coming together to unveil a statue in her memory at Kensington Palace.

“Prince Harry and Prince William share an unwavering love and respect for their mother, and no doubt this will be the key message to come out of the day,” Rooke told Insider ahead of the unveiling.

Meanwhile, Williams said he hoped the unveiling “will be a chance to reflect and remember Diana the person, not Diana the personality.”

“A person who clearly at times was a troubled soul, but had a lot of very good qualities, many of which probably weren’t reflected in the personality created by the press,” he added.