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Gallup Vault: Diana's Death Was Personal for Many

Gallup Vault: Diana's Death Was Personal for Many

Shortly after Princess Diana was killed Aug. 31, 1997, in a Paris car crash, Gallup found 50% of Britons and 27% of Americans mourning her death as if someone they knew personally had died. Almost all the rest said they were sad, but not as upset as they would be if she were someone they knew.

Reaction to Princess Diana's Death in the U.S. and U.K.
How would you describe the reaction you had to Diana's death when you first heard about it -- were you as upset as if someone you knew personally had died, or were you sad, but not as upset as if it were someone you personally knew?
U.S. U.K.
% %
Upset as if someone they knew personally had died 27 50
Sad, but not as upset as if it were someone they personally knew 66 46
Not sad (vol.) 6 2
No opinion 1 1
U.S. results based on adults 18 and older; U.K. results based on adults 16 and older
(vol.) = Volunteered response
Gallup, Sept. 4, 1997

Diana's death affected women more than men: 57% of women in the U.K. and 34% of women in the U.S. reported they were as upset about Diana's death as if someone they knew personally had died. On average, the percentage of men in each country who were this upset lagged women by about 15 percentage points.

Women More Upset Than Men About Diana's Death
Upset as if knew personally Sad, but not that upset Not sad No opinion
% % % %
United States
Women 34 62 2 2
Men 20 70 10 *
United Kingdom
Women 57 40 1 1
Men 41 54 3 1
U.S. results based on adults 18 and older; U.K. results based on adults 16 and older
* indicates less than 0.5%
Gallup, Sept. 4, 1997

The special U.S.-U.K. Gallup poll, conducted in both countries on Sept. 4, 1997, also offered some insight into what sparked people's affection for Diana, whose death occurred nearly a year to the day after her divorce from Britain's Prince Charles. Respondents were asked to say which of four qualities about Diana they admired most.

  • In both countries, Diana was respected most for her charitable endeavors -- a quality chosen by 37% in the U.S. and 39% in the U.K. At the time of her death, Diana was focused on bringing attention to the millions of forgotten land mines that kill or maim thousands of civilians each year.

  • Roughly a quarter of adults in the U.S. (26%) and a third in the U.K. most appreciated her ability to identify with ordinary people, a quality that earned her the moniker "the People's Princess."

  • Fourteen percent in the U.S. and 9% in the U.K. most respected her for how she raised her two young boys -- using a modern parenting style that famously broke ranks with royal formality.

  • Her style and glamour were far less important to people: 6% in the U.S. and 3% in the U.K. cited this as their main reason for admiring her.

Upon Diana's death, 52% of Americans described themselves as "fans" of hers, 60% planned to watch her funeral on television and 63% thought she should posthumously receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to ban land mines.

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