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Diana, Princess of Wales

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Diana, Princess of Wales

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Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances Mountbatten-Windsor, née Spencer) (July 1, 1961–August 31, 1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. Her two sons, Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales (called Prince Harry), are second and third in line to the British throne.

From her marriage in 1981 to her divorce in 1996, she was called Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. After her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, Diana ceased to be The Princess of Wales and lost the resulting Royal Highness style.

As the former wife of the heir to the throne she received a title based on the ex-wives of peers, namely her personal name, followed by her title. Under Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II she was known after her divorce as Diana, Princess of Wales. Posthumously she is most popularly referred to as Princess Diana, a title she never held. She is also sometimes known by her former titles above.

Diana: Unfinished Business - The Princess of Wales Versus the British Establishment By Garrick Alder

"With wit and cool detachment, he examines the world in which the Princess operated and presents key official evidence that was not seen by the jury at her inquest. Providing dramatic historical insights into monarchical power and the machinations of the British establishment, he invites us to take a fresh look at the way the UK is run"

Diana: Closely Guarded Secret (Diana Princess of Wales) By Ken Wharfe, Robert Jobson

"the voice of a man who is, above all, an exceptionally perceptive observer of the extraordinary events he watched unfold around the Princess during what was perhaps the most crucial period of her life. Packed with anecdotes, his account provides the most intimate portrait of Diana to date, as well as a fitting tribute to one of the outstanding figures of our age"



Diana Princess of Wales

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An iconic presence on the world stage, Diana was noted for her charity work. Yet her charity was overshadowed by her scandal-plagued marriage to Prince Charles.

Her bitter claims, via friends and biographers, of adultery and mental cruelty from Prince Charles and the royal family and her own admissions of adultery and numerous love affairs riveted the world for much of the 1990s. This spawned books, tabloid, magazine articles, and television movies.

Comment "we love you Diana forever"

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From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world

She was the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her involvement in AIDS and the campaign against landmines.

During her lifetime, she was often described as the most photographed person in the world. To her admirers, the Princess of Wales was a role model — after her death, there were even calls for her to be nominated for sainthood

Her detractors considered her to have been mentally ill, possibly with Borderline Personality Disorder, long before her marriage and regarded her life as a cautionary tale of how untreated psychiatric problems and an obsession with publicity can ultimately destroy human beings.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1985

Public Domain Ronald Regan Library

November 1985

Early years

Diana Frances Spencer was born as the youngest daughter of Edward Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and his first wife, Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp at Park House on the Sandringham estate.

She was baptized at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. Her godparents included John Floyd (the chairman of Christie's) and Mary Colman (a niece of the Queen Mother). Partially American in ancestry — a great-grandmother was the American heiress Frances Work - she was also a descendant of King Charles I.

"Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back."

Princess Diana - The Guardian, December 9, 1995


During her parents' unpleasant divorce over Lady Althorp's adultery with wallpaper heir Peter Shand Kydd, Diana's mother sued for custody of her children,

Lord Althorp's rank, aided by Lady Althorp's mother's testimony against her daughter during the trial, meant custody of Diana and her brother was awarded to their father.

On the death of her paternal grandfather, Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, in 1975, Diana's father became the 8th Earl Spencer, and she acquired the courtesy title of The Lady Diana Spencer and moved from her childhood home at Park House to her family's sixteenth-century ancestral home of Althorp.

A year later, Lord Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of the novelist Barbara Cartland, after being named as the "other party" in the Earl and Countess of Dartmouth's divorce.

Diana was educated at Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk and at West Heath Girls' School, a special school for boys and girls) in Sevenoaks, Kent.

She was regarded as an below-average student academically, having failed all of her O-level examinations. In 1977, aged 16, she left West Heath and briefly attended Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland. Diana was a talented amateur singer, excelled in sports and longed to be a ballerina.

Family and marriage

Diana's family, the Spencers, had been close to the British Royal Family for decades. Her maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a long time friend and a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother.

The Prince's love life had always been the subject of press speculation, and he was linked to numerous women. Nearing his mid-thirties, he was under increasing pressure to marry.

