Diana, Princess of Wales

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:

princess of Wales Diana


(born July 1, 1961, Sandringham, Norfolk, Eng.died Aug. 31, 1997, Paris, France) Consort (198196) of Charles, prince of Wales. Daughter of Viscount Althorp (later Earl Spencer), she was a kindergarten teacher at the time of her engagement to Charles, whom she married on July 29, 1981, in a globally televised ceremony. They had two sons, Princes William (1982) and Henry (1984). Her beauty and unprecedented popularity as a member of the royal family attracted intense press attention, and she became one of the most photographed women in the world. The marriage gradually broke down; Charles and Diana separated in 1992 and were divorced in 1996. She remained highly visible and continued her activities on behalf of numerous charities. In 1997 she was killed in a car crash in Paris, along with her companion, Emad Mohamed (Dodi) al-Fayed (195597), and their driver. Her death brought on a massive public outpouring of grief.

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Gale Encyclopedia of Biography:

Diana, Princess of Wales


Lady Diana Frances Spencer (1961-1997) married Prince Charles in 1981 and became Princess of Wales. Retaining her title after the royal couple divorced in 1996, Diana continued her humanitarian work. She died in a tragic car accident in 1997.

Lady Diana Spencer began enchanting the public and international press shortly before July 29, 1981, wedding to Prince Charles of Wales, heir to the British throne, in a ceremony that was broadcast worldwide. The media's obsessive fascination with the Princess of Wales hardly waned over the years and at times became frenetic, particularly in the mid-1990s as her marriage to Prince Charles became increasingly unstable.

On February 29, 1996, the Princess announced that she had agreed to a divorce. True to her high-profile image, in March of 1996 Diana suggested to Charles that they announce their divorce on television; according to The Daily Telegraph, Diana argued that such an appearance "would help the nation as much as themselves." After some stalling, Prince Charles agreed to the request and a hefty financial settlement of almost $23 million, plus $600,000 a year for the maintenance of Diana's private office. Diana, meanwhile, lost her title of Her Royal Highness and right to the throne, but kept the moniker Princess of Wales and continued to live in Kensington Palace. Just over a year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris.

Rumors about the stability of Charles and Diana's marriage surfaced repeatedly over the years. Many royal watchers say the union was destined for trouble because the fairy tale wedding raised expectations that most couples would find impossible to meet. Others cited the difference in the couple's ages and interests, and Charles's long-time friendship with Camilla Parker Bowles, a woman he had once asked to marry him.

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961, in Norfolk, England, the third of the Lord and Lady Althorp's four children. She grew up at Park House, a mansion in Norfolk located next door to the royal family's Sandringham estate. One of Diana's playmates was Prince Andrew, Charles's brother. Diana's mother, the Honorable Frances Shand-Kydd, is the daughter of a wealthy Anglo-Irish baron. Lady Fermoy, Diana's grandmother, was for years chief lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother. Diana's father, the Viscount Althorp who became an earl in 1975, was a remote descendant of the Stuart kings and a direct descendant of King Charles II (1630-1685). The Spencers have served the Crown as courtiers for generations and are related to the Sir Winston Churchills and at least eight U.S. presidents, including George Washington, John Adams, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Diana's younger brother Charles is Queen Elizabeth's godson, and her father was the late Queen Mary's godson and former personal aide to both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Diana, a quiet and reserved child, had a relatively happy home life until she was eight years old, when her parents went through a bitter divorce, and her mother ran off with the heir to a wallpaper fortune. Her father eventually won the custody battle over their son and three daughters. Diana, who remained close to her mother, subsequently became depressed. In 1976 the Earl Spencer married Raine Legge, the daughter of British romance novelist Barbara Cartland. Apparently, the Spencer children and their stepmother had a stormy relationship.

Diana's academic career was unremarkable. She was tutored at home until the age of nine, when she was sent to Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk. Her "major moment of academic distinction," according to People, was when she won an award for taking especially good care of her guinea pig, Peanuts. At the age of 12, Diana began attending the exclusive West Heath School in Sevenoaks, Kent, where she developed a passion for ballet and later Prince Charles. She hung his picture above her cot at the boarding school and told a classmate, as reported by People," I would love to be a dancer - or Princess of Wales."

Diana became bored with academics and dropped out of West Heath at the age of 16. Her father sent her to a Swiss finishing school, Chateau d'Oex. She became homesick within a few months and returned to Norfolk. For a while she hired herself out as a cleaning woman, eventually finding work as a kindergarten teacher's aide. Her father bought her a three-bedroom flat not far from fashionable Sloane Street and Knightsbridge, where Diana helped her three roommates with housekeeping and cooking duties.

Although Prince Charles had known Diana, literally the girl next door, for virtually all of her life, he regarded her as a playmate for his younger brothers. He later dated Diana's older sister, Lady Sarah, who eventually became Mrs. Neil McCorquodale. Lady Sarah reintroduced Charles and Diana at a 1977 pheasant hunt at Althorp. "[Diana] taught him how to tap-dance on the terrace," a family friend once told McCall's. "He thought she was adorable … full of vitality and terribly sweet." Charles was struck by "what a very amusing and jolly and attractive 16-year-old she was," Time reported. Diana concluded that the prince was "pretty amazing."

Charles thought Diana was too young to consider as a marriage prospect, however, and the romance didn't bloom for another three years. In July of 1980 Diana visited the royal family's Balmoral Castle in Scotland to see her sister, Lady Jane, who was married to Robert Fellowes, the queen's assistant secretary. Once again Diana ran into Charles, and the two walked and fished together. Charles was quoted as saying in Time, "I began to realize what was going on in my mind and hers in particular." Diana was invited back in September.

Soon afterward, reporters began to suspect the nature of her relationship with Charles and began to hound Diana mercilessly, photographing her with the prince at her London flat and once while holding one of the children at the nursery school where she taught. To her horror, the sun behind her back clearly outlined her thighs through her skirt in a photo that has since been reprinted many times. At one point Diana's mother fired off a letter to the London Times, demanding, "Is it necessary or fair to harass my daughter daily?," as quoted in Time.

Charles proposed to Diana at dinner in his Buckingham Palace apartment on February 3, 1981. Diana was the first British citizen to marry the heir to the throne since 1659, when Prince James - later James II - married Lady Anne Hyde. In addition, Diana was an Anglican, presenting no legal obstacles to marriage with the man who, as king, would head the Church of England. Her past was pristine, a matter of great importance to the royal family. A well-known saying soon made the rounds in the press: Diana had a history, but no past.

According to a Time interview with the royal couple, Charles said the courtship was conducted "like a military operation" on national television. He proposed over dinner for two before Diana's February 6 departure for a vacation in Australia. "I wanted to give Diana a chance to think about it - to think if it was going to be too awful. If she didn't like the idea, she could say she didn't. … But in fact she said …." Diana interrupted, "Yes, quite promptly. I never had any doubts about it." When Diana returned from her trip, Charles asked the Earl Spencer for his daughter's hand. Diana resigned her teaching post and moved into the palace's Clarence House with the Queen Mother, where she was instructed in royal protocol.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and 25 other clerics officiated at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on July 29, 1981. A congregation of 2,500 and a worldwide TV audience of about 750 million watched the ceremony under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Five mounted military police officers led Diana in her glass coach from Clarence House to St. Paul's. Two million spectators - whose behavior was kept in check by 4,000 policemen and 2,228 soldiers - jammed the processional route.

