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Princess Diana

Princess Diana

Princess Diana. Photo by: slagheap.

Early Life

Princess Diana was born on 1 July 1961 at Park House in Sandringham, Norfolk.  She was the fourth out of five children to John Spencer and Frances Viscountess Althorp. Diana had three siblings: Sarah, Jane, and Charles; She also had an infant brother, John, who died only a year before she was born. When Princess Diana was only 8, her parents divorced. This left Princess Diana living with her mother in London during her parents’ separation. Shortly after the divorce Princess Diana’s father, John Spencer and the eighth Earl Spencer, won custody of Princess Diana. After her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975, the Princess Diana became known as Lady Diana.

In 1968, Diana was sent to Riddlesworth Hall School, an all-girls boarding school but while she was young, she attended a local public school. Princess Diana did not shine academically, and was moved to West Heath Girls’ School in Sevenoaks, Kent, where she was regarded as a poor student, having attempted and failed all of her O-levels twice. In 1997 is about the time she first met her future husband, who was then in a relationship with her older sister, Sarah.

Diana moved to London in 1978 and lived in her mother’s flat, as her mother then spent most of the year in Scotland. In London, she took an advanced cooking course at her mother’s suggestion, although she never became a skillful 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 assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and several of her friends, and acted as a hostess at parties.

Marriage to the Prince of Wales

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, had previously been linked to Princess Diana’s elder sister Lady Sarah but in his early thirties he was under pressure to marry. The Prince of Wales had known Princess Diana since November 1977 when he and

Princess Diana

Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales on their wedding day! Photo by: Joe Haupt

Lady Sarah were dating. 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; which was followed by an invitation to Balmoral (the Royal Family’s Scottish residence) to meet his family a weekend in November 1980. The couple courted in London and the prince proposed on 6 February 1981. Princess Diana accepted but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks. 20 year old Princess 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. 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 Princess Diana en route to the ceremony. She was the first Englishwoman to marry the heir to the throne for 300 years. On June 21, 1982 Princess Diana gave birth to her and the Prince of Wales first son, Prince William. A second son, Prince Henry, was born two years after William, on 15 September 1984. Although later on in Princess Diana’s life her marriage to the Prince began to fall apart. 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 divorce was finalized on 28 August 1996.

Charity Work

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. She did a lot of charity works, visiting terminally ill people over the world, leading campaigns for animal protection, AIDS awareness and against the use of inhumane weapons. Princess Diana’s main focus areas revolved around Leprosy, HIV/AIDS, Landmines, Homelessness and Cancer.

In November 1989, the Princess visited a leprosy hospital in Indonesia and touched the bandaged wounds of patients. The Princess was famously the first member of the Royal Family to have contact with AIDS victims and helped to break down global misconceptions about the disease. Princess Diana was the patron of HALO Trust, the world’s oldest and largest landmine clearance organization In January 1997, pictures of Princess Diana touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were seen worldwide. Princess Diana was a long-standing and active supporter of Centrepoint, a charity which provides accommodation and support to homeless people, and became patron herself in 1992. Princess Diana was often seen visiting young kids afflicted with cancer or battling debilitating diseases requiring surgery.       

Death

Princess Diana

Flowers for the Princess Diana’s funeral. Rest in peace Princess. Photo by: Maxwell Hamilton.

On 31 August 1997, Princess 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.