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Diana’s death evokes memories of another princess, another crash

September 1, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Beautiful, beloved by millions, Diana and Grace each knew fairy-tale happiness and Greek tragedy. And in the end, both princesses met violent death on French roads.

When word spread that the Princess of Wales was killed while evading photographers in Paris, memories resurfaced of that day in 1982 when Princess Grace’s Rover plunged off a steep, cliffside road high above Monaco and landed in a ditch.

Pascale Tremblay, a tea salon waitress, seemed to echo a common feeling amid the shock of Diana’s death:

``Diana was a truly magnificent woman, a super human being. She knew how to give something to everyone, and she was as good as as she was beautiful,″ she said. ``Her death reminds me of Princess Grace.″

Just like Diana’s death, Grace’s death brought disbelief, an outpouring of emotion, morbid curiosity and conflicting rumors of the exact circumstances.

Diana died Sunday after her Mercedes raced into a tunnel under the Place de l’Alma overlooking the Seine River across from the Eiffel Tower to outrun a pack of paparazzi. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, was killed instantly.

Grace, too, died quickly after her morning crash on Sept. 14, 1982. She was in the front seat with her daughter, Stephanie, then 17, who suffered neck injuries.

For years, rumors persisted that Stephanie, not Grace, had been behind the wheel.

The orphaned principality shrouded itself in black; flags flew at half-staff and shops were shuttered. The funeral was a rare gathering of world leaders, Hollywood stars and European royals and was followed by millions around the world.

The princesses shared more than their striking beauty and shy demeanor.

Diana gave up a career as a kindergarten teacher to wed the heir to the British throne in 1981. Grace turned her back on fortune on the silver screen to marry Prince Rainier, then the world’s most eligible bachelor in 1956, and rule the tiny, seaside principality by his side.

Grace was 25 and had already made 11 films when she met Rainier in 1955 at the Cannes Film festival.

At 19, Diana was practically a child bride.

Neither lived happily every after and both saw their storybook marriages go sour.

Diana battled depression and bulimia, while Grace was often portrayed as a heavy drinker who, in her final years, sought comfort in the arms of younger men.

``Both princesses felt betrayed in their marriages,″ said Madeleine Fabian, a restaurant owner. ``But Diana, at least, looked as though she was starting a new life. For Grace, it was already too late.″

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