Soon afterward, Diana's professional life became an endless round of ceremonial tree plantings, introductions, and public appearances. She was scheduled for 170 official engagements during the year following the royal wedding. In their first seven years of marriage, the Prince and Princess of Wales made official visits to 19 countries and held hundreds of handshaking sessions. But Diana was shielded from the press, never making any public statements - except for those approved by the palace - or giving a private interview to any reporter.

There seemed to be no doubts about Charles and Diana's love for each other in those early days. "Diana seems absolutely floating on air when she's around the Prince - squeezing his hand, nuzzling his cheek or leaning her head on his shoulder," Rita Lachman, a close friend of the Spencers, observed in McCall's. "And although the Prince's training has made his behavior more restrained, it is obvious how he feels about her." Later developments would make it appear that the relationship was rocky even before the marriage, but the public would only see the fairy tale facade.

On November 5, 1981, the palace announced that the Princess of Wales was expecting a child. Charles was present when his wife gave birth at London's St. Mary's Hospital 11 months after the royal wedding. Dr. George Pinker, Queen Elizabeth's gynecologist, attended the birth. Prince William, nicknamed Wills, was born in June of 1982. A second son, Harry, was born two years later in September of 1984. Diana was said to be a doting mother, trying to raise the children as normally as possible, away from the glare of publicity.

After giving birth, Diana dropped 30 pounds from her 5-foot 10-inch frame, according to a People correspondent, "leaving it lean and elegant - a splendid rack for the designer rags she assembled with impressive taste. Almost overnight a pretty girl was transformed into a statuesque belle." Around that time, reports alleging that Diana suffered from anorexia nervosa first began to surface.

Over the years, Diana immersed herself in numerous charitable causes. She became involved in such social issues such as homelessness and drug abuse, visited leprosariums in Nigeria and Indonesia, shook hands with patients at an AIDS ward in a Middlesex Hospital, and once visited victims of an IRA (Irish Republican Army) bombing in Northern Ireland. In 1990, People noted, Diana was the patron of 44 charities, making more than 180 visits on their behalf the previous year. "I don't just want to be a name on a letterhead," the princess was quoted as saying in the Saturday Evening Post.

In 1989 Diana became a patron of Relate, Britain's leading marriage counseling agency. She once addressed a crowd at Relate's Family of the Year ceremony, as quoted in People: "Marriage offers stability, and may be that is why nearly 7,000 couples a week begin new family lives of their own. Sadly, for many, reality fails to live up to expectations. When that happens, most couples draw on new reserves of love and strength."

Ironically, Diana's own marriage apparently had been ailing for years. Rumors about marital problems surfaced just a few years after the wedding. The couple's first public spat, at a pheasant hunt at the queen's Norfolk estate, was followed two days later by another public row. The fairy tale turned into a soap opera, according to a British gossip columnist who characterized the situation as "Dallas in the palace." Many reports alleged that Charles quickly became disenchanted with his bride and that he was henpecked and obsessed with organic gardening and spiritualism. Diana was said to be bored, temperamental, self-absorbed, and clothes-mad.

Over the next few years Charles and Diana's widely varying intellectual and social interests became apparent: He was an intellectual who preferred to read philosophical and thought-provoking literature, while Diana was partial to romance novels. Charles enjoyed polo and horseback riding; Diana once fell off a horse and had lost any passion she had for riding. He enjoyed opera; she preferred ballet and rock music. The media began tracking the number of days the two spent apart, noting Charles's lengthy stays away from home. Diana once said in public, People reported, that being a princess "isn't all it's cracked up to be." Buckingham Palace maintained a stony silence.

The public's fascination with Diana fueled the media's insatiable hunger for sensational news about the princess. Coverage of the royal family was said to be more critical and crudely inquisitive than at any time since the early nineteenth century. As Suzanne Lowry, a writer for London's Sunday Times once wrote, according to Time: "What Diana clearly didn't understand when she took that fateful step [of marrying Charles] was that she could never get back into that nice, cozy private nursery again. … As James Whitaker [the London Mirror's royal watcher] might say to Diana with a nudge, 'You didn't know you were marrying us too, did you?"'

While some of Charles and Diana's problems were blamed on incompatibility, many royal watchers speculated that trouble stemmed from the attention lavished on Diana, while Charles was largely ignored. When the prince delivered a serious speech, for example, the newspapers would mention it briefly below a large photo of Diana in her latest fashion. One longtime insider revealed in People, "The problems of the marriage have come out in the open because Di's self-confidence has developed. She now appreciates her own incredible sexuality and the fact that the world is at her feet. This adoration used to terrify her. Now she quite enjoys the effect she has."

Media coverage of the royal family only increased after Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson in July of 1986. As People characterized it: "After five years in a corset of decorum, Di was ready to bust loose, and fun-loving Fergie was just the girl to help her unlace. … Soon the merry wives of Windsor were cutting up in public." Charles reportedly scolded Diana once for "trashing the dignity of the royal family," People reported, and Diana chided him for being "stuffy, boring and old before his time." The princess eventually tired of the antics and settled down.

In June of 1991, young Prince William sustained a skull fracture after being hit in the head with a golf club. Diana spent two nights with her son in the hospital, while Charles reportedly dropped in once, on his way to an opera. From that point on, Time pointed out, the "tabloids have smelled blood." A month later, Charles and Diana spent her 30th birthday apart. The press relished the news, ignoring the fact that Diana sported a new gold and mother-of-pearl bracelet the next day.

One of three biographies of Diana published in 1992, Andrew Morton's Diana: Her True Story alleged that Diana attempted suicide five times in the early 1980s - the first only six months after the wedding, while she was pregnant with William. The episodes were characterized as cries for help rather than serious attempts to end her life. Morton's book, along with the others, also claimed that Diana suffered from bulimia.

Morton's biography, sympathetic to Diana, is said to be the most damaging to the prince, portraying Diana as a martyr with a cold fish for a husband. The book was given more credence than others because, as Newsweek reported, the "revelations were unusually specific, extraordinarily well sourced and … they [made] sense in light of Charles and Diana's recent public behavior." Rumors surfaced that Diana collaborated with Morton - or at least approved the project, giving close friends and relatives permission to be interviewed. Diana's father, who died of a heart attack on March 29, 1992, had sold dozens of her childhood photographs to Morton's publisher.

Amid rumors in the fall of 1992 that a Wales separation announcement was forthcoming came intense media scrutiny of Diana's male friendships. A retired bank manager contacted the Sun in 1990, offering a tape recording of a chummy 1989 cellular telephone conversation between a man - supposedly Diana's close friend, James Gilbey - and a woman he believed to be Diana. The press subsequently resurrected old tales about an alleged dalliance between Diana and her riding instructor, Major James Hewitt. These claims were spelled out in Anna Pasternak's book Princess in Love. On December 9, 1992, it was formally announced that the royal couple was separating.

In 1993 Diana announced that due to exhaustion from the intense media scrutiny, she would be withdrawing from public life, though she would continue her charity work. For the next two years, with a few exceptions, she kept a fairly low media profile. During this time she sought government advice about how she might have some role as an ambassador for Britain, but no firm arrangements were made.

