You probably remember where you were when you first heard the news.
I’d crept downstairs to watch my early morning cartoons and to my disgust it was rolling news on every single channel and they were all telling the same story.
Diana, the Princess of Wales had died in a car crash.
When I told my Mum as she came down to make breakfast later that morning, she didn’t believe me until she saw the news with her own eyes.
The death of the “People’s Princess” marked a sea change in the way our country dealt with emotions. The outpouring of grief that greeted the news was something never seen before; thousands of flowers were laid to remember the Princess and people cried openly.
The outpouring of public grief that was unprecedented and even aged seven I sensed the heavy emotion that hung in the air over the following days.
And part of her legacy, is a willing openness to talk about emotions and mental health in a way that had not been done before. Her Panorama interview talking about her ongoing struggle in with an eating disorder may not seem to be groundbreaking today, but Diana began a conversation about mental health long before it was at the forefront of political campaigns.
Her and life and her death changed the way we not only expect our royals to behave, but it also called into question the quintessentially British ‘stiff upper lip’ in times of turmoil. The crowds who cried openly on the streets of London in the days after death have become a symbol of a new kind of Britain which is not afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve and talk about mental health.
Twenty years on, and Princes William and Harry, along with Catherine are also doing their bit for mental health awareness with their Heads Together campaign.
Mental health awareness has come a long way in the twenty years since her death and I for one am thankful for her openness that began the journey towards the end of the stiff upper lip.