I met her at Thorpe Park, she looked just like a regular mum – Sun readers share their memories of the People’s Princess
NEXT week marks 25 years since Princess Diana’s tragic death in a Paris car crash.
But Sun readers have never forgotten her – especially those who met her in person.
We asked for your memories of the People’s Princess who changed the Royal Family forever – and we were swamped.
Here are just some of the incredible stories and pictures of the day you met Di.
‘Di looked just like a regular mum taking her kids for a fun day out’
MUM Jan Chappell went with her husband Vaughan and daughters Ria, three, and five-year-old Jade for a day out at Thorpe Park, Surrey, during the Easter holidays in 1993.
They arrived early and went on their first ride, the whirling teacups, when Jan noticed someone who looked like Princess Diana.
She then realised it was Princess Diana, along with Princes Harry and William and their nanny and security team.
Accounts manager Jan, 61, of Great Bardfield, Essex, says: “I couldn’t believe it. She looked so natural, just like any other mum taking her children on a day out.
“They were so normal and just enjoying themselves – it absolutely made our day.
“There was no fuss or cameras or microphones. She was so beautiful.
“No one followed her when she left either – it was like everyone respected her space and privacy.
“My daughters were so young and did not realise the importance of this amazing princess and the effect she had on all of us.
“Having grown up, they certainly do now. I call the photos we took that Sunday ‘our Diana pictures’.
“Both the girls wanted a set so we all have a set now and I’ve got them on my mobile phone to show people.”
Jan was helping at a local children’s football club in August 1997, when she learned that the Princess had been killed in a car crash in Paris.
She says: “I was devastated when she died. I burst into tears.
“I always get to work early so I can read my Sun and I remember for weeks afterwards the paper would be wet when I finished reading it, I’d be so upset.
“For Mother’s Day this year the girls surprised me with a trip to London to Kensington Palace for afternoon tea and to see Diana’s wedding dress.
“I was such a fan of hers. We’d be the same age if she was still around now.
“It was so desperately sad what happened but I’ll always treasure those memories of the day we saw her – a mum, just like me, giving her kids a lovely day to remember.”
‘I recall early years – she was never in a hurry with a curry!’
DAVID HARPER, 72, lived in central London’s Pimlico area when Diana worked at a nearby kindergarten and often saw her go to the Cullens grocery store to pick up her lunch.
The retired furniture installer recalls: “When her engagement to Prince Charles was announced in February 1981, the Press were everywhere, taking her picture.
“Diana used to run alongside one side of the road to Cullens and back the same way.
“One day someone took her photo coming back with her lunch as she passed a local curry shop.
“The picture appeared in the papers and the curry shop owner had it blown up and put it his window.
“It looked like she had just got a curry from the shop.
“It was a great advertisement for the shop but I know for a fact she never used that curry house.”
‘She’d visit my paper kiosk wearing coat over nightdress’
PETER HINES ran a newspaper kiosk in London’s Earls Court and in the autumn of 1980 a young woman bought an armful of papers.
The woman said: “Not a very good likeness, is it?”
Peter, 67, recalls: “When I looked up, I realised it was Lady Diana Spencer, whose photos were all over the front pages, speculating on her relationship with Prince Charles.
“She continued to get her newspaper from me daily, collecting them before the Press arrived outside her flat. She usually turned up wearing her coat over her nightdress and bought most of the tabloids.
“Funny and kind, she was one of the most natural, normal, down-to-earth people I’ve met.
“She continued to get her papers from me until the announcement of her engagement when she moved from her flat.
“I sent her a congratulation card via her flatmate and I received a beautiful two-page letter back from Diana.”
Part-time sales assistant Peter, now living in Bracknell, Berks, was working at the kiosk the day after Diana’s death.
He says: “The papers sold out quickly. My customers knew I’d known Diana so there were lots of conversations about her.”
‘She was just like a princess – kind, pretty with a warm heart’
AS a junior member of the British Red Cross, Rob Thomas helped out at its adventure camp for children with disabilities at Hindleap Warren in East Sussex.
In July 1985, Diana, who was a patron of the Red Cross Youth, visited the centre.
He says: “I remember one of the children abseiling down froma tree and shouting out ‘’Allo, darling’, while swinging off ropes 20ft up.
“Diana just smiled and enjoyed chatting to everyone.”
Blonde-haired Lindsey McMillan, then eight years old, was also there and had this photo taken chatting to the Princess.
Lindsey, 45, now an accountant from Seaford, East Sussex, says: “It was the greatest day of my childhood.