In 1994, Prince Charles granted a wide-ranging television interview to Jonathan Dimbleby, which was broadcast at the same time that Dimbleby's biography of Charles appeared in bookstores. In an uncharacteristically frank interview, Charles admitted his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, though he claimed this relationship began only in 1986, after his marriage with Diana had completely broken down. However, after the couple's divorce was announced in 1996, it seemed apparent that Charles had carried a torch for Camilla Parker Bowles since before his marriage to Diana, and it was speculated that he would marry her.

In November of the following year, Diana responded with a frank interview of her own, on BBC's Panorama program. The interview was particularly controversial because Diana had informed Queen Elizabeth of the interview only after it had already taken place, and just days before it was scheduled to be broadcast. The interview drew the largest viewing audience in Panorama's 43-year history - 21.1 million viewers, from a total British population of 57 million. Typically, Diana's interview drew more attention than Charles' had; only 14 million people had watched his interview the year before.

According to a front page story in the Daily Telegraph, "her composure and fluency could have rivalled that of a statesman." While the BBC stated that Diana had not been given editorial control over the program, she was obviously well-prepared for the difficult questions. The Daily Telegraph's media correspondent pointed out that "no question took her by surprise, and no answers were fluffed. Some of the toughest ones produced distinctly unspontaneous lines, such as 'Well there were three of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded,"' referring to Charles's long-standing affair with Bowles.

The Panorama interview seemed to put to rest any possibility of a reconciliation between the Prince and Princess of Wales. Shortly thereafter, the Queen took the unprecedented step of asking the couple to consider a divorce. On February 29, 1996, Diana gave her consent to a divorce - though again she violated protocol by not informing the Queen first. It was announced in July of 1996 that the royals had worked out the divorce terms. Diana would continue to be involved in all decisions about the children and the couple would share access to them, she would remain at Kensington Palace, and would be known as Diana, Princess of Wales - loosing the prefix H.R.H. (Her Royal Highness) and any right to ascend to the British throne. However, she kept all of her jewelry and received a lump-sum alimony settlement of almost $23 million, and Charles agreed to pay for the annual maintenance of her private office.

Diana continued her diplomatic role as Princess of Wales after the divorce. She visited terminally ill people in hospitals, traveled to Bosnia to meet the victims of land mines, and met Mother Teresa in New York City's South Bronx in June 1997. Romantically, the press linked her with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani-born heart surgeon and Dodi al Fayed, whose father owned Harrods Department Store in London. However, her number one priority remained her two sons.

As Diana spent more time with Fayed, the paparazzi hounded the couple, who could not go anywhere without cameras following close behind. On August 31, 1997, the paparazzi followed the couple after they dined at the Ritz Hotel in Paris (owned by Fayed's father). The combination of the pursuing paparazzi, driving at a high rate of speed, and having a drunk driver behind the wheel, all played into the automobile accident which claimed Princess Diana's life. Some witnesses stated that photographers frantically snapped pictures and obstructed police officers and rescue workers from aiding the victims. The driver and Fayed died at the scene; Princess Diana died from her injuries a few hours later.

Photographers on the scene faced possible charges under France's "Good Samaritan" law, which requires people to come to the aid of accident victims on public roads. However, several blood tests showed that driver Henri Paul was legally drunk. Legal experts believed that the investigation into Diana's death was likely to take months, possibly years, to determine how much the paparazzi, alcohol, and speed were to blame.

The world mourned for "the people's princess" with an outpouring of emotion and flowers. People waited up to eight hours to sign condolence books at St. James Palace, and 100,000 people per day passed through Kensington Palace, where Diana lived. Her mother, Francis Shand Kydd stated, "I thank God for the gift of Diana and for all her loving and giving. I give her back to Him, with my love, pride and admiration to rest in peace."

However, Britons and the British press soon lashed out at the royal family, who did not share in the public grieving. Headlines begged the family to "show us you care." Truly surprised by the backlash, Queen Elizabeth II went on live television the day before the funeral. It was only the second time in the queen's 45-year reign that she had appeared on live TV, not counting her annual Christmas greeting. She spoke as "your queen and as a grandmother," and stated "I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being."

Diana's funeral was held in Westminster Abbey on September 6th. Her sons, Princes Willam and Harry, her brother, Earl Spencer, her ex-husband, Prince Charles, and her ex-father-in-law, Prince Philip, as well as five representatives from each of the 110 charities she represented, followed the coffin during part of the funeral procession. Elton John re-wrote the song "Candle in the Wind" and sang "Goodbye England's Rose" for his close friend. It was estimated that 2.5 billion people watched Princess Diana's funeral on television, nearly half the population of the world. One royal watcher stated, "Diana made the monarchy more in touch with people."

Further Reading

Morton, Andrew, Diana: Her True Story, Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Morton, Andrew, Diana: her new life, Pocket Star, 1995.

Davies, Nicholas, Diana: the lonely princess, Carol Pub., 1996.

Clarke, Mary Little girl lost: the troubled childhood of Princess Diana by the woman who raised her, Carol Pub., 1996.

Daily Telegraph, November 29, 1994; November 15, 1995;November 22, 1995; February 12, 1996; February 29, 1996; March 4, 1996.

Esquire, June 1992.

Maclean's, July 24, 1989; August 5, 1991; June 15, 1992.

McCall's, June 1982.

Newsweek, October 28, 1985; February 6, 1989; June 22, 1992;September 15, 1997.

New York Times, March 30, 1992; June 9, 1992; June 20, 1992.

People, Spring 1988; July 16, 1990; September 14, 1992; September 15, 1997; September 22, 1997.

Saturday Evening Post, September 1989.

Time, March 9, 1981; August 3, 1981; February 28, 1983; November 11, 1985; July 29, 1991; September 15, 1997.


Diana, princess of Wales (1961-97). Lady Diana Spencer was the third daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp (Northants). Her father had been equerry to George VI 1950-2 and to Queen Elizabeth 1952-4. Lady Diana was educated at Riddlesworth Hall. Her marriage to Charles, prince of Wales, in 1981 attracted enormous public interest. Her two sons, William and Henry, were born in 1982 and 1984. Soon afterwards there were rumours that the princess was unhappy and in 1992 it was announced that she and Prince Charles were to separate. Divorce followed in 1996. Princess Diana was the subject and sometimes the victim of massive press coverage, but her attitude towards it often appeared ambivalent. She was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 and buried at Althorp.

Answer of the Day:

Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales  
Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales, was born on this date 45 years ago. The first wife of Prince Charles, she was 20 years old when they married. Prior to their marriage, Diana had been a kindergarten teacher. She became heavily involved in charitable work, worked tirelessly for concerns related to AIDS, and was a fierce opponent of the use of land mines. In 1996, Diana and Charles divorced after a four-year separation. The following year she and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were killed in a high-speed auto accident. Driver Henri Paul was also killed in the crash.

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From our Archives: Today's Highlights, July 1, 2006

Diana, princess of Wales, 1961-97, wife of Charles, prince of Wales, heir to the British throne. The daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, Lady Diana Frances Spencer was a kindergarten teacher in London before her 1981 marriage to Charles. They had two sons, the princes William (b. 1982) and Henry (b. 1984), but separated in 1992 and were divorced in 1996. Diana and Charles were rivals for acceptance by the British public after their marriage unraveled spectacularly; her death in a Paris car crash in Aug., 1997, brought a huge outpouring of sentiment.


See biographies by A. Morton (1992), S. B. Smith (1999), and A. Edwards (2000).

