How Princess Diana's Death Changed Celebrity Gossip for the Better

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Twenty years ago this summer, Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident that put Britain in a state of mourning that lasted for an entire week. In the aftermath following her death, the public seemingly turned on the media, whom they believed to be the indirect cause of her untimely passing, hounded as she was by paparazzi for her entire life in the public eye.


On this week’s episode of DirtCast, I sat down with Jezebel staff writer and royal expert Kelly Faircloth to unpack the immense celebrity Diana achieved in her life and how the media’s reaction to her life signaled a turning point in celebrity gossip culture and the way we consume the lives of the famous.

We discuss how her death gripped England, plummeting the people into a state of mourning for events and sadnesses other than Diana’s passing—because the ritualization of the mourning process has faded, Faircloth suggests that Diana’s passing was a crucial moment of catharsis.

What’s most unusual about Diana’s life is how her death brought a very cinematic ending to a life lived mostly under close examination. “It’s weird how her story reaches this dramatic climax in a very narrative way,” Faircloth says. “I thought that she had always been as famous as she was in 1997. But all of these iconic moments in her life happened in that eight-month period [leading up to her death]... The fact that she died at the height of her fame is so rare.”

Jezebel Managing Editor and Big Time Dicks co-host Joanna Rothkopf also joined me for the Dirtiest Dirt, providing an essential exegesis on the latest cast of Dancing With the Stars and Chris Pratt’s dark descent into becoming a dick.

DirtCast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, and iHeart Media.

Our show is produced by Levi Sharpe with editorial oversight by Kate Dries. Mandana Mofidi is our Executive Director of Audio. Our theme music is by Stuart Wood. This episode was mixed by Jamie Collazzo. Listen to our politics podcast, Big Time Dicks, here.



I’m not so sure the transition was all that swift. Remember MSNBC used to be a tech channel. When Diana died it went in to non-stop coverage of her death. For weeks that was the only thing on that network and they never went back to their tech model.