Why Princess Diana’s Name Was Banned From Church Following Her Death

Princess Diana‘s death shocked the world more than 20 years ago, and the actions of the royal family in the days following the news surprised a lot of people as well.

Read on to find out why the royals were criticized after the princess’ death and the reason Diana’s name was banned from church the morning she died.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The royal family learned of Diana’s death while they were in Scotland

After leaving the Ritz Hotel in Paris around midnight on Aug. 31, 1997, the Princess of Wales was involved in a car crash that took her life and the lives of two others.

Paparazzi staked outside the hotel chased Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, after they left the hotel. The vehicle they were traveling in, driven by Ritz security head Henri Paul, crashed into a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Fayed and Paul died instantly and Diana was badly injured. She was taken to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital where doctors worked to try and save her life.

As Reader’s Digest noted, during that night Britain’s ambassador to France Michael Jay was notified about the accident and contacted Queen Elizabeth II’s private secretary.

The queen was on holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the rest of her family when she was awoken and informed that Diana was injured. Hours later, she learned that the princess had died. Ultimately, the monarch made the decision to let Prince William and Prince Harry sleep and tell them the news in the morning.

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Peter Phillips look at Princess Diana tributes outside Balmoral
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry, and Peter Phillips look at Princess Diana tributes outside Balmoral | Robert Patterson/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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Why Princess Diana’s name was forbidden from being mentioned in church

William and Harry were 15 and 12 when their mother died. The family wanted to shield them so they could grieve privately and therefore, the royals did not return to London right away and stayed at Balmoral.

The queen ordered all televisions and radios in the castle be hidden or moved so the princes wouldn’t be traumatized by all the reports about what happened to their mom.

The monarch also felt it was best to ban any mentions of the People’s Princess at mass that day since she decided to attend the service with her grandsons. However, the fact that she took them to church the same morning they were told that their mother had passed away caused public outrage.

Prince Harry asked if his mother was really dead

Prince William and Prince Harry
Prince William and Prince Harry | Anwar Hussein

The family’s business-as-usual approach backfired and confused Diana’s sons so much that Harry asked if his mom was really gone.

“Prince Harry actually asked his father, ‘Is it true that Mummy’s dead?’ biographer Tina Brown said in the documentary Diana: 7 Days That Shook The Windsors. “The children couldn’t understand why everything was as normal, except a couple of hours earlier they’d been told their mother had died.”

On Sept. 5, the family returned to London and Queen Elizabeth finally addressed the nation.

“This week at Balmoral, we have all been trying to help William and Harry come to terms with the devastating loss that they and the rest of us have suffered,” she explained. The royal family matriarch also said that she “admired and respected” Princess Diana.