Local woman recounts meeting Princess Diana months before tragedy

Lisa Boney Strickland met 'People's Princess' at New York dress auction

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the world remembers and honors Diana, Princess of Wales, on the 20th anniversary of her shocking death, one local woman shared her story of meeting the “People's Princess” -- just months before the tragedy.

In the early hours of Aug. 31, 1997, Princess Diana and several others were killed in a car crash in the Pont l'Alma tunnel in Paris.

The news rippled across the world, as a wave of grief struck old and young alike. Among those who mourned Diana's passing was Lisa Boney Strickland, who had a long-standing interest in British history and had followed Diana's personal and royal life over the years.

Just two months before the crash, Stickland had come face to face with her favorite royal.

“She was real. She was down-to-earth,” Strickland said.

Strickland attended an auction of Diana's dresses in New York in 1997, where she recalls at least two dresses selling for $150,000 pounds or more.

That night, she met Diana.

"I said, 'Happy early birthday,' and she said, 'How do you know when my birthday is?'” Strickland recalled. “I said, 'Mine's tomorrow, and I know that yours is a week later, July 1.'”

Both ladies realized they shared the same sign -- Cancer -- which amused Diana.

"She still was holding my hand, and she pulled me close and whispered in my ear, 'Well, aren't we bad?' I just (was) tickled pink,” Strickland said. “I guess you could say I had my Marcia Brady moment. I didn't want to wash my hand.”

Strickland held onto that memory as the world was rocked by Diana's death.

She said she hopes to go to England next year and visit Diana's family home and her memorial.

"She has made such a name, and her legacy has carried on. You even see it in her boys,” Strickland said. "She's never going to be forgotten. That is for sure."

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