The emotion unleashed by the death of the Princess of Wales has been remarkable in depth and scope. It stretched from Britain's royal family to the grieving people crying 'We love you' to the passing coffin in the streets of London yesterday. The celebrated mourners in Westminster Abbey showed the range of her life, from politicians to pop stars. The scale of mourning was unprecedented, with enormous crowds along the funeral route and a worldwide television audience of billions. But, simultaneously, this was a time for individual sorrow by the ordinary people who threw flowers in the streets and from motorway bridges on the way to her last resting place. The scale of public attention, transcending nationalities and cultures, was proof - as if proof was needed - of the star status of the late princess. She was, as we have been told so often over the past week, the most famous woman in the world, the most photographed human being, an icon whose image resonated from magazine covers, newspaper pages and television screens from Kensington to Kyoto. The world watched fascinated as she was transformed from the Shy Di of a fairytale wedding into the central figure in an international soap opera she could not escape. But the depth of feeling, particularly in Britain, has gone far beyond mere mourning for a star. The silence in the streets yesterday reflected the way in which the death of the princess affected millions of people in an unexpectedly direct and personal manner. In part, that was because of her imperfections. Here was an idol who was decidedly human, and who did not, or could not, hide her frailties. That made many people feel far closer to her than they would to any other member of the royal family, or to a Hollywood actress with a perfection-seeking publicity machine. And this meant that anybody watching yesterday's funeral could see her as a victim in need of care, and feel their own mortality through her. She might care for others, but she was, herself, inescapably vulnerable The public nature of her unhappiness and failings produced a revolution in Britain's royal circles with which the monarchy proved unable to cope. The funeral showed the extent of the change - and not just in Elton John's performance. Her brother's moving tribute, with its references to her eating disorder and her feelings of inferiority, would have been unthinkable in pre-Diana days or, indeed, for the members of the royal family gathered in Westminster Abbey. So would his stark contrast between her 'goodness' and the newspapers at 'the other end of the moral spectrum'. The way in which Earl Spencer spoke of protecting her sons from being swallowed up by royal duty and protocol was particularly striking. Deference is not dead, but the passing of the princess has provoked a shift in British society, as the nation shared in an emotion which many may not have suspected lay in them. 'William & Harry. Please cry,' said one placard along the funeral route. The Queen's broadcast on Friday, while cloaked in habitual restraint, showed that even she had been swayed from the protocol ruling her life. When the crowd cheered outside the Palace yesterday, they were not cheering the royal family but the princess whose character and risky modernity meant that she had never been one of them. Her brother described Diana as a 'very British girl who transcended nationalities'. She was, in her way, as unique as Mother Teresa who died on the day before the princess' funeral. Each showed what individuals can do in caring for the disadvantaged, but they were, clearly, very different. Many regarded Mother Teresa as a living saint. Some may wish to canonise Diana as a lay saint. One can easily imagine her grave becoming a shrine while adoring sites multiply on the Internet and the almost unbelievable course of her adult life becomes part of the world's late 20th century folklore, elevating her to the realms of myth. With all respect to the princess, that would not be right. She did a great deal of fine work for AIDS sufferers, for landmine victims, for the homeless and for all the charities represented at her funeral. But she was not the kind of person who could have laboured for decades in the slums of Calcutta. Her glamour and her involvement in the high-gloss world of high society were an essential part of her being - and gave her a following which she could turn to account in her good works in Britain, Africa or Bosnia. That was admirable. But the element which plumbed the wells of emotion round the world was Diana's humanity. This may have finally touched a monarchy set in aspic for far too long, and thereby improved its chances of surviving in tune with its nation. But whatever transpires from the week's events, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, will remain an emotional focal point for millions for years to come as someone who, in the words of her brother, needed no royal title for her magic.