The Queen handled the crisis that swept over the Royal Family following the death of the People’s Princess in a remarkable way, according to her sister.
Princess Margaret wrote in a letter to the Queen, dated September 14, 1997: “My loving admiration for you.
“How kindly you arranged everybody lives after the accident and made life tolerable for those two boys.
“I just felt you were wonderful.”
The week that separated Diana’s death on August 31 to her funeral on September 6 caused considerable “damage” to the Royal Family, according to royal experts and those who lived through those days.
Appearing in Channel 4’s The Royal House of Windsor documentary, Lord Carey of Clifton, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, said of that period: “I’ve seen nothing ever like that in my life, before or since.
“There was a lot of damage done to the Royal Family, [the princess] was elevated into Saint Diana and I think we really have to be very cautious about that interpretation.”
The Crown received a major backlash from the public for deciding to remain for days at the Scottish royal residence of Balmoral instead of returning immediately to London.
Speaking about Princess Diana, royal commentator Penny Junor said: “If her arrival into the royal family had been spectacular, her departure, crikey, was pretty spectacular too, and very nearly brought about the end of the monarchy.”
But the Queen, who is thought to have remained in Scotland to shield Prince William and Prince Harry, then respectively 15 and 12, from the media coverage of their mother’s death, regained the respect and adoration of royal fans quickly after.
And, as Princess Margaret’s letter shows, those closest to the Queen acknowledged how well she handled the tragic event.
The monarch, who returned to London on September 5, was greeted by a sea of flowers put in front of the gates on Buckingham Palace by mourning royal fans and an unusually silent crowd.
But her subjects immediately warmed to her after a child, Katie Jones, gave the Queen a bouquet of flowers, telling the monarch “she deserved it” for remaining close to her grandsons after the death of their beloved mum.
The day after, minutes before the funeral, Queen Elizabeth held a brief televised speech on Buckingham Palace’s balcony, paying tribute to Diana and revealing the emotions that shattered the Windsors in the previous days.
The Queen said: “Since last Sunday’s dreadful news we have seen, throughout Britain and around the world, an overwhelming expression of sadness at Diana’s death.
“We have all been trying in our different ways to cope.
“It is not easy to express a sense of loss, since the initial shock is often succeeded by a mixture of other feelings: disbelief, incomprehension, anger – and concern for those who remain.
“We have all felt those emotions in these last few days.
“So what I say to you now, as your Queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart.”
And shortly after, during the funeral procession, the Queen bowed her head at Diana’s coffin.
The unique gesture was seen by the 2.5billion people who watched on TV the final goodbye to the Princess of Wales.