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Diana, Princess of Wales

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Princess of Wales (more)
Diana, Princess of Wales 1997 (2).jpg
Diana in June 1997
BornDiana Frances Spencer
(1961-07-01)1 July 1961
Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Died31 August 1997(1997-08-31) (aged 36)
Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France
Burial6 September 1997
Charles, Prince of Wales
(m. 1981; div. 1996)
FatherJohn Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
MotherFrances Shand Kydd
SignatureDiana's signature

Diana, Princess of Wales (née Diana Frances Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was a member of the British royal family. She was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, and the mother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

Diana was born into the Spencer family, a family of British nobility, and she was the youngest daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Althorp. She grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate, and was educated in England and Switzerland. In 1975, after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer, she became known as Lady Diana Spencer, a style she would retain until her marriage.

Diana came to prominence in February 1981 upon her engagement to Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. Their wedding took place at St Paul's Cathedral on 29 July 1981 and made her Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, and Countess of Chester. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William and Harry, who were then respectively second and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As Princess of Wales, Diana undertook royal duties on behalf of the Queen and represented her at functions overseas. She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Diana was involved with dozens of charities including London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989. She also raised awareness and advocated ways to help people affected with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental illness.

Diana remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996 following well-publicised extramarital affairs by both parties. Media attention and public mourning were extensive after her death in a car crash in a Paris tunnel on 31 August 1997 and subsequent televised funeral.

Early life

Diana Frances Spencer was born on 1 July 1961, in Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk.[1] She was the fourth of five children of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (1924–1992), and his first wife, Frances (née Roche; 1936–2004).[2] The Spencer family has been closely allied with the British royal family for several generations;[3] Diana's grandmothers had served as ladies-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[4] 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 her mother and after Lady Diana Spencer, a many-times-great-aunt who was also a prospective Princess of Wales.[5]

On 30 August 1961,[6] Diana was baptised at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.[5] She grew up with three siblings: Sarah, Jane, and Charles.[7] Her infant brother, John, died shortly after his birth one year before Diana was born.[8] 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".[5] 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."[5] Diana grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate.[9] The Spencers leased the house from its owner, Queen Elizabeth II. The royal family frequently holidayed at the neighbouring Sandringham House, and Diana played with the Queen's sons Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.[10]

Diana was seven years old when her parents divorced.[11] Her mother later began a relationship with Peter Shand Kydd and married him in 1969.[12] Diana lived with her mother in London during her parents' separation in 1967, but during that year's Christmas holidays, Lord Althorp refused to let Diana return to London with Lady Althorp. Shortly afterwards he won custody of Diana with support from his former mother-in-law, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy.[13] In 1976, Lord Althorp married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth.[14] Diana's relationship with her stepmother was particularly bad.[15] She resented Raine, whom she called a "bully", and on one occasion Diana "pushed her down the stairs".[15] She later described her childhood as "very unhappy" and "very unstable, the whole thing".[16] Diana became known as Lady Diana after her father later inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975, at which point her father moved the entire family from Park House to Althorp, the Spencer seat in Northamptonshire.[17]

Education and career

Diana was initially home-schooled under the supervision of her governess, Gertrude Allen.[18] She began her formal education at Silfield Private School in Gayton, Norfolk, and moved to Riddlesworth Hall School, an all-girls boarding school near Thetford, when she was nine.[19] She joined her sisters at West Heath Girls' School in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1973.[20] She did not shine academically, failing her O-levels twice. Her outstanding community spirit was recognised with an award from West Heath.[21] She left West Heath when she was sixteen.[22] Her brother Charles recalls her as being quite shy up until that time.[23] She showed a talent for music as an accomplished pianist.[21] Diana also excelled in swimming and diving, and studied ballet and tap dance.[24]

After attending Institut Alpin Videmanette (a finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland) for one term in 1978, Diana returned to London, where she shared her mother's flat with two school friends.[25] In London, she took an advanced cooking course, but seldom cooked for her roommates. She took a series of low-paying jobs; she worked as a dance instructor for youth until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work.[26] She then found employment as a playgroup pre-school assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and several of her friends, and acted as a hostess at parties. Diana spent time working as a nanny for the Robertsons, an American family living in London,[27] and worked as a nursery teacher's assistant at the Young England School in Pimlico.[28] In July 1979, her mother bought her a flat at Coleherne Court in Earl's Court as an 18th birthday present.[29] She lived there with three flatmates until 25 February 1981.[30]