Legally, the only requirement was that he could not marry a Roman Catholic. In order to gain the approval of his family and their advisors, a potential bride was expected to have an aristocratic background, as well as be Protestant.

Reportedly and this has never been confirmed, the Prince's former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles helped him select the 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer as a potential bride.

Diana was working as a part-time assistant at the "Young England Kindergarten," a day care center and nursery school in Pimlico. Contrary to claims, she was not a "kindergarten teacher," since she had no educational qualifications to teach. "Young England" was not a kindergarten, despite its name.

It was at this school that the famous iconic snap of a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer was taken by John Minihan. The morning sun to her back, her legs in silhouette through her skirt.

Buckingham Palace announced the engagement on 24 February 1981. The wedding took place in St Paul's Cathedral in London on Wednesday, 29 July 1981. There were 3,500 invited guests and an estimated 1 billion television viewers around the world.

Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry the heir to the throne since 1659, when Lady Anne Hyde married the Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II. Upon her marriage, Diana became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. She was ranked as the third most senior royal woman in the United Kingdom after the Queen and the Queen Mother.

The Prince and Princess of Wales had two children within three years of marriage. Prince William of Wales on 21 June 1982 and Prince Henry of Wales (commonly called Prince Harry) on 15 September 1984.

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta 1985
Public domain Ronal Regan Library

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta 1985

After the birth of Prince William, the Princess of Wales apparently suffered from post-natal depression. She had previously (before her marriage) suffered from bulimia nervosa, which recurred. Before the birth of Prince William, she made some half-hearted suicide attempts.

In an interview, years later, she claimed that, while pregnant with Prince William, she threw herself down some stairs and was discovered by the Queen.

It has been suggested she did not, in fact, intend to end her life and that she was merely making a 'cry for help'. In the same interview in which she told of the suicide attempt while pregnant with Prince William. She said her husband had accused her of crying wolf when she threatened to kill herself.

In the mid 1980s, the marriage of Diana and Charles fell apart, first suppressed but then sensationalized, by the media. Both the Prince and Princess of Wales allegedly spoke to the press through friends, each blaming the other for the marriage's failure.

Charles resumed his old, pre-marital relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana became involved with her riding instructor James Hewitt and perhaps later with James Gilbey in the so-called Squidgygate affair. She later confirmed in a television interview that she had had an affair with Hewitt.

Another alleged lover was a bodyguard assigned to Princess Diana but she strongly denied the relationship.

After the separation from Prince Charles, Diana was, in some way, involved with married art dealer Oliver Hoare and with rugby player Will Carling. She also publicly dated respected heart surgeon Hasnat Khan before her involvement with Dodi Fayed.

"I do things differently, because I don't go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that's got me into trouble in my work, I understand that. "


The Prince and Princess of Wales separated on 9 December 1992; their divorce finalised on 28 August 1996. Here style was changed from Her Royal Highness to Diana, Princess of Wales. Since the divorce, Buckingham Palace have maintained that Diana was still a member of the Royal Family, since she was still the mother of the heirs to the throne.

In 2004, seven years after her death, NBC TV broadcast videotapes of Diana discussing her marriage to the Prince of Wales, including her suicide attempts. The tapes were in the possession of the Princess, but after her death, her butler took them. After legal wrangling, they were given to the Princess's voice coach, who filmed them originally. These tapes have not been broadcast in the UK.

Charity work

In the mid-to-late 1980s, the Princess of Wales became known for her support of charity. This arose naturally from her role as Princess of Wales. Diana, is remembered for her considerable influence against landmines and helping AIDS victims.


In April 1987, the Princess of Wales was the first high-profile celebrity to be photographed knowingly touching a person infected with HIV. Her contribution to changing the public opinion on AIDS sufferers was expressed by Bill Clinton in December 2001.

In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change world opinion, and gave hope to people with AIDS with an outcome of saved lives of people at risk.

Diana also made secret visits to show kindness to terminally ill AIDS patients. According to nurses, she would turn up unannounced, with specific instructions not to tell the media.

