'I'm a Princess Diana Superfan, I Quit My Job to Attend Her Inquest'

Some time in the early '90s, I was walking around the grounds at the All England Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, when I saw a car pull up. As it approached I realized it was Princess Diana. I couldn't believe how beautiful she was. She had the most beautiful smile and her eyes were like blue diamonds.

I didn't want to call out to her because I didn't want to invade her privacy. I thought it was not the right thing to do. I couldn't believe I had seen her in person, it was surreal to think that she really existed. I wish I had met her personally.

When Princess Diana was introduced to the British public in March 1981, I knew straight away there was something remarkable about her. This lady who was marrying Prince Charles had so much warmth, she spoke so calmly. I knew instantly she was special.

Throughout her years of public service, I felt Diana always went out of her way for people. I believe she was always there to help people in need; whether it was children or adults, she showed everyone love.

For me, one of her most extraordinary moments was in February 1989, when at the height of the AIDS pandemic, the Princess hugged a seven-year-old boy with the disease at Harlem Hospital during a visit to New York.

Diana In New Zealand
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) at a welcome ceremony in Tauranga, New Zealand, 31st March 1983. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

It was such a moving moment. Most people around the world were terrified of the condition, many people would refuse to touch people with AIDS, but Diana would. She showed love to the most vulnerable, she engaged with them and made them feel comfortable. That's what you call the Lord's work.

So when I heard the news of Diana's death on August 31, 1997, I was devastated. My now late partner's birthday had been earlier in the week, but we had decided to wait until Saturday to celebrate, because we only drink once a week.

On the evening before, we had gone for a meal and a few drinks and planned to celebrate with some champagne after coming home. But before we could open the bottle we heard the news that Diana had been injured in Paris. We put the champagne back in the fridge and waited for more news.

In the morning, when we heard she passed away, we both cried. We were absolutely heartbroken. The next day I rode my bike to Buckingham Palace in London to lay down some flowers. Two days later, I went to St James's Palace, where her coffin was being kept. I could see candles flickering inside the chapel through the stained glass windows.

Now, I pray for her every Sunday at Westminster Abbey and have done for 25 years. But when I read in the newspapers that her death was being investigated I said: "Diana, I will not let you down, I will go to every day of that inquest." The inquests into the deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed opened on January 8, 2007. In the early years of her death there were so many conspiracy theories, I felt I needed to get the truth.

I didn't know what I was getting myself in for, the inquest was a marathon. I quit my job working in a kitchen so I could attend every single day for six months. For the first four days I camped outside, but for the rest of the week arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London at 6.30a.m. with Diana's name written on my face. The coroner even mentioned me in his official summary to the jury.

Diana In Lech
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) riding in a traditional sleigh with Prince William and Prince Harry during a skiing holiday in Lech, Austria, 30th March 1993. Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

It was very hard knowing the truth about what happened to Princess Diana. I heard a lot of evidence and was taking notes in my mind everyday. After hearing so many conspiracy theories, I made up my own mind and came to the conclusion that it was a very tragic accident.

Now, me and a group of friends celebrate the anniversary of her death annually. On the 25th anniversary of her death, we have put up banners and balloons, plus ordered a specially designed cake with one of our favorite images of Diana on it. We spend the day discussing how incredible her life was.

We are all ever so proud of Princess Diana. In my eyes she was a treasure and one of the Lord's Angels. I think she was born with two hearts, one to serve herself and one for everyone else.

John Loughry is an avid Royal watcher from South London.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Monica Greep.

Correction, 9/6/22, 5.00AM E.T.: Following the death of Princess Diana, John visited Buckingham Palace two days before traveling to St James's Palace. A reference to John's wife was also corrected to partner.