Wikipedia on Answers.com:

Diana, Princess of Wales

Princess of Wales; Duchess of Rothesay (more)
HRH the Princess of Wales at the White House, 1985.
Spouse Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
Prince Harry of Wales
House House of Windsor
Father Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Mother The Honourable Frances Ruth Roche
Born (1961-07-01)1 July 1961
Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Died 31 August 1997(1997-08-31) (aged 36)
Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, in Paris, France
Burial 6 September 1997
Althorp, Northamptonshire
Religion Anglican (Church of England)

Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances;[fn 1] née Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981.[1] She was also well known for her fund-raising work for international charities and as an eminent celebrity of the late 20th century. Her wedding to Charles, heir to the British throne and those of the then 18 Commonwealth realms, was held at St Paul's Cathedral and seen by a global television audience of over 750 million. While married she bore the titles Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester and Baroness of Renfrew. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William and Harry,[2] who became second and third in line to the British throne.

Diana was born into an aristocratic English family with royal ancestry and became a public figure with the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles. Diana also received recognition for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. From 1989, she was the president of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, in addition to dozens of other charities. She remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. Media attention and public mourning were considerable after her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997.


Early life

Diana was born at 7:45 PM on 1 July 1961, in Sandringham, Norfolk.[3][4] She was the fourth of five children of Viscount and Viscountess Althorp (née Frances Roche, later Shand Kydd).[3][4][5] The Spencers are one of Britain's oldest and most important families, closely allied with the Royal Family for several generations.[6] The Spencers were hoping for a boy to carry on the family line, and no name was chosen for a week, until they settled on Diana Frances, after Diana Russell, Duchess of Bedford, her distant relative who was also known as "Lady Diana Spencer" before marriage and who was also a prospective Princess of Wales, and her mother.[4] Diana was baptised at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.[7] Diana had three siblings: Sarah, Jane, and Charles.[3][5] Diana also had an infant brother, John, who died only a year before she was born.[4][5] The desire for an heir added strain to the Spencers' marriage, and Lady Althorp was reportedly sent to Harley Street clinics in London to determine the cause of the "problem".[4] The experience was described as "humiliating" by Diana's younger brother, Charles: "It was a dreadful time for my parents and probably the root of their divorce because I don't think they ever got over it."[7] Diana grew up in Park House, which was situated near to the Sandringham estate.[5]

Diana was eight years old when her parents divorced[8] after her mother had an affair with Peter Shand Kydd.[5] In Morton's book, he describes Diana's remembrance of Lord Althorp loading suitcases in the car and Lady Althorp crunching across the gravel forecourt and driving away through the gates of Park House.[4] Diana lived with her mother in London during her parents' separation, but during the Christmas holidays, Lord Althorp did not allow his ex-wife to return to London along with Diana. Shortly afterwards, Lord Althorp eventually won custody of Diana with support from his former mother-in-law, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy.[3] Diana was first educated at Riddlesworth Hall near Diss, Norfolk, and later attended boarding school at The New School at West Heath,[3] in Sevenoaks, Kent. In 1973, Lord Althorp began a relationship with Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and Barbara Cartland.[9] Diana became known as Lady Diana when her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer on 9 June 1975. Lady Dartmouth, unpopular with Diana, married Lord Spencer at Caxton Hall, London on 14 July 1976.[5] Diana was often noted for her shyness while growing up, but she did take an interest in both music and dancing. She also had a great interest in children. After attending finishing school at the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Switzerland, she moved to London. She began working with children, eventually becoming a nursery assistant at the Young England School.[3] Diana had apparently played with Princes Andrew and Edward as a child while her family rented Park House, a property owned by Queen Elizabeth II and situated on the Sandringham Estate.[3][10]


Coleherne Court, London (left)

In 1968, Diana was sent to Riddlesworth Hall, an all-girls boarding school.[11] While she was young, she attended a local public school. She did not shine academically, and was moved to West Heath Girls' School (later reorganised as The New School at West Heath) in Sevenoaks, Kent, where she was regarded as a poor student, having attempted and failed all of her O-levels twice.[11] However, she showed a particular talent for music as an accomplished pianist.[12] Her outstanding community spirit was recognised with an award from West Heath. In 1977, she left West Heath and briefly attended Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland. At about that time, she first met her future husband, who was then in a relationship with her older sister, Sarah. Diana also excelled in swimming and diving, and longed to be a professional ballerina with the Royal Ballet. She studied ballet for a time, but then grew too tall for the profession.

Diana moved to London in 1978 and lived in her mother's flat, as her mother then spent most of the year in Scotland. Soon afterwards, an apartment was purchased for £50,000 as an 18th birthday present, at Coleherne Court in Earls Court. She lived there until 1981 with three flatmates. In London, she took an advanced cooking course at her mother's suggestion, although she never became an adroit cook, and worked as a dance instructor for youth, until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work. She then found employment as a playgroup (pre-school) assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and several of her friends, and worked as a hostess at parties. Diana also spent time working as a nanny for an American family living in London.[13]

Marriage to the Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) had previously been linked to Lady Diana's elder sister Lady Sarah, and in his early thirties he was under increasing pressure to marry.

The Prince of Wales had known Lady Diana for several years, but he first took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an invitation to Balmoral (the Royal Family's Scottish residence) to meet his family. Lady Diana was well received by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple subsequently courted in London. The prince proposed on 6 February 1981, and Lady Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.[14]

Engagement and wedding

Charles and Diana's wedding commemorated on a 1981 British Crown.

Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981, after Lady Diana selected a large £30,000 ring (£94,800 in today's terms) consisting of 14 solitaire diamonds elegantly surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-karat white gold, similar to her mother's engagement ring.[15] The ring was made by the then Crown jewellers Garrard but, unusual for a member of the Royal Family, the ring was not unique and was, at the time, featured in Garrard's jewellery collection. The ring later became, in 2010, the engagement ring of Catherine Middleton.[16] It was copied by jewellers all over the world.[17]

Twenty-year-old Diana became Princess of Wales when she married the Prince of Wales on 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey, generally used for royal nuptials. It was widely billed as a "fairytale wedding", watched by a global television audience of 750 million while 600,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of Diana en route to the ceremony.[15][18] At the altar Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles's first two names, saying "Philip Charles" Arthur George instead.[19] She did not say that she would "obey" him; that traditional vow was left out at the couple's request, which caused some comment at the time.[20] Diana wore a dress valued at £9000 with a 25-foot (8-metre) train.[21]

The Prince and Princess of Wales spent part of their honeymoon at the Mountbatten family home at Broadlands, Hampshire, before flying to Gibraltar to join the Royal Yacht HMY Britannia for a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean to Egypt.[1] They also visited Tunisia, Sardinia and Greece. They finished their honeymoon with a stay at Balmoral.[1]

After becoming Princess of Wales, Diana automatically acquired rank as the second highest female in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence (after the Queen), and as typically fifth or sixth in the orders of precedence of her other realms, following the Queen, the relevant viceroy, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales. Within a few years of the marriage, the Queen extended Diana visible tokens of membership in the Royal Family; the gift of a tiara and the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.[22]


The Prince and Princess of Wales after the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of York