Princess Diana Memorial in Hyde Park London

by synaethesia - creative commons

Princess Diana Memorial in Hyde Park London


Perhaps her most well-publicised charity appearance was her visit to Angola in January 1997, when, serving as an International Red Cross VIP volunteer [2], she visited landmine survivors in hospitals, toured de-mining projects run by the HALO Trust, and attended mine awareness education classes about the dangers of mines immediately surrounding homes and villages.

The pictures of Diana touring a minefield, in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket, were seen worldwide. (In reality, mine experts had already cleared and prepared the pre-planned walk that Diana took wearing the protective equipment.) In August that year, she visited Bosnia with the Landmine Survivors Network. Her interest in landmines was focused on the injuries they create, often to children, long after a conflict is over.

She is believed[3] to have influenced (though after and perhaps as a result of her death) the signing, by the governments of the UK and other nations in December, 1997, of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. 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. [4]

As of January 2005, however, Diana's activities regarding landmines had borne little fruit. The United Nations appealed to the nations which produced and stockpiled the largest numbers of landmines (China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States) 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". [5]


Diana's interest in supporting and helping young people led to the establishment of the Diana Memorial Award, awarded to youths who have demonstrated the unselfish devotion and commitment to causes advocated by the Princess.

It is also confirmed that Diana's favourite rock band was popular 1980s British rockers Dire Straits.


On 31 August 1997 Diana was involved in a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, along with her new lover Dodi Al-Fayed, and their driver Henri Paul. Their Mercedes crashed on the thirteenth pillar of the tunnel. Fayed's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was closest to the point of impact and yet the only survivor of the crash, since he was the only occupant of the car who was wearing a seatbelt. Henri Paul and Dodi Fayed were killed instantly. Diana, unbelted in the back seat, slid forward during the impact and "submarined" under the seat in front, causing massive internal bleeding from which she soon died despite lengthy resuscitation attempts.

Such was the reach of Diana's iconic impact worldwide that news of her death became a milestone in personal history, comparable to such as the death of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.


The death of Diana has been the subject of widespread theories, supported by Mohamed Al-Fayed, whose son died in the accident. These were rejected by French investigators and British officials, who stated that the driver, Henri Paul, was drunk and on drugs. Among Mr Al-Fayed's suggestions were that Diana was pregnant by Dodi at the time of her death and that Dodi had just bought her an engagement ring, although witnesses to autopsies reported that the princess had not been pregnant and the jeweller cited by Mr Al-Fayed denied knowledge of the engagement ring. Nonetheless, in 2004 the authorities ordered an independent inquiry by Lord Stevens, a former chief of the Metropolitan Police, and he suggested that the case was "far more complex than any of us thought" and reported "new forensic evidence" and witnesses Telegraph, May 2006. The inquiry is expected to report its findings in 2007. The French authorities have also decided to reopen the case.[6]

Several press photos were taken of the crash scene within moments of the crash. On 13 July 2006 Italian magazine Chi published photographs showing Diana in her "last moments" despite an unofficial blackout on such photographs being published. The photographs were taken minutes after the accident and show the Princess slumped in the back seat while a paramedic attempts to fit an oxygen mask over her face. The photographs were also published in other Italian and Spanish magazines and newspapers.

The editor of Chi defended his decision by saying he published the photographs for the "simple reason that they haven't been seen before" and that he felt the images do not disrespect the memory of the Princess. The British media have refused to publish these images.

Final resting place

Princess Diana's final resting place is said to be in the grounds of Althorp Park, her family home. [7] The original plan was for her to be buried in the family vault at the local church in nearby Great Brington, but her brother, Earl Spencer, said he was concerned about public safety and security and wanted his sister to be buried where her grave could be looked after properly and visited in privacy by her sons.

Lord Spencer said he had decided she would be buried on an island in an ornamental lake known as The Oval within Althorp Park's Pleasure Garden. A path with 36 oak trees, marking each year of her life, leads to the Oval. Four black swans swim in the lake, symbolizing sentinels guarding the island. Charles Spencer saw this vision in a dream. In the water there are several water lilies. White roses and lilies were Diana's favorite flowers.[8] On the southern verge of the Round Oval sits the Summerhouse, previously in the gardens of Admiralty House, London, and now serving as a memorial to Princess Diana. [9] An ancient arboretum stands nearby, which contains trees planted by Prince William and Prince Harry, other members of her family and the princess herself.


