Birthday: July 1, 1961
Died At Age: 36
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Diana, Princess of Wales
Born Country: England
Born in: Sandringham
Famous as: Member of the British Royal Family
Royal Family Members
Spouse/Ex-: Charles Prince of Wales (m. 1981), div. 1996)
father: John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
mother: The Honourable Frances Shand Kydd
siblings: 9th Earl Spencer, Baroness Fellowes, Charles Spencer, Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, The Hon. John Spencer
children: Harry, Princes William
Died on: August 31, 1997
place of death: Paris
Who was Princess Diana?
It is not every other day that a ‘People’s Princess’ is born. She may have left for the heavenly abode quite early than anticipated, but she continues to reign in the minds and hearts of millions across the globe. Diana, Princess of Wales, was one of the most eminent royal bloods of the 20th century. Coming from an aristocratic patrician family, nobility and kingly spirit came naturally to her. Ever since her birth, Diana held several titles, the most important was the Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales which she acquired after her marriage to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. Throughout her life, Diana had been actively involved in philanthropic and humanitarian work. She supported organizations that worked for the betterment of people with serious illness and those that assisted homeless people, drug addicts and elderly. Her charming mannerism and contagiously amicable demeanour earned her quite a few nicknames like, ‘People's Princess‘, ‘Princess Di’, ‘Queen/ Lady of Hearts’ and ‘Lady Di’. Despite her last held title being Diana, Princess of Wales, she was popularly known as ‘Princess Diana’ during her days alive and posthumously. Legacy states the power and the prominence of Diana, Princess of Wales at the world forum. She was the ‘world’s most photographed woman’ during her time and was noted the world over for her compassionate disposition, empathetic temperament, charismatic appeal and unrestrained benevolence. Not to forget, she was a fashionista in the truest sense of the word and known for her impeccable sense of style!
Childhood & Early Life
Born to an aristocratic British family with royal ancestry, Princess Diana, as we know her today, was the fourth of five children of Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Frances Ruth Burke Roche Viscountess Althorp. Christened Diana Frances, she was the third daughter for the Spencer couple, who were anticipating a son when Diana was born.
Diana had an infant brother John, who died only a year before she was born. The lack of an ‘heir’ strained the relationship between Diana’s parents so much so that the couple filed for a divorce.
Much of young Spencers’ former years were spent in Park House, at the Sandringham estate. Following the divorce, Diana started living with her mother until Lord Althorp gained custody of Diana and her siblings.
As far as her education is concerned, Diana was enrolled at the Riddlesworth Hall near Diss, Norfolk, post which she took admission at the boarding school, The New School at West Heath, in Sevenoaks, Kent. Diana was academically poor, and it is said that she failed to clear all of her O-levels twice.
Since a young age, Diana was no stranger to the British royal family. She was friends with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, whom she played with as a child.
As a growing young teenager, Diana was shy and introvert, but shared a fondness for music and dancing. She excelled at swimming and diving and was a trained ballerina dancer as well. Though she eyed to be a professional ballerina, she became too tall for the profession. Diana had a profound interest in community service.
Meanwhile, the death of her grandfather led to her father inheriting the title Earl Spencer on June 9, 1975, and she being known to the world as ‘Lady Diana’.
Interestingly, it was during this time that she developed keenness and liking for children. She had a soft spot for them, an attachment which became an important part of her personality and living for the rest of her life.
Diana attended the Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school, in Switzerland after which she relocated to London. It was during her years in Switzerland that Diana first met Charles, who was romantically involved with her elder sister, Sarah.
In London, Diana stayed at her mother’s flat for some time until she was gifted an apartment, at Coleherne Court in Earls Court, on her 18th birthday, which she shared with three flatmates.
Diana took up various odd jobs during her years at London. At first, she took up a post as a dance instructor for budding youngsters at an academy. However, an unfortunate skiing accident and three months of rest period brought an end to it. Her affection and keenness towards children landed her with a job as a nursery assistant at the Young England School.
Diana also did some cleaning work for her sister, Sarah and several of her friends and even worked as a hostess at parties. For some extra bucks, she even served as a nanny for an American family living in London.