Lady Diana first met Charles, Prince of Wales, the Queen's eldest son and heir apparent, when she was 16 in November 1977. He was then dating her older sister, Lady Sarah.[31][32] They were guests at a country weekend during the summer of 1980 when she watched him play polo and he took a serious interest in Diana as a potential bride. The relationship progressed when he invited her aboard the royal yacht Britannia for a sailing weekend to Cowes. This was followed by an invitation to Balmoral (the royal family's Scottish residence) to meet his family one weekend in November 1980.[33][34] Lady Diana was well received by the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles subsequently courted Diana in London. The Prince proposed on 6 February 1981, and Lady Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.[30]

Engagement and wedding

The wedding of Charles and Diana commemorated on a 1981 British Crown

Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981.[18] Diana selected a large engagement ring that consisted of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold,[18] which was similar to her mother's engagement ring. The ring was made by the Crown jewellers Garrard. In 2010, it became the engagement ring of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[35] The Queen Mother gave Diana a sapphire and diamond brooch as an engagement present.[36]

Following the engagement, Diana left her occupation as a kindergarten assistant and lived for a short period at Clarence House, which was the home of the Queen Mother.[37] She then lived at Buckingham Palace until the wedding.[37] Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry the first in line to the throne since Anne Hyde over 300 years earlier, and she was also the first royal bride to have a paying job before her engagement.[21][18] She made her first public appearance with Prince Charles in a charity ball in March 1981 at Goldsmiths' Hall, where she met Grace Kelly, who was the Princess of Monaco.[37]

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, a church that was generally used for royal nuptials.[21][18] The service was widely described as a "fairytale wedding" and was watched by a global television audience of 750 million people while 600,000 spectators lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple en route to the ceremony.[18][38] At the altar, Diana inadvertently reversed the order of Charles's first two names, saying "Philip Charles" Arthur George instead.[38] 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.[39] Diana wore a dress valued at £9,000 with a 25-foot (7.62-metre) train.[40]

After she became Princess of Wales, Diana automatically acquired rank as the third-highest female in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence (after the Queen and the Queen Mother), and was fifth or sixth in the orders of precedence of her other realms, following the Queen, the relevant viceroy, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, and the Prince of Wales. Within a few years of the wedding, the Queen extended Diana visible tokens of membership in the royal family; she lent the Princess the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara,[41][42] and granted her the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.[43]


The couple had residences at Kensington Palace and Highgrove House, near Tetbury. On 5 November 1981, the Princess's pregnancy was officially announced.[44] In January 1982—twelve weeks into the pregnancy—Diana fell down a staircase at Sandringham, and the royal gynaecologist Sir George Pinker was summoned from London. He found that although she had suffered severe bruising, the foetus was uninjured.[45] Diana later confessed that she had intentionally thrown herself down the stairs because she was feeling "so inadequate".[46] In February 1982, pictures of a pregnant Diana in bikini while holidaying was published in the media. The Queen subsequently released a statement and called it "the blackest day in the history of British journalism."[47] On 21 June 1982, the Princess gave birth to the couple's first son, Prince William.[48] Amidst some media criticism, she decided to take William—who was still a baby—on her first major tours of Australia and New Zealand, and the decision was popularly applauded. By her own admission, the Princess of Wales had not initially intended to take William until Malcolm Fraser, the Australian prime minister, made the suggestion.[49]

A second son, Prince Henry (always known as Harry), was born on 15 September 1984.[50] The Princess said she and the Prince were closest during her pregnancy with Harry. She was aware that their second child was a boy, but did not share the knowledge with anyone else, including the Prince of Wales.[51]

Diana gave her sons wider experiences than was usual for royal children.[18][52][53] 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 organised her public duties around their timetables.[54]

Problems and separation

The Prince and Princess of Wales after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1986