On 5 November 1981, the Princess' first pregnancy was officially announced, and she frankly discussed her pregnancy with members of the press corps.[23] After Diana fell down a staircase at Sandringham in January 1982, 12 weeks into her first pregnancy, the royal gynaecologist Sir George Pinker was summoned from London. He found that although she had suffered severe bruising, the foetus was uninjured.[24] In the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London on 21 June 1982, under the care of Pinker,[24] the Princess gave natural birth to her and the Prince's first son and heir, William Arthur Philip Louis.[25] Amidst some media criticism, she decided to take William, still a baby, on her first major tours of Australia and New Zealand, but the decision was popularly applauded. By her own admission, the Princess of Wales had not initially intended to take William until it was suggested by Malcolm Fraser, the Australian prime minister.[26]

A second son, Henry Charles Albert David, was born two years after William, on 15 September 1984.[27] The Princess asserted she and the Prince were closest during her pregnancy with "Harry" (as the younger prince has always been known). She was aware their second child was a boy, but did not share the knowledge with anyone else, including the Prince of Wales.[28]

Even her harshest critics agree that the Princess of Wales was a devoted, imaginative and demonstrative mother.[29] She rarely deferred to the Prince or to the Royal Family, and was often intransigent when it came to the children. She chose their first given names, dismissed a royal family nanny and engaged one of her own choosing, selected their schools and clothing, planned their outings and took them to school herself as often as her schedule permitted. She also negotiated her public duties around their timetables.[29]

Royal duties

The Prince and Princess of Wales with Sandro Pertini in 1985.

After her marriage with the Prince of Wales, Diana quickly became involved in the official duties of the Royal Family.[30] Her first tour with the Prince of Wales was a three-day visit to Wales in October 1981.[30] In 1982, Diana accompanied the Prince of Wales to Netherlands and was created a Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.[31] In 1983, she accompanied the Prince on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Prince William, where they met with the country's native people, who honored the couple with a traditional boat tour and gifts representing their civilization.[30][32] From June to July 1983, the Prince and Princess undertook official visits to Canada for the official opening of World Universities Games and to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Sir Humphrey Gilbert taking possession of Newfoundland.[33]

From left to right, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the United States First Lady Nancy Reagan, and United States President Ronald Reagan in November 1985.

In April 1985, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Italy with their children, Princes William and Harry and met with President Alessandro Pertini.[30] Their visit to the Holy See included a private audience with Pope John Paul II.[34] The Princess made her inaugural overseas tour, to the United States, in November 1985.[30] During their tour in the United States, they met with President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White house. 1986 was a busy year for Diana. With the Prince of Wales they embarked on a tour of Japan, Indonesia, Spain[32] and Canada.[33] In Japan, the Princess was presented with a $40,000 silk kimono and as part of her humanitarian work, the Princess of Wales visited the Red Cross Infants Home for Disabled Children in Tokyo.[35] One of the main official visits the royal couple made was to the Tokyo Imperial Palace, where Emperor Hirohito held a state banquet on their honour.[35] In Spain, the couple were greeted by the students of arts and music in the University of Salamanca. Charles and Diana were close friends to King Juan Carlos and his family. The couple used to spend their summer vacation in Majorca, a favorite royal destination.[32] In Canada they visited Expo 86.[33]

In February 1987, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Portugal.[36] The visit had been arranged to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in 1387 which had bound Britain and Portugal in "perpetual friendship".[36] The Prince and Princess of Wales attended a banquet held in their honour by President Mário Soares at the Ajuda National Palace.[36] In 1987, Charles and Diana were also invited to visit Germany and France to attend the Cannes Film Festival.[32][37] In 1988, the Prince and Princess of Wales toured Australia for the bicentenary celebrations.[30][38] In 1989, the couple were invited to visit the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, where they met with the British citizens, visited Schools of British Scots in the region and joined members of the royal families in state dinners and desert picnics.[32] The tour began in Kuwait and they stayed in the As-Salam Palace at Shuwaikh Port as guests of the Kuwait Government.[39] During their visit, they had an audience with the Emir of Kuwait, followed by lunch.[39] They also had an audience with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Kuwait, who hosted a dinner in their honour.[39] Diana was also given a chest full of gold jewelry, a silver tea set, and a gold embroidered Bedouin gown.[39] During their tour in Kuwait, the Princess visited The Kuwait Handicapped Society, reflecting her ongoing interest in children and their needs.[39] In Saudi Arabia, the Princess was invited to King Fahd's palace, a rare honour for a member of her gender.[39] In Oman, the Sultan of Oman presented Diana with a Queen's ransom in jewels.[39] The tour finished in United Arab Emirates.[39]

The Prince and Princess of Wales with President Richard von Weizsäcker and First Lady Marianne von Weizsäcker in Bonn, 2 November 1987.

In March 1990, she joined the Prince of Wales to tour Nigeria and Cameroon.[40] During their tour, the Princess visited children's hospitals, traditional hand loom weavers and women's development projects.[40] The President of Cameroon later hosted an official dinner to welcome them in Yaoundé.[40] In May 1990, they undertook an official visit to Hungary.[41] The royal couple were met at the airport by their host, newly elected interim President Árpád Göncz.[41] President Göncz later hosted an official dinner to welcome the royal couple.[41] During their four-day trip, the couple met with government officials, business officials and artists and the Princess viewed a display of British fashion at the Museum of Applied Arts.[41] In November 1990, the royal couple went to Japan to attend the enthronement of Emperor Akihito.[30][42] In 1991, the Princess went with the Prince of Wales and her children to undertake an official visit to Canada to present replica of Queen Victoria's Royal Charter to Queen's University, on the 150th anniversary of the university's 1841 founding.[33] In that year, they also visited Brazil.[32] During their tour in Brazil, Diana visited the orphanage and an Aids Treatment Centre for children. She also met the Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello and First Lady Rosane Collor in Brasilia.[43] Their last joint overseas visits were to India and South Korea in 1992.[30][32]

The Princess' first official visit overseas on her own was in September 1982, when she represented her mother-in-law at the State funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco.[30] The Princess of Wales' first solo overseas tour was in February 1984, when she travelled to Norway to attend a performance of Carmen by the London City Ballet, of which she was patron.[30] In Fornebu airport, Diana was received in by Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja of Norway. In September 1991, the Princess visited Pakistan.[32] During her visit, Diana helped the needy families in Lahore, met with Islamic scholars and students.[32] In 1992, the Princess of Wales made a short visit to Egypt, where she visited local schools and treatment centres for handicapped children in Cairo.[32] She was invited to stay at the British Ambassador's villa. During her stay, she met with President Hosni Mubarak.[44] She also visited historical sights such as the Pyramids, Luxor and Karnak temples.[32] She was accompanied by Dr. Zaki Hawas, a famous Egyptian arecaologist. In February 1995, the Princess visited Japan and was received by the Emperor and Empress of Japan.[42] In June 1995, Diana went to Venice to visit the Venice Biennale art festival.[45] In November 1995, the Princess undertook a four-day trip to Argentina and met with President Carlos Menem and his daughter, Zulemita, for lunch.[46][47] The Princess visited many other countries including Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nepal.[30]

Diana was renowned for her style and was closely associated with the fashion world, patronising and raising the profile of younger British designers, but she was best known for her charitable work.[30] In December 1993, the Princess of Wales announced that she would be reducing the extent of her public life in order to combine 'a meaningful public role with a more private life'.[30]

After her separation from Prince Charles, the Princess 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.[30] The Princess spent her 36th and last birthday on 1 July 1997 attending the Tate Gallery's 100th anniversary celebrations.[30] Her last official engagement in Britain was on 21 July, when she visited the children's accident and emergency unit at Park Hospital, London.[30]

Charity work and patronage

The Princess of Wales on a royal visit for the official opening of the community centre on Whitehall Road, Bristol in May 1987.

