Raising the dead: revisiting letters to diana

Bowman, Marion (2021). Raising the dead: revisiting letters to diana. Acta Ethnographica Hungarica, 58(1) pp. 221–228.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1556/aethn.58.2013.1.15


When Diana, Princess of Wales, died on August 31st 1997 there were extraordinary reactions to her death, including expressions of mourning recorded in Books of Condolences. This article revisits the Book of Condolences set up at Wells Cathedral in England, to elicit what this genre of ritualised writing told us then about popular religion, contemporary spirituality and ‘de-institutionalised’ notions of death and afterlife. Arguably the ‘Diana events’ marked a turning point in popular expressions of mourning and public articulations of post-Christian ideas. Such sentiments continue to be reflected, inter alia, in the concepts expressed in contemporary online tributes.

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