Princess Diana: when grief gripped a nation

What does the extraordinary outpouring of emotion that followed Princess Diana's death tell us about the state of Britain 20 years ago? Dominic Sandbrook investigates...

Floral tributes to Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Kensington Palace. (Photo by Liba Taylor/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

There are moments in history when you can feel a nation changing course, and the summer of 1997 felt like one of them. On the first day of May, the British electorate had unceremoniously slammed the door on 18 years of Conservative government, handing Tony Blair’s Labour party the biggest landslide in postwar history. When, in the small hours of the morning, Blair addressed Labour’s election-night party at the Royal Festival Hall, he began with the words: “A new dawn has broken, has it not?”

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