‘As the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death nears it’s time to draw a line in the sand.’

Video via Channel 7

In just under six weeks, it will be 20 years to the day since Princess Diana died after a late night Paris car crash. Without question, it is an anniversary that calls for commemoration. A moment felt so profoundly and grieved so publicly around the world.

And yet, its looming arrival makes me wonder if it might be time to publicly, at least, draw a line in the sand over her death. Not to forget, but to move on and allow Princes William and Harry the opportunity to do the same.

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Princess Diana would have been 56 years old this year. Image via Getty.

I was 10 years old when Princess Diana died and I can remember the moment with crystal clarity. It was a rainy weekend afternoon and my mum had taken my siblings and I to a nearby neighbour's house. We would play in the games room and the adults would drink West Coast Coolers in the lounge room and relax.

Out of nowhere, our friend's mum began screaming.

"Di's dead! Di's died," she screamed as if she were a close personal friend. She ran from the lounge into the kitchen, where the radio was breaking news of the accident. We all crammed around listening, not really understanding what was going on. My mum came in, and when I looked around, I could see all of the adults had started crying.

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Princess Diana with Prince William. Image: Getty Images.

Someone turned on a television and footage began rolling in. Stories of a car chase. Of a tunnel in Paris. Of a woman that we all felt we knew dying.

Eventually, more and more stories about that final night came out and the gravity of what was happening began to sink in.

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People said Dodi Fayed, the man Diana had been with in the car that night, had simply been a fling and not her true love. Reports that her driver, Henri Paul's alcohol levels were above the limit were released. None of the occupants were wearing seatbelts. There were even rumours that Diana was pregnant at the time of the crash, but that has never been proven. Fayed's father Harrod's owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, was a grieving, litigious, very wealthy man who kept the case on the front page for years claiming it was an "establishment conspiracy". Diana's former butler continued to offer up tell-all interviews for the right price.

The fault was Charles'. And Camilla's. And they royal family's.

What never seemed to be considered, though, was that somewhere in the world were two little boys also sitting in a room trying to process what went on. And to them, the messages, even if they were untrue, suggested that had their mother not died, they may have had a younger sibling.

The front pages and TV news and rumours and people whispering in corridors and at school, insinuating their mother was "reckless"or "lost" or "desperate" or "wanting love back in her life".

That indirectly, the people helping them through what would surely be the hardest period of their young lives, were actually to blame for their loss.

The power of Princess Diana was that everyone felt as though they knew her. But William and Harry actually did. And for 20 years, we've repurposed the same conversation and kept the story alive. For the most part, particularly in recent months as the anniversary approaches, they have played along. They've answered questions thoughtfully, been honest about their struggles to process the grief and discussed how they keep the memory of their mother alive.

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Prince Harry and Princess Diana. Source: Getty.

They've done it all while navigating their way through teenhood and university and relationships and marriage. Through the early years of parenthood and career development and recreating a new family structure that now includes Camilla Parker Bowles, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and the memory of their mother.

But as of August, how much longer should we continue to bring up the worst moment of their young lives? How many more times will we need to ask how they coped with that time and how they keep the memory of her alive and what they tell their own children about the grandmother they will never meet?

No child would ever be able to forget or truly move on from losing a parent, but then again, few children are ever in positions in which their grief is so public and so defining of who they are.

Surely, after 20 years, we should allow them to be fathers and husbands and boyfriends and friends in peace. We should listen to what else they have to say. Surely, after everything they went through as 15 and 12-year-old boys all those years ago, we owe these two men the opportunity to talk about more than their mother's death. To be more than the most traumatic experience of their life.

Surely we should allow them a future and stop asking to pull them back into the past.

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