A photo of Princess Diana in the Queen Mary exhibit, “Diana, A Celebration.” Photo/Dennis J.Freeman

Long Beach, CA-It’s been 15 years this month since Princess Diana left us, inexplicably taken away from this earth in a shroud of high drama and tragedy.  On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana, along with her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, were both mortally wounded by a horrific car accident, chased into eternity by overzealous paparazzi photographers.

And just like that the Princess of Wales was gone, that incredulous beautiful smile never to be seen again. No one could have imagined that a freakish high-speed chase, sparked by tabloid media, would claim the life of the one modern-day heroine who actually inspired people.

There was more to Princess Diana than the fairy-tale beauty she adorned with impeccable grace. Princess Diana was what millions of young girls wanted to be. Princess Diana didn’t need a crown to carry herself like royalty. Her many humanitarian crusades and her unquestioned love for children was what she was about. She was class personified.

What we saw in Princess Diana was the gift of life, an angel on loan from heaven that went about her business to share love. She represented the best in all of us. She wasn’t just some bore sitting on the throne looking down her nose at here meekly servants. Princess Diana was the breath of fresh air of humility and humanness with a dash of glamour and style that made her such a revered global figure.

If you happen to travel down to Long Beach you can relive your Princess Diana moments by coming aboard the Queen Mary to see a detailed look back at her Highness through the lens of Diana: Legacy of a Princess, an extension body of work of images, gowns art work and artifacts commemorating the life of Princess Diana.

The stunning exhibition, on loan from the Althorp Estate, showcases 28 of the eye-catching gowns and designer suits Princess Diana wore in her abbreviated lifetime. Going through the exhibit one has this feeling of being part of something that is somewhat surreal.  Diana: Legacy of a Princess shows off Princess Diana’s funny side, adding a great deal compilation of letters and notes that highlight some of her humorous musings.

This is an element that makes Princess Diana special. She had a way of connecting with people, often illustrating to others that she was a normal person, not some stuffy out of touch and out of reach monarch. The exhibit itself is surrounded by a throne of artistic and newspaper montage of England and British royalty that puts the Diana: Legacy of a Princess display into its proper context.

One of the gowns on display at “Diana, A Celebration.”/Photo/Dennis J. Freeman

Many of the artifacts include miniature replicas of Princess Diana in these exquisite gowns and comes to life with some of the gaudy jewelry that is prominent in the exhibit, which can take as long as several hours to go through. Much like the lingering ghostly shadows visitors have famously retold throughout the years of their trip to the Queen Mary, the essence of Princess of Diana can be felt in every aspect of the exhibit.

It is a somewhat feeling of awe and a great deal of sadness looking at the celebration, glory and tragic ending of a lady who brought joy and radiance to the world. In the back of your mind as one examine the many notes, images, video and historical documents, you almost get the feeling that Princess Diana will come out at any minute with her ever-dignified presence to acknowledge her many adoring fans.

Sadly, those fans can only connect with Princess Diana through the memories of her life in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit. She may be gone but her spirit lives on. The exhibit is history retold in the vacuum of Princess Diana’s ballerina dress and shoes she wore as a teenager.

It is announced in the array of jaw-dropping gowns Princess Diana dressed in. It is proclaimed through the images of that irreplaceable smile Princess Diana wore with the sincerity of a saint. Diana: Legacy of a Princess, excellently captures the spirit of Princess of Diana in ways that exudes the best of the life of this beloved and fallen icon.