Princess Diana's legacy is often overshadowed by her untimely death — but her friends are remembering the happy times
Princess Diana‘s legacy is often overshadowed by her untimely death — but her friends are remembering the happy times.
On Friday — which marks the 21st anniversary of the Paris car crash that took the lives of Diana, her romantic companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul — Rosa Monckton shared a touching tribute to her friend on Twitter. In the joyous photo, the royal looks relaxed and comfortable in a baggy sweatshirt, laughing with her eyes squeezed shut.
“Diana as I remember her,” Monckton captioned the rare image. “Not enough is written about her sense of fun and zest for life. Friend and wonderful godmother to Domenica. RIP.”
Monckton was a close friend and confidante to the late Princess of Wales — who was the godmother to Monckton’s daughter, Domenica. When Domenica was was born with Down syndrome in 1995, Diana provided the ultimate support.
“She said, ‘You just have to believe in her,’ ” the British jewelry executive, who met Diana through a mutual friend, told PEOPLE in 2016. “She said, ‘Believe in her, love her and I’ll be there every step of the way.’ She already had that vision of what Domenica could become, which I simply couldn’t see.”
The princess “was a huge encouragement,” after Domenica’s birth, explained Monckton. “She came with me to appointments. She was very much by my side.”
Domenica, who is now 23, became the inspiration behind Team Domenica, a charity set up by her mother to help young adults with learning disabilities gain experience to break into the workplace.
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RELATED VIDEO: Remembering Princess Diana 21 Years After Her Death
Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed Diana’s wedding dress and remained friends with her, tells PEOPLE that even after over two decades, Diana still has an impact.
“The years have gone by so quickly. It’s still very, very sad,” Emanuel said wistfully. “She is still very much in peoples’ hearts and minds really — and that’s her legacy. After years and years people still remember her so well.”
The 36-year-old princess died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, when her car, which was being chased by paparazzi, crashed into a pillar in the Alma Tunnel.
Her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was injured in the crash but survived.
There was an outpouring of mourning around the world, with flowers and tributes filling the grounds surrounding her London home, Kensington Palace. Diana’s funeral was attended by 2,000 people and watched by two billion more at home on television.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy last year, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry made a poignant walk through the breathtaking all-white garden created in memory of the “People’s Princess.”
William recalled that he remembered “seeing the pigeons and squirrels,” adding, “We used to come here a lot.”
Noting that he and Harry used to feed the fish in the garden’s pond, William said, “There never used to be this many in here” — before being told some of the koi carp are so old that they are the same ones from his youth.
William, Kate and Harry also met with representatives from eight charities closest to Diana’s heart, including the English National Ballet.