Although in 1983 she confided in the then-Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Peckford, "I am finding it very difficult to cope with the pressures of being Princess of Wales, but I am learning to cope,"[48] from the mid-1980s, the Princess of Wales became increasingly associated with numerous charities. As Princess of Wales she was expected to make regular public appearances at hospitals, schools, and other facilities, in the 20th century model of royal patronage. The Princess developed an intense interest in serious illnesses and health-related matters outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy. In addition, she was the patroness of charities and organisations working with the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. From 1989, she was President of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. In the same year, Diana became President of the British marital advice organisations, which she ended in 1996.[49]

The day after her divorce, she announced her resignation from over 100 charities to spend more time with the remaining six.[50] Following her divorce, she remained patron of 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.[51] In June 1997, the Princess attended receptions in London and New York as previews of the sale of a number of dresses and suits worn by her on official engagements, with the proceeds going to charity.[30]

During her final year Diana lent highly visible support to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a campaign which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, only a few months after her death.[52]

Problems and separation

During the early 1990s, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales fell apart, an event at first suppressed, then sensationalised, by the world media. Both the Prince and Princess allegedly spoke to the press through friends, each blaming the other for the marriage's demise.

The chronology of the break-up[53] identifies reported difficulties between the Prince and Princess as early as 1985. The Princess of Wales began an affair with Major James Hewitt, and the Prince of Wales returned to his former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles. These affairs were exposed in May 1992 with the publication of Diana: Her True Story, by Andrew Morton. The book, which also laid bare the Princess' allegedly suicidal unhappiness, caused a media storm. This publication was followed during 1992 and 1993 by leaked tapes of telephone conversations which negatively reflected on both the royal antagonists. Transcripts of taped intimate conversations between the Princess and James Gilbey were published by the Sun newspaper in Britain in August 1992. The article's title, "Squidgygate", referenced Gilbey's affectionate nickname for Diana. The next to surface, in November 1992, were the leaked "Camillagate" tapes, intimate exchanges between the Prince of Wales and Camilla, published in Today and the Mirror newspapers.

The Princess of Wales presents Memo Gracida a trophy at Guards Polo Club in 1987.

In the meantime, rumours had begun to surface about the Princess of Wales's relationship with James Hewitt, her former riding instructor. These would be brought into the open by the publication in 1994 of Princess in Love. Princess in Love by David Greene was a film released in 1996 that is based on this publication. The Princess of Wales was portrayed by Julie Cox, whereas James Hewitt was portrayed by Christopher Villiers.[54]

In December 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced the Wales's "amicable separation" to the House of Commons,[55] and the full Camillagate transcript was published a month later in the newspapers, in January 1993. On 3 December 1993, the Princess of Wales announced her withdrawal from public life.[56] The Prince of Wales sought public understanding via a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on 29 June 1994. In this he confirmed his own extramarital affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, saying that he had rekindled their association in 1986, only after his marriage to the Princess had "irretrievably broken down".[57][58]

While she blamed Camilla Parker-Bowles for her marital troubles because of her previous relationship with the Prince, the Princess at some point began to believe that he had other affairs. In October 1993, she wrote to a friend that she believed her husband was now in love with Tiggy Legge-Bourke and wanted to marry her.[59] Legge-Bourke had been hired by the Prince as a young companion for his sons while they were in his care, and the Princess was extremely resentful of Legge-Bourke and her relationship with the young princes.

Princess Margaret burnt "highly personal" letters that Diana wrote to the Queen Mother in 1993 because she thought they were considered to be "so private". Biographer William Shawcross wrote: "No doubt Princess Margaret felt that she was protecting her mother and other members of the family". He considered Princess Margaret's action to be "understandable, although regrettable from a historical viewpoint".[60]


The Princess of Wales at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.

The Princess of Wales was interviewed for the BBC current affairs show Panorama[61] by journalist Martin Bashir; the interview was broadcast on 20 November 1995. Of her relationship with Hewitt, the Princess said to Bashir, "Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down [by him]." Referring to her husband's affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, she said, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Of herself, she said, "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts." On the Prince of Wales' suitability for kingship, she stated, "Because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that."[62]

In December 1995, as a direct result of the Princess's Panorama interview, the Queen asked the Prince and Princess of Wales for "an early divorce"[63] This followed shortly after the Princess' accusation that Tiggy Legge-Bourke had aborted the Prince's child, after which Legge-Bourke instructed Peter Carter-Ruck to demand an apology.[63] Two days before this story broke, Diana's secretary Patrick Jephson resigned, later writing that the Princess had "exulted in accusing Legge-Bourke of having had an abortion".[64]

The Princess of Wales with Alexander Yakovlev at the International Leonardo Prize in 1995.

On 20 December 1995, Buckingham Palace publicly announced the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales advising them to divorce. The Queen's move was backed by the Prime Minister and by senior Privy Counsellors, and, according to the BBC, was decided after two weeks of talks.[65] The Prince immediately agreed with the suggestion. In February, the Princess announced her agreement after negotiations with the Prince and representatives of the Queen, irritating Buckingham Palace by issuing her own announcement of a divorce agreement and its terms.

The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996.[56] Diana received a lump sum settlement of around £17 million along with a clause standard in royal divorces preventing her from discussing the details.[66]

Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. In accordance, as she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales, Diana lost the style Her Royal Highness and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales.[fn 2] As the mother of the prince expected to one day ascend the thrones, she was accorded the same precedence she enjoyed during her marriage.[67]

Almost a year before, according to Tina Brown, the Duke of Edinburgh had warned the Princess of Wales: "If you don't behave, my girl, we'll take your title away." The Princess of Wales is said to have replied: "My title (The Lady Diana Frances Spencer) is a lot older than yours, Philip." She noted that the Spencer family, the family she was born to, is older and more aristocratic than the House of Windsor.[68]

Buckingham Palace stated the Princess of Wales was still a member of the Royal Family, as she was the mother of the second and third in line to the throne. This was confirmed by the Deputy Coroner of the Queen's Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, after a pre-hearing on 8 January 2007: "I am satisfied that at her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be considered as a member of the Royal Household."[69] This appears to have been confirmed in the High Court judicial review matter of Al Fayed & Ors v Butler-Sloss.[70] In that case, three High Court judges accepted submissions that the "very name ‘Coroner to the Queen's Household’ gave the appearance of partiality in the context of inquests into the deaths of two people, one of whom was a member of the Family and the other was not."[70]

Prince William comforted her, and he was said to have wanted to let her have the style of Her Royal Highness again. He was reported to have said: "Don't worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King."[71]

Personal life after divorce

Diana, Princess of Wales, meeting with Sri Chinmoy, May 1997 at her Kensington Palace apartments

After the divorce, Diana retained her double apartment on the north side of Kensington Palace, which she had shared with the Prince of Wales since the first year of their marriage, and it remained her home until her death.

Diana dated the respected heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, who was called "the love of her life" after her death by many of her closest friends,[72] for almost two years, before Khan ended the relationship.[73][74] Khan was intensely private and the relationship was conducted in secrecy, with Diana lying to members of the press who questioned her about it. According to Khan's testimonial at the inquest for her death, it was Diana herself, not Khan, who ended their relationship in a late-night meeting in Hyde Park, which adjoins the grounds of Kensington Palace, in June 1997.

Within a month Diana had begun seeing Dodi Fayed, son of her host that summer, Mohamed Al-Fayed. Diana had considered taking her sons that summer on a holiday to the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, but security officials had prevented it. After deciding against a trip to Thailand, she accepted Fayed's invitation to join his family in the south of France, where his compound and large security detail would not cause concern to the Royal Protection squad. Mohamed Al-Fayed bought a multi-million pound yacht, the Jonikal, a 60-metre yacht on which to entertain Diana and her sons.


Diana, Princess of Wales, chatting with Hillary Rodham Clinton, 18 June 1997

In January 1997, pictures of Diana touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were seen worldwide. It was during this campaign that some accused her of meddling in politics and declared her a 'loose cannon'.[75] In June 1997, the Princess spoke at the landmines conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London, and this was followed by a visit to Washington, D.C. in the United States on 17/18 June to promote the American Red Cross landmines campaign (separately, she also met Mother Teresa in the Bronx, New York).[30] In August 1997, just days before her death, she visited Bosnia and Herzegovina with Jerry White and Ken Rutherford of the Landmine Survivors Network.[76] Her interest in landmines was focused on the injuries they create, often to children, long after a conflict is over.

She is believed to have influenced the signing, though only after her death, of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines.[77] Introducing the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill 1998 to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, paid tribute to Diana's work on landmines:

All Honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines.[78]

The United Nations appealed to the nations which produced and stockpiled the largest numbers of landmines (United States, China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia) to sign the Ottawa Treaty forbidding their production and use, for which Diana had campaigned. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that landmines remained "a deadly attraction for children, whose innate curiosity and need for play often lure them directly into harm's way".[79]


East entrance[80] to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, where Diana, Princess of Wales had a fatal car crash

On 31 August 1997, Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, which also caused the deaths of her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul, acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. Millions of people watched her funeral.[81]

Conspiracy theories and inquest

The initial French judicial investigation concluded the accident was caused by Henri Paul's drunken loss of control.[82] In February 1998, Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Paris Ritz, for whom Paul had worked, publicly maintained that the crash had been planned,[83] accusing MI6 as well as the Duke of Edinburgh.[84] An inquest in London starting in 2004 and continued in 2007–2008[85] attributed the accident to grossly negligent driving by Henri Paul and to the pursuing paparazzi.[86] On 7 April 2008, the jury returned a verdict of 'unlawful killing' due to the intoxication of Mohamed Al-Fayed's employee. The day following the final verdict of the inquest, Al-Fayed announced he would end his 10-year campaign to establish that the deaths of Diana and his son was murder rather than an accident. Al Fayed claimed he did so for the sake of the princess's children.[87]

Tribute, funeral, and burial

Funeral cortege of Diana, Princess of Wales. Her coffin was transported on a gun carriage

The sudden and unexpected death of an extraordinarily popular royal figure brought statements from senior figures worldwide and many tributes by members of the public. People left public offerings of flowers, candles, cards and personal messages outside Kensington Palace for many months.

Diana's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997. The previous day Queen Elizabeth II had paid tribute to her in a live television broadcast.[88] Her sons, the Princes William and Harry, walked in the funeral procession behind her coffin, along with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh, and with Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer. Lord Spencer said of his sister, "She proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic."[89]


Within hours after Diana's death, grieving Britons began offering flowers outside Diana's home in Kensington Palace
The Flame of Liberty at the entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, in July 2001


People continue to place offerings for Diana at the gate to Kensington Palace

Immediately after her death, many sites around the world became briefly ad hoc memorials to Diana, where the public left flowers and other tributes. The largest was outside the gates of Kensington Palace, where people continue to leave flowers and tributes to Diana.

The Flame of Liberty, erected in 1989 on the Place de l'Alma in Paris, above the entrance to the tunnel in which the fatal crash occurred, has become an unofficial memorial to Diana.[90]

Permanent memorials include:

In addition, there are two displays inside Harrods department store, erected by Mohamed Al-Fayed. The first consists of pyramid-shaped display containing a photo of Diana flanked by a photo of Dodi Fayed, a wine glass allegedly smudged with Diana's lipstick from her last meal, and the 'engagement' ring which Al-Fayed claimed his son purchased for the princess.[91] The second is a bronze statue of Dodi Al-Fayed dancing with the princess under an albatross.[92]


Following Diana's death, the Diana Memorial Fund was granted intellectual property rights over her image.[93] In 1998, after refusing the Franklin Mint an official license to produce Diana merchandise, the fund sued the company, accusing it of illegally selling Diana dolls, plates and jewellery.[94] In California, where the initial case was tried, a suit to preserve the right of publicity may be filed on behalf of a dead person, but only if that person is a Californian. The Memorial Fund therefore filed the lawsuit on behalf of the estate and, upon losing the case, were required to pay the Franklin Mint's legal costs of £3 million which, combined with other fees, caused the Memorial Fund to freeze their grants to charities.[95] In 2003, the Franklin Mint counter-sued. In November 2004, the case was settled out of court with the Diana Memorial Fund agreeing to pay £13.5 million (US $21.5 million) to charitable causes on which both sides agreed. In addition to this, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund had spent a total of close to £4 million (US $6.5 million) in costs and fees relating to this litigation, and as a result froze grants allocated to a number of charities.[96]

Today, pursuant to this lawsuit, two California companies continue to sell Diana memorabilia without the need for any permission from Diana's estate: the Franklin Mint and Princess Ring LLC.

In 1998, Azermarka issued postage stamps with both Azeri and English captions, commemorating Diana. The English text reads "Diana, Princess of Wales. The Princess that captured people's hearts".

Diana in contemporary art

The Lake at Althorp with the Diana memorial beyond

Diana has been depicted in contemporary art since her death. Some of the artworks have referenced the conspiracy theories, as well as paying tribute to Diana's compassion and acknowledging her perceived victimhood.

In July 1999, Tracey Emin created a number of monoprint drawings featuring textual references about Diana's public and private life, for Temple of Diana, a themed exhibition at The Blue Gallery, London. Works such as They Wanted You To Be Destroyed (1999)[97] related to Diana's bulimia, while others included affectionate texts such as Love Was On Your Side and Diana's Dress with puffy sleeves. Another text praised her selflessness – The things you did to help other people, showing Diana in protective clothing walking through a minefield in Angola – while another referenced the conspiracy theories. Of her drawings, Emin maintained "They're quite sentimental . . . and there's nothing cynical about it whatsoever."[98]

In 2005 Martin Sastre premiered during the Venice Biennial the film Diana: The Rose Conspiracy. This fictional work starts with the world discovering Diana alive and enjoying a happy undercover new life in a dangerous favela on the outskirts of Montevideo. Shot on a genuine Uruguayan slum and using a Diana impersonator from São Paulo, the film was selected among the Venice Biennial's best works by the Italian Art Critics Association.[99]

In 2007, following an earlier series referencing the conspiracy theories, Stella Vine created a series of Diana paintings for her first major solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford gallery.[100] Vine intended to portray Diana's combined strength and vulnerability as well as her closeness to her two sons.[101] The works, all completed in 2007, included Diana branches, Diana family picnic, Diana veil and Diana pram, which incorporated the quotation "I vow to thee my country".[102] Immodesty Blaize said she had been entranced by Diana crash, finding it "by turns horrifying, bemusing and funny".[103] Vine asserted her own abiding attraction to "the beauty and the tragedy of Diana's life".[101]