“I remember thinking she was just like a princess, kind and pretty with such a warm heart.”
‘Diana asked me, would you take us for a ride in your fire engine?’
FIREMAN Selwyn Watts was told to get a driver and take his hydraulic platform engine to nearby Sandringham House where Princess Diana and her two young boys – aged nine and seven – were waiting.
Selwyn, 72, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, says: “I remember one of them had Kermit the frog wellies. I lifted them up on to the vehicle’s platform and they took turns to operate it under the supervision of the driver.
“Diana remarked how clean the appliance was. I told her we have a day for each of our appliances when we strip them down and check all the equipment.
“She laughed and said, ‘It sounds like they get better treatment than your wife’.
“The boys were getting bored, so I lifted them down and William asked, ‘Can we go for a ride?’ Diana told them ‘no’.
Then, like all children, they pleaded, ‘Please, Mum, please’. She looked at me and said, ‘Would you take us for a ride?’
“All three then got in the rear cab and I drove out of the main gates. You can’t begin to imagine the look of sheer horror on the faces of the police as a future queen and king of England disappeared out the gate.
“I looked in the mirror to see the police scuttling around to get in their Range Rovers.
“I looked at the guy on the gate, who had his mouth open, and winked as I drove out.
“I took them for about 20 minutes on the roads near Sandringham. We couldn’t go far as we were on call.”
Selwyn, now boss of an aerial fitting firm, says: “I have the greatest respect for Diana. Such a sad loss.
“But I’ll never forget the day I took Diana and her boys for a spin.”
‘I jokingly asked her to take my crying baby to calm her down’
CARPENTER Ian Simpson met Princess Diana at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital in February 1992 where his two- year-old daughter Danielle was receiving treatment for a tumour on her kidney.
Now 60, he says: “In this picture my youngest daughter, Becky, was screaming her head off.
“I had a laugh with Di, asking her to take Becky from me to hopefully calm her down.
“What a beautiful, tall, caring lady she was.”
Ian, of Hertford, Herts, adds: “Sadly, Danielle died from her illness at five years old, but Becky is now 32 and a mum.”
‘Diana kept us circling in heli for an hour, she was worth it’
Royal Marines trainer Keith Winterburn parachuted into Lympstone, Devon, in front of Princess Diana – with two pencil cases for her sons.
The Princess had been delayed because of all the traffic near the Commandos’ training centre – people that had come to see her.
Keith, 62, says: “Diana said she was sorry for keeping the men waiting and thought the air would be very blue as we were kept circling in the helicopter for over an hour.
“I told her: ‘It was well worth the wait, Ma’am’.”
Keith, a retired security consultant from Newton-on-Ouse, North Yorks, adds: “Diana was so nice. She said that the young princes would love the pencil cases which were made by Royal Marines carpenters, especially as they had just arrived from 10,000 ft.
“What a beautiful lady and so easy to talk to.”
‘Cops stepped in to thwart an ambush by Mickey and Goofy’
WRITER Duncan Eaton will never forget the day Diana opened an activity centre for the disabled at Bursledon, Hants, in 1983.
The 73-year-old, from Lordswood, Southampton, says: “The People’s Princess was in danger of being gatecrashed by larger-than-life Walt Disney characters.
“They were promoting a new Disney film. The Princess was radiant in a Cossack-style outfit with red boots and grey muff.
“Mickey Mouse and Goofy waved frantically at Diana. She seemed not to notice them – but the police did and they insisted that anyone without an official pass had to go. Mickey and his mates were ushered out by the long arm of the law.”
The moment was captured by The Sun’s royal photographer Arthur Edwards.
‘My pink and lemon carnations matched her outfit perfectly’
DIANA fan Karen Johnston begged her bosses for the day off when the Princess visited Inverness.
She says: “I stopped for petrol and picked up two bunches of carnations – pink and lemon.
“Knowing the princess collected frogs, I wore my frog t-shirt. And then she appeared wearing a pink and lemon outfit. My flowers matched it perfectly.
“She was on the opposite side of the road from my sister and I.
“Just when I thought I was only going to see her from a distance, she turned round and walked straight towards me.
“Diana took my flowers, thanked me, shook my hand and said, ‘Frogs’ and smiled.
“I said I wore it especially for her and then she headed off into the crowds. It was the best day of my life.
“Next day my boss told me my photo with Diana was on the front of the newspaper.
“Good job I hadn’t had to phone in sick.
“To this day, I still cry watching the documentaries – even after 25 years.
“We lost someone special that day.”