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Royal Duties & Responsibilities
Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales resumed the responsibilities that came with the title soon after her marriage to Prince Charles. She accompanied him on a three day visit to Wales in October 1981, which was her first tour, following which she accompanied the Prince of Wales to Netherlands.
In 1983, post the birth of Prince William, she accompanied Prince of Wales on a tour to Australia and New Zealand where the two met with the local Australian natives. This was officially the first tour of infant Prince William and the Royal couple recently turned parents.
Thereafter, Diana accompanied Prince Charles on a number of visits to numerous countries including Canada, Italy and United States, the latter being her first overseas trip. During her visit to the United States, the royal couple met President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House.
Diana accompanied Prince Charles on his tour to Japan, Spain, Indonesia and Canada. What’s more, she even convoyed him to Portugal, Germany, France, United Arab States, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Hungary, India and South Korea.
While their tour to Portugal coincided with the anniversary of the Treaty of Windsor which bounded Britain and Portugal in perpetual friendship, in Germany and France, the royal couple attended the Cannes Film festival. They were invited for the enthronement of Emperor Akihito of Japan in 1990. Following year, they were invited to Canada to present replica of Queen Victoria's Royal Charter to Queen's University on its 150th anniversary.
Apart from travelling along with Prince Charles, Princess of Wales undertook solo tours as well, her first being in the year 1984 to Norway.
Her other solo tours include a trip to Pakistan, Egypt, Japan, Venice, Argentina, Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nepal. Post separation from Prince Charles, Diana did not lead a life of isolation and continued to appear with the other members of the Royal Family on major national occasions, such as the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe Day) and VJ (Victory over Japan Day) in 1995.
Her last official visit was on July 21, 1997 when she visited the children's accident and emergency unit at Park Hospital, London.
Act of Benevolence
Ever since her appointment as Her Royal Highness Princess of Wales, Diana’s already compassionate nature and temperament surfaced a little more, as she took active part in charitable events and was closely associated with numerous charities.
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She made regular public appearance, touring hospitals, schools, and other facilities. Unlike other people of the royal lineage, Diana took interest in working towards helping people suffering from serious illnesses and health-related matters, including AIDS and leprosy. In addition to this, she worked for the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly.
At the time of her marriage with Prince of Wales, she had been involved with more than 100 charities. She was elected as the President of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and President of the British marital advice organisations.
After her divorce with Prince Charles, she paid close attention to only six charities and withdrew her name from the rest. The charities in which she retained her patronage include Centrepoint (homeless charity), English National Ballet, Leprosy Mission and National AIDS Trust, and as President of the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street and of the Royal Marsden Hospital.
She was an active supporter of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and was influential in signing of the Ottawa Treaty. The campaign won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, a few months after her death.
Awards & Achievements
She was listed among the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century by the TIME’s magazine in 1999.
In 2002, in a poll conducted by BBC, she was voted 3rd in the 100 Greatest Britons, outranking The Queen and other British monarchs
Though Prince Charles, Prince of Wales was courting Sarah, Diana’s elder sister, the relationship did not materialize any further than that. It was during the summer of 1980 that he showed some serious interest in Lady Diana.
Just an acquaintance before, Lady Diana soon filled up the shoes of her sister by being the potential bride for Prince Charles. The two spent quality time together. Interestingly, Diana was well received by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother as well.
After several months of courtship period, Prince Charles popped out the ultimate question on February 6, 1981 which met with a positive response from Lady Diana. A formal announcement of the engagement was made on February 24, 1981, which was followed by a grand and majestic wedding ceremony on July 29, 1981.
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Billed as the ‘wedding of the century’, the two walked up to the altar at St Paul's Cathedral to take their vows as man and wife. The ceremony was broadcasted on television around the world with millions of audience who watched as the two seemingly odd couple tied their royal nuptial knot.
Post wedding, Lady Diana acquired the title Princess of Wales, which automatically made her the third highest female in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence, after Queen Elizabeth and Queen the Mother.
Prince and Princess of Wales were blessed with their first offspring, a son on June 21, 1982 in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. Christened as William Arthur Philip Louis, he was the couple’s first child and heir of the royal lineage.
Two years later, the royal couple experienced the happiness of being a parent again as their second son, Henry Charles Albert David, was born on September 15, 1984.
