The mo­ment we heard: high-pro­file Kiwi women share their mem­o­ries of Diana’s death

They’ve in­formed us of some of the world’s big­gest events but these broad­cast­ers will never for­get the mo­ment they learnt Princess Diana had died. Judy Bai­ley, Hi­lary Barry and Sa­man­tha Hayes re­call that fate­ful day.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

My beloved dad died just five days later. I thought at the time that Diana would have won­der­ful com­pany.

For a woman whose life was any­thing but or­di­nary, it seemed like the sort of ev­ery­day death any of the rest of us might have.”

Diana was the peo­ple’s princess, an icon and hu­man­i­tar­ian. She was the first of a new breed of royal – real, pas­sion­ate, com­plex, fal­li­ble.”

JUDY BAI­LEY

I was en­joy­ing a week­end on the Coro­man­del with my fam­ily when the news came through about Diana’s death. I was sure there’d been a mis­take – she may have had a car ac­ci­dent but surely she wasn’t dead. So when the de­tails came, my first re­ac­tion was shock and dis­be­lief. My beloved dad died just five days later. I thought at the time that Diana would have won­der­ful com­pany. Diana had been so much a part of world news for so long. We had fol­lowed her ro­mance with Prince Charles, had par­ties to watch the Royal Wed­ding on TV, saw her blos­som as she grew into her role, been happy for her as she pro­duced two beau­ti­ful boys and then watched as the fairy­tale be­gan to un­ravel so pub­licly. I ad­mired her for be­ing fiercely pro­tec­tive of her sons and for break­ing with royal tra­di­tion by in­sist­ing on be­ing with them as much as pos­si­ble. I also ad­mired her for her courage and com­pas­sion and for the work she did away from the spot­light. She did a great job rais­ing Wil­liam and Harry, who are both in­tel­li­gent, grounded, sen­si­tive and thought­ful men. Her legacy has been to make the roy­als more ac­ces­si­ble and more hu­man. Diana was a to­tal pack­age and so cap­ti­vated a world­wide au­di­ence. She was beau­ti­ful, charm­ing, royal, trou­bled and not afraid to bare her soul. The me­dia couldn’t get enough of her and a le­gend was born.

HI­LARY BARRY

I was on hol­i­day in Wanaka when a friend from the news­room rang and told me that Diana had been se­ri­ously in­jured in a car ac­ci­dent in Paris. I passed on this news to my friends and none of us could quite be­lieve it. Then came the call that she’d died and there was shocked si­lence. For a woman whose life was any­thing but or­di­nary, it seemed like the sort of ev­ery­day death any of the rest of us might have – speed­ing car loses con­trol. Twenty years ago, I ad­mired Diana for her con­nec­tion with peo­ple and her com­pas­sion. Now, I watch Wil­liam and Harry and ad­mire her most as a mother. Al­though she died when they were still very young, the way she shaped them as chil­dren is tes­ta­ment to her abil­ity as a par­ent. I think for many peo­ple that is the sad­dest thing about her death; that she never saw her sons grow up into kind and good young men. I was just a lit­tle girl when Diana mar­ried Charles, and this was the real-life fairy­tale wed­ding. She was glamorous and kind and wore amaz­ing gowns and she danced with John Tra­volta. JOHN TRA­VOLTA! Of course as the years went on it was ob­vi­ous her life was no fairy­tale, but to a lit­tle girl in Up­per Hutt, whose Dad bought a VCR just so we could record the Royal Wed­ding and watch it over and over and over again, it didn’t mat­ter. She would al­ways be that Princess from the story books.

SAM HAYES

I was 13 years old at the time and re­mem­ber walk­ing down the road in Mil­ton with my friend from school when she told me Princess Diana had died. I stopped in my tracks, gob­s­macked; we talked about it for hours. Diana was beau­ti­ful, a fash­ion icon, but also re­lat­able. She re­tained her in­de­pen­dence, de­spite the re­stric­tions of the life she mar­ried into, and she wasn’t afraid to break down bar­ri­ers and pur­sue the in­ter­ests and causes she was pas­sion­ate about. Her hu­man­i­tar­ian work in Africa help­ing peo­ple with Aids and her work to clear land­mines stick in my mind. She brought the royal fam­ily down to earth and chal­lenged the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of what it means to be a royal. She re­minded us that they, too, are fal­li­ble. In turn, she per­haps changed the ex­pec­ta­tions of the next gen­er­a­tion of roy­als – her chil­dren – al­low­ing them to be them­selves, with­out as much judge­ment as she faced. Diana was the peo­ple’s princess, an icon and hu­man­i­tar­ian. She was the first of a new breed of royal – real, pas­sion­ate, com­plex, fal­li­ble. I think her story prob­a­bly gave other women the courage to change their own lives, which is a re­mark­able legacy.

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