I’d heard there’d been a car accident on Saturday night. As a producer at GMTV, I offered to come in to help out on the story. We all thought she’d survived, a bit shaken up but nothing more than that.
I was sitting at my computer when I saw the short item drop on the Press Association wires. Diana had died. Two things hit me, the utter sadness of her death and then, the fact that this was the biggest story I would ever work on in my life. Period.
The usual short Sunday Programme was scrapped for a full show fronted by Fiona Phillips. Her husband Martin Frizzel and I were dispatched to Kensington Palace – the first reporters there when the flowers started to arrive.
A week later, I returned to Kensington Palace. The gardens had become a sea of flowers and candles. As I walked amongst the hundreds keeping vigil that night before the funeral, the smell stood out – petals diffused with candle wax. It was quite overpowering, almost overwhelming. Like her death.
Some people say the public’s grief was misplaced, that we were caught up in a national hysteria but I don’t agree.
We’ve all lost friends or families way before their time so we could all empathise with William and Harry. For that week, we were all one family.
I just wish sometimes that that common sense of belonging, solidarity and empathy could be replicated more often and in less tragic circumstances.