Remembering The Tourists Arrested For Grabbing Diana Memorial Bears
Between The Crown and Kristen Stewart's performance in Spencer, a lot's reminding us of Princess Diana's death 25 years ago. The world reacted to that tragedy in a way they likely never will to a celebrity death again. In England, the public went slightly mad.
In front of various London palaces, people laid down flowers and teddy bears. That's fine—that's not the crazy part. Then on September 10, an Italian tourist picked up one of the teddy bears outside St. James, planning to give it to his girlfriend. England sentenced him to a week in prison.
The crime was equivalent to grave robbing, said people. And it sort of was: It was equivalent to taking flowers from a cemetery. But it sounds like people called it as bad as digging up a grave and pulling fillings out of the corpse's mouth, which it was not. One furious Diana mourner named Gerard Moorhouse punched the Italian in the face as he left a courthouse, saying, "My Diana! She was the queen of everybody’s hearts."
Two women in their fifties visiting from Slovakia kicked it up a notch. They took eleven teddy bears and some flowers from outside Westminster Abbey. The courts sentenced the pair to four weeks in prison. The Slovakian embassy issued a statement, not in their citizens' defense but to affirm their solidarity with England. "We believe the verdict of the court and the sentence that ensued from it were entirely commensurate with the nature of this most deplorable crime," they said.
In the end, the sentences were reduced to fines, £100 for the Italian guy and £200 for each of the Slovakian women. In Slovakia, claimed the women, it's traditional for some people to leave gifts at a memorial and other people to collect them and keep them. Otherwise, a memorial just grows uncontrollably, the rain ruins everything, and someone eventually has to sweep it all into the trash.
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