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

The style "Princess Diana" was always incorrect, though often used by the public and the media. With rare exceptions, as in the case of Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, only women born to the title (such as Princess Anne) may use it before their given names. After her divorce in 1996, Diana was officially styled "Diana, Princess of Wales", based on Letters Patent issued by The Queen on the same date of the signature of the divorce settlement, although she could not be called "Her Royal Highness." Even the style "Princess of Wales" would have lapsed had Diana remarried.

During her marriage to Charles, her full title was Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles, 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.


Prior to her marriage, much research was done into Diana's lineage by genealogists. It was much publicized that her ancestry included links to individuals such as Hollywood screen legend Humphrey Bogart (who was her 7th cousin), and poet Edmund Spenser, the author of The Faerie Queen [10]. Actor Oliver Platt is more closely related; both he and Diana, Princess of Wales are descendants of Frances Work, a late 19th-century American heiress who was briefly the wife of the Hon. James Burke Roche, later 3rd Baron Fermoy.

The Flame of Liberty
Public Domain

The Flame of Liberty, which sits above the entrance to the Paris tunnel in which Diana died. The public fly-posted the base with commemorative material for several years. This material has since been removed by the French authorities.


  1. ^ Some continued, erroneously, to call Diana a "HRH" even after she had lost the style and title in her divorce.
  2. ^ Someone can only be referred to as Princess <name> under either of two conditions. Firstly, they are the daughter of the the sovereign, as in Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Mary, daughter of King George V or Princess Margaret, daughter of King George VI. Alternatively the title can be awarded to them. Neither applied in Diana's case. Marriage to a prince does not make someone a princess in her own right, it merely extends to them the female form of their husband's title. In the case of Diana, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, she was Princess of Wales. Diana was in fact the first Princess of Wales not to be a princess in her own right. Her predecessors, such as Alexandra of Denmark (later Queen Alexandra) and Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary, consort of George V), were themselves royal princesses by birth, and so legally Princess Alexandra and Princess Mary. The widely used name Princess Diana in reality did not exist in law and was merely a popular and media invention.
  3. ^ The suggestion that Charles authorised his story of the split to be communicated is disputed by his friends, who claim that he told his friends not to speak, a prohibition some of them breached under anonymity.
  4. ^ Curry, Ann ([2004-11-30]). Tapes reveal more from Princess Diana. NBC News. Retrieved on 2006-06-02.

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we love you Diana forever

I think that Princess Diana was an awesome person and it is so sad she died.

Diana, when the queen is dead and gone, u will go on through ur boys. U will be fondly remembered as the queen of hearts.

I'm doing Princess Diana for my World Geography Project and I've loved working on her lifestyle it was so awesome to have her for my person. <3 Ceirra M

I love princess diana and i think everyone should look up to her. I am only 11 so i was never really alive when she was around but i am doing my history project on her and i really do love her! x


princess you met my mum in 1985 at a party x

Princess Diana is my role model to this day and will be for ever more. I love you princess diana.

Princess Diana was a wonderful person and her death was a tragic loss to everyone. we will all miss the wonderful Princess.

she was damn kind

I'm doing an English essay on Diana, and its great [=

Diana was great

wish i could see her in my lifetime

Diana was someone that everyone could look up to and NO one could disagree with that so I'm saying to Diana thank you for being someone so great and powerful to this day

R.I.P Princess


I like it

Reference to Armenian people removed, apologies if offence caused

Even though many year's passed by, we'll always keep her in mind.

i hate those paparazzi....happy birthday Diana wherever you are!! i don't know why only good people die :(

Princess Diana was a beautiful. beautiful Lady... I never have seen beauty quite like it, and i don't think i ever will again. Such a loss for this country and the world, Chloe x


Pictures of the late Diana, Princess of Wales please

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