Five years into the marriage, the couple's incompatibility and age difference of almost 13 years became visible and damaging.[55] Charles resumed his relationship with his former girlfriend Camilla Parker Bowles, and Diana later began an affair with Major James Hewitt, the family's former riding instructor. The media speculated that Hewitt, not Charles, was Harry's father based on the alleged physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry, but Harry was born before the affair began.[51][56] In 1989, Diana was at a birthday party for Camilla's sister, Annabel Elliot, when she confronted Camilla about her and Charles's extramarital affair.[57][58] These affairs were later exposed in May 1992 with the publication of Andrew Morton's book, Diana: Her True Story.[59][60] The book, which also revealed the Princess's allegedly suicidal unhappiness, caused a media storm. Morton later revealed that in 1991 he had also conducted a secret interview with Diana in which she had talked about her marital issues and difficulties.[61] The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana and unsuccessfully tried to effect a reconciliation.[62] Philip wrote to Diana and expressed his disappointment at the extra-marital affairs of both her and Charles; he asked her to examine their behaviour from the other's point of view.[63] The Duke was direct and Diana was sensitive.[64] She found the letters hard to take, but nevertheless, she appreciated that he was acting with good intent.[65]

During 1992 and 1993, leaked tapes of telephone conversations reflected negatively on both the Prince and Princess of Wales. Tape recordings of the Princess and James Gilbey were made public in August 1992,[66] and transcripts were published the same month.[18] The article, "Squidgygate", was followed in November 1992 by the leaked "Camillagate" tapes, intimate exchanges between the Prince and Camilla, published in the tabloids.[67][68] In December 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced the couple's "amicable separation" to the House of Commons.[69]

Between 1992 and 1993, Diana hired voice coach Peter Settelen to help her develop her public speaking voice.[70] In a videotape recorded by Settelen in 1992, Diana admitted that in 1984 through to 1986, she had been "deeply in love with someone who worked in this environment."[71][72] It is thought she was referring to Barry Mannakee,[73] who was transferred to the Diplomatic Protection Squad in 1986 after his managers had determined that his relationship with Diana had been inappropriate.[72][74] Diana said in the tape that Mannakee had been "chucked out" from his role as her bodyguard following suspicion that the two were having an affair.[71] Penny Junor suggested in her 1998 book that the Princess was in a romantic relationship with Mannakee.[75] Diana's friends dismissed the claim as absurd.[75] However, in the subsequently released tapes Diana stated that she had feelings for that "someone", saying that "I was quite happy to give all this up [and] just to go off and live with him". She described him as "the greatest friend [she's] ever had", though she denied any sexual relationship with him.[76] She also spoke bitterly of her husband saying that "[He] made me feel so inadequate in every possible way, that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again."[77] Charles's aunt, Princess Margaret, burned "highly personal" letters that Diana had written to the Queen Mother in 1993. Biographer William Shawcross considered Margaret's action to be "understandable" as she was "protecting her mother and other members of the family", but "regrettable from a historical viewpoint".[78]

Although she blamed Camilla Parker Bowles for her marital troubles, Diana began to believe that her husband had also been involved in other affairs. In October 1993, the Princess wrote to her butler Paul Burrell, telling him that she believed her husband was now in love with his personal assistant Tiggy Legge-Bourke—who was also his sons' former nanny—and was planning to have her killed "to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy".[79][80] 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 resentful of Legge-Bourke and her relationship with the young princes.[81] Prince Charles sought public understanding via a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on 29 June 1994. In the interview, he said that he had rekindled his relationship with Camilla in 1986 only after his marriage to the Princess had "irretrievably broken down".[82][83][84]

In the same year, the News of the World claimed that Diana had made over 300 phone calls to the married art dealer Oliver Hoare.[85][86] These calls were proven to have been made from both her Kensington Palace apartment and from the phone box just outside the palace. According to Hoare's obituary, there was little doubt that she had been in a relationship with him.[87] However, the Princess denied any romantic relationship with Hoare, whom she described as a friend, and said that "a young boy" was the source of the nuisance calls made to Hoare.[88][89] She was also linked by the press to rugby union player Will Carling[90][91] and private equity investor Theodore J. Forstmann,[92][93] yet these claims were never confirmed.[94][95]


Journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Diana for the BBC current affairs show Panorama. The interview was broadcast on 20 November 1995.[96] The Princess discussed her and her husband's extramarital affairs.[97] Referring to Charles's relationship with Camilla, she said: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." She also expressed doubt about her husband's suitability for kingship.[96] Authors Tina Brown, Sally Bedell Smith and Sarah Bradford support Diana's admission in the interview that she had suffered from depression, "rampant bulimia" and had engaged numerous times in the act of self mutilation; the show's transcript records Diana confirming many of her mental health problems, including that she had "hurt (her) arms and legs".[96] The combination of illnesses from which Diana herself said that she suffered resulted in some of her biographers opining that she had a borderline personality disorder.[98][99]

The interview proved to be the tipping point. On 20 December, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales, advising them to divorce.[100][101] 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.[102] Charles formally agreed to the divorce in a written statement soon after.[100] In February 1996, the Princess announced her agreement after negotiations with the Prince and representatives of the Queen,[103] irritating Buckingham Palace by issuing her own announcement of the divorce agreement and its terms. In July 1996, the couple agreed on the terms of their divorce.[104] This followed shortly after the Princess's accusation that the Prince's personal assistant Tiggy Legge-Bourke had aborted the Prince's child, after which Legge-Bourke instructed her attorney Peter Carter-Ruck to demand an apology.[105][106] Diana's secretary Patrick Jephson resigned shortly before the story broke, later writing that the Princess had "exulted in accusing Legge-Bourke of having had an abortion".[107][108]

The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996.[109] Diana received a lump sum settlement of £17 million as well as £400,000 per year. The couple signed a confidentiality agreement that prohibited them from discussing the details of the divorce or of their married life.[110][104] Days before, letters patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. Diana lost the style "Her Royal Highness" and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales. As the mother of the prince expected to one day ascend to the throne, she continued to be regarded as a member of the royal family and was accorded the same precedence she enjoyed during her marriage.[111] The Queen reportedly wanted to let Diana continue to use the style of Royal Highness after her divorce, but Charles had insisted on removing it.[104] Prince William was reported to have reassured his mother: "Don't worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King."[112] 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." She is said to have replied: "My title is a lot older than yours, Philip."[113] Diana and her mother quarrelled in May 1997 after she told Hello! magazine that Diana was happy to lose the royal style. They were reportedly not on speaking terms with each other by the time of Diana's death.[114] By contrast, Diana's relationship with her estranged stepmother reportedly improved in the years before her death in 1997.[115][116]

Public life

Public appearances

Charles and Diana in Woombye, 1983

Following her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana made her first official public appearance in March 1981 in a charity event at Goldsmiths' Hall.[117][118] In October 1981, the Prince and Princess visited Wales.[21][119] Diana attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time on 4 November 1981.[120] Her first solo engagement was a visit to Regent Street on 18 November 1981 to switch on the Christmas lights.[121] She attended the Trooping the Colour for the first time in June 1982, making her appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards. The Princess made her inaugural overseas tour in September 1982, to attend the state funeral of Grace, Princess of Monaco.[21] Also in 1982, Diana accompanied the Prince of Wales to the Netherlands and was created a Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown by Queen Beatrix.[122] In 1983, she accompanied the Prince on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Prince William, where they met with representatives of the Māori people.[21] Their visit to Canada in June and July 1983 included a trip to Edmonton to open the 1983 Summer Universiade and a stop in Newfoundland to commemorate the 400th anniversary of that island's acquisition by the Crown.[123]

In February 1984, Diana was the patron of London City Ballet when she travelled to Norway on her own to attend a performance organised by the company.[21] In April 1985, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Italy, and were later joined by Princes William and Harry.[21] They met with President Alessandro Pertini. Their visit to the Holy See included a private audience with Pope John Paul II.[124] In November 1985, the couple visited the United States,[21] meeting President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House. Diana had a busy year in 1986. She embarked with the Prince of Wