Diana's appeal undiminished nearly 20 years after death

Diana, Princess of Wales was a woman whose warmth, compassion and empathy for those she met earned her the description the "people's princess".

Almost 20 years have passed since her death which shocked the world but her appeal remains undiminished - a British icon of the 20th century.

Fans of Diana, who was killed in a Paris car crash on August 31 1997, are likely to gather at her former home Kensington Palace to mark the anniversary.

Her sons the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have spoken candidly about their mother for the first time in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of her death, describing the personal anguish they experienced and the grief they still feel.

Harry, interviewed for an ITV documentary about his mother, said: "There's not a day that William and I don't wish that she was... still around.

"And we wonder what kind of a mother she would be now, and what kind of a public role she would have, and what a difference she would be making."

Former prime minister Tony Blair dubbed Diana the "people's princess" on the day she died and in a magazine interview with his former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, William echoed the words of his brother.

He said: "I think she would have carried on, really getting stuck into various causes and making change.

"If you look at some of the issues she focused on, leprosy, Aids, landmines, she went for some tough areas. She would have carried on with that."

The royal brothers announced earlier this year her memory would be honoured with a statue erected in the grounds of Kensington Palace with her sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale part of the team commissioning the artwork.

Diana was a woman of contradictions, labelled a clothes horse for the expensive designer outfits she wore yet she used her public position to champion unfashionable causes from Aids awareness to banning landmines.

The simple gesture of shaking hands with a HIV-positive man - when many believed casual contact could spread the virus - challenged prejudices in the late 1980s.

And the year she died the Princess was famously pictured walking through an Angolan landmine field, being cleared by a charity, to highlight the impact buried munitions were having long after conflicts had ended.

But many will remember Diana for her clothes, worn to make a statement as well as express her style, and an exhibition of some of her famous outfits - Diana: Her Fashion Story - is being staged at Kensington Palace.

At the time of Diana's death the Prince and Princess of Wales had been divorced for a year after the final stages of their marriage break-up had become public five years earlier.

Diana's marital troubles - and issues like her bulimia and suicide attempts - had been laid bare in the 1992 Andrew Morton book Diana, Her True Story.

Three years later came more revelations when she told the BBC Panorama documentary that "there were three of us in this marriage", in reference to Camilla Parker Bowles, now Charles' wife.

In 1994 Charles had confessed to adultery in a TV interview with broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, but said it happened only after his marriage had "irretrievable" broken down.

Diana's legacy is being taken forward by her sons, who have not only adopted some of her causes, from Aids awareness to supporting the homeless, but reflect to a degree her ability to connect with the vulnerable and disadvantaged.

So the woman who some royal commentators claim was viewed with suspicion for her unorthodox approach to being a royal - may help to keep the monarchy relevant in the 21st century.

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