After much media hype and sensationalism, the fairy-tale marriage of the two broke apart, with each blaming the other on grounds of adultery as the primary reason for the break-up. While Prince of Wales was linked to his former flame Camilla Parker-Bowles, Princess of Wales shared more than a cordial relationship with James Hewitt and James Gilbey.
Sensational journalism rose to a peak as both exchanged derogatory remarks for each other during interviews and conferences. Also, there were numerous books released during this time which gave the author’s own version of the story so far of the Prince and the Princess. Private letters, tapes and phone conversations were broadcasted and published by news channels and publishers alike.
To curb down the melodrama, the Queen had send letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales advising them to divorce on December 20, 1995, which was finalized on August 28, 1996.
Lady Diana received a lump sum settlement of around �17 million along with a clause standard in royal divorces preventing her from discussing the details. Though her title of Her Royal Highness was extracted from her, she nevertheless retained the title style, Diana, Princess of Wales. Since she was the mother of the next-to-be in line to the throne, she enjoyed the same royal privileges that she received during her marriage. Also, she was a member of the Royal family.
Post separation, Diana, Princess of Wales, started living in her apartment which she had shared with Prince of Wales since the first year of marriage. During this time, Diana shared a romantic relationship with Hasnat Khan, a heart surgeon by profession. It was billed as the ‘love of her life’ by many close friends and relatives.
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The two were steady in to the relationship and kept it going for about two years. Though she was mum about her affair and worked hard to keep it a secret, press and media already had some brief information about it. Though they questioned her on numerous occasions, each time she lied to them. The relationship was going very well until the two ended it in June 1997.
Following month, Diana started dating Dodi Fayed, son of Mohamed Al-Fayed. The two spent a great deal of time together on holidays.
Death & Thereafter
On August 31, 1997, Diana who was accompanying Dodi Fayed in his car, suffered from a fatal incident that led to the car crash and her eventual death. Diana, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul, the driver had died, the lone survivor being Trevor Rees-Jones, bodyguard of the two.
Though Fayed’s father accused MI6 and the Duke of Edinburgh to be involved in the ‘accidental’ car crash which he believed was ‘well-planned’, the court overruled his claim and gave a verdict which stated that negligent driving by driver Henri Paul and chasing the paparazzi were two reasons which led to the unfortunate accident and untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed.
The sudden death was mourned by the Royal family and the public alike. Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to once Her Royal Highness the Princess of Diana on September 5, 1997. Following day, her funeral took place at Westminster Abbey. Her sons, William and Harry, walked in the funeral procession and were accompanied by their father, Prince of Wales, Duke of Edinburgh and Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother. She was buried at her family’s estate in Althorp.
The world mourned the death of the ‘People’s Princess’, as Diana was fondly known as. Numerous places in the world turned into memorials of Diana where people paid their tribute.
Posthumously, Diana has been kept alive in the contemporary art by many artists and artisans. While Tracey Emin created a number of monoprint drawings about Diana and her public and private life, Martin Sastre came up with a film at the Venice Biennial titles, ‘Diana: The Rose Conspiracy’. She was then featured as the subject in Stella Vine’s first major solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford gallery.
On the tenth death anniversary of Diana, her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry honoured their mother with a special concert held on what would have been her 46th birthday. The proceeds of the event went to the charities supported by Diana and her sons.
Her benevolent nature and keenness for humanitarian work was recognized after her death as well, which was prominent from the establishment of Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The fund grants helps and support to numerous organizations.
During her marriage to Prince Charles, she accidentally reversed the order of Charles's first two names, saying ‘Philip Charles’ Arthur George instead of Charles Philip Arthur George. Also, at the altar, she did not say the vow that demanded her to ‘obey’ him, a traditional vow which was left out at the couple’s request.
After marriage, her full title stood as Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay
She is often referred to as ‘People’s Princess’. She is also known by nicknames, ‘Princess Di’, and ‘Lady of Hearts’.
She had appeared on the cover of People Weekly magazine a record-breaking 81 times. The ‘Goodbye Diana’ issue racked up sales of almost $3m making the issue the magazine's best-seller in its existence.