Later events

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park, London, UK

On 13 July 2006 Italian magazine Chi published photographs showing Diana amid the wreckage of the car crash,[104] despite an unofficial blackout on such photographs being published.[105][fn 3] The editor of Chi defended his decision by saying he published the photographs simply because they had not been previously seen, and he felt the images are not disrespectful to the memory of Diana.[105]

1 July 2007 marked a concert at Wembley Stadium. The event, organised by the Princes William and Harry, celebrated the 46th anniversary of their mother's birth and occurred a few weeks before the 10th anniversary of her death on 31 August.[106]

The 2007 docudrama Diana: Last Days of a Princess details the final two months of her life. She was portrayed by Irish actress Genevieve O'Reilly.[107] On an October 2007 episode of The Chaser's War on Everything, Andrew Hansen mocked Diana in his "Eulogy Song", which immediately created considerable controversy in the Australian media.[108]

The midnight-blue gown that Diana wore when she famously danced with John Travolta at the White House, which became known as the "Travolta dress", was sold for £510,000 in 2011.[109]


John Travolta and The Princess of Wales dancing at the White House

From her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in 1997, Diana was a major presence on the world stage, often described as the "world's most photographed woman" (although other sources split this title between her and Grace Kelly). She was noted for her compassion,[110] style, charisma, and high-profile charity work, as well as her difficult marriage to the Prince of Wales.

Royal biographer Sarah Bradford commented, "The only cure for her (Diana's) suffering would have been the love of the Prince of Wales, which she so passionately desired, something which would always be denied her. His was the final rejection; the way in which he consistently denigrated her reduced her to despair."[111] Diana herself commented, "My husband made me feel inadequate in every possible way that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again ..."[111] Biographers Tina Brown and Paul Burrell, among others, while sympathetic to Prince Charles, have set forth Charles's emotional mistreatment of Diana, particularly as regards Charles's flaunting of his married mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Diana stated that she suffered from depression, to the point that she self-harmed. She evidenced that she suffered from bulimia nervosa from 1981 onwards.[112] Her candid revelations of her depression and her bulimia encouraged people suffering from these diseases to cease being ashamed of them, and to come forward and seek treatment.

In 2002, Diana was ranked 3rd on the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, outranking The Queen and other British monarchs.[113] In 1999, TIME named Diana one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.[114]

Titles, styles, honours, and arms

Royal styles of
The Princess of Wales
Arms of Diana, Princess of Wales (1981-1996).svg
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

Titles and styles

  • 1 July 1961 – 9 June 1975: The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer
  • 9 June 1975 – 29 July 1981: Lady Diana Frances Spencer
  • 29 July 1981 – 28 August 1996: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales
    • in Scotland: 29 July 1981 – 28 August 1996: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay
  • 28 August 1996 – 31 August 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales

Posthumously, as in life, she is most popularly referred to as "Princess Diana", a title not formally correct and a title she never held.[fn 4] Still, she is sometimes referred to (according to the tradition of using maiden names after death) in the media as "Lady Diana Spencer", or simply as "Lady Di". Due to a speech of Tony Blair, she was also often referred to as the People's Princess.[115]

Diana's full title, while married, was: Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland.


See also List of honours of the British Royal Family by country

British honours


Foreign honours

Honorary military appointments

The Princess of Wales held the following military appointments:

United Kingdom United Kingdom



Name Birth Marriage Issue
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge 21 June 1982 29 April 2011 Catherine Middleton
Prince Harry of Wales 15 September 1984


Diana by birth was a member of the Spencer family, one of the oldest and most prominent noble families in Britain, different branches of which currently hold the titles of Duke of Marlborough, Earl Spencer and Viscount Churchill. The Spencers claimed to have descended from a cadet branch of the powerful medieval Despenser family, but its validity is still being questioned. Diana's great-grandmother was Margaret Baring, a member of the German-British Baring family of bankers and the daughter of Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke. Diana's distant noble ancestors include the legendary John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Prince of Mindelheim, his equally famous wife, the powerful and influential Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, Britain's first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, 2nd Duke of Alba, one of the most powerful men of his era, Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, and Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey. She is also a distant relative of the dukes of Abercorn, Bedford, Richmond, Devonshire, Gordon and most of the members of the British aristocracy.

Diana's fourth great-grandmother, Eliza Kewark, is often claimed to be Armenian.[119][120] However, Kewark's exact ancestry is unknown; she is variously described in contemporary documents as "a dark-skinned native woman", "an Armenian woman from Bombay", and "Mrs. Forbesian".[121] Possibly, Kewark was an Indian, and the family deliberately pretended she was Armenian to expunge the "stigma of what was then known as 'coloured blood'."[122] Diana's ancestry also connects her with most of Europe's royal houses. Diana is descended from the House of Stuart through Charles II's illegitimate sons Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, and Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and from James II's daughter, Henrietta FitzJames, Countess of Newcastle, an ancestry she shares with the current Dukes of Alba. From the House of Stuart, Diana is a descendant of the House of Bourbon from the line Henry IV of France and of the House of Medici from the line of Marie de' Medici. She is also a descendant of powerful Italian noble families such as that of the House of Sforza who ruled as the Dukes of Milan from the line of the legendary Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì. Diana also descends from the House of Wittelsbach via morganatic line from Frederick V, Elector Palatine and of the House of Hanover via Sophia von Platen und Hallermund, Countess of Leinster and Darlington, the illegitimate daughter of Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg and the half sister of George I. Diana also descends from the House of Toledo of the original dukes of Alba and Medina Sidonia, who itself descends from the medieval royal House of Burgundy which rule the Kingdoms of Galicia, Castile and León through the line of Alfonso XI, King of Castile.

Diana also descended from ancient noble and royal Gaelic families of Ireland from her mother's side. From her maternal great-great grandfather, Edmond Roche, 1st Baron Fermoy, Diana descends from both the O'Donovan family who ruled the Kingdom of Desmond until the 13th century and became semi-sovereign princes of Carbery from the line of Donal IV O'Donovan, Lord of Clancahill, the De Barry family, an ancient family of Cambro-Norman origins who descends from Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn, a Welsh prince and the O'Shaughnessy family, a family which descends from Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, King of Connacht.

See also


  1. ^ As a titled royal, Diana held no surname, but, when one was used while she was married, it was Mountbatten-Windsor. According to letters patent dated February 1960, their official family name was Windsor.
  2. ^ Although it was asserted in 1996 that Diana would after the divorce be called "Lady Diana, Princess of Wales", the Royal website in reporting her demise referred to her as "Diana, Princess of Wales".
  3. ^ The photographs, taken minutes after the accident, show her slumped in the back seat while a paramedic attempts to fit an oxygen mask over her face.
  4. ^ The style "Princess Diana", although often used by the public and the media during her lifetime, was always incorrect. With rare exceptions (such as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester) only women born to the title (such as The Princess Anne) may use it before their given names. After her divorce in 1996, Diana was officially styled Diana, Princess of Wales, having lost the prefix "HRH"


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  • Morton, Andrew (1992). Diana: Her True Story In Her Own Words. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
  • Mattern, Joane (2006). Princess Diana (DK Biography). New York, NY: DK Publishing.

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