Peo­ple’s Princess loved Tyneside

HOW HER ROYAL HIGHNESS TOUCHED OUR RE­GION

The Chronicle - - Front Page - By DAVE MOR­TON Nos­tal­gia Ed­i­tor david.mor­ton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

TWENTY years ago to­day, the world woke to the shock­ing news that Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in a car crash in the heart of Paris.

Diana had been a fre­quent vis­i­tor to the North East.

Here at the Chron­i­cle, staff had first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the ‘Queen of Hearts’ or the ‘Peo­ple’s Princess,’ as she came to be known.

On April 3, 1991, dur­ing part of an of­fi­cial visit to the re­gion, she of­fi­cially opened the Chron­i­cle and Jour­nal’s new colour print­ing press.

Un­der the head­line, Princess of Smiles, the pa­per re­ported on her visit as she charmed the work­ers at the then Thom­son House.

Down in the con­fines of the Press Hall, Diana of­fered to shake the hand of one of the print­ers.

When the press man held up his hand which was cov­ered in ink, the Princess joked: “I don’t mind if you don’t.”

Diana’s first solo visit to the re­gion saw her ar­rive in New­cas­tle on May 18, 1983.

We re­ported: “Princess Diana warmed the hearts of thou­sands of Ge­ordies when she opened the new Red­heugh Bridge.”

Then, leav­ing be­hind the shiny, newly-opened struc­ture span­ning the Tyne, the party trav­elled on to Long­ben­ton, North Tyneside.

“From tiny tots to grand­par­ents,” said the Chron­i­cle, “they lined the route to be taken by the Princess who was open­ing the £30m Fin­dus fac­tory.”

Again there were thou­sands wait­ing to see her.

In 1988, Diana warmed hearts at Dr Barnardo’s, Whit­ley Bay.

In 1989, she was at the Percy Hed­ley School in For­est Hall, New­cas­tle, and at the city’s Free­man Hospi­tal.

In Au­gust, 1992, she trav­elled to St Oswald’s Hospice in Gos­forth, New­cas­tle. In the same year, she also opened St Peter’s Basin in New­cas­tle, and the In­ter­con­nec­tions Sys­tems fac­tory in South Shields. In June 1993, an­other visit to New­cas­tle saw her visit Re­late in Ri­d­ley Place. There were many more visits to the re­gion. In the North East, as else­where, the Princess’s death was keenly felt by many.

In an era be­fore so­cial me­dia, large queues formed at the Chron­i­cle’s head­quar­ters of read­ers keen to ex­press their grief by sign­ing our book of con­do­lence, and leave cards and ded­i­ca­tions. Sev­eral books and thou­sands of trib­utes would later be sent on to Kens­ing­ton Palace.

See pages 22 and 23 for mem­o­ries of Diana

Above, Princess Diana at St Oswald’s Hospice, Gos­forth, 1992 and be­low at the Chron­i­cle and Jour­nal of­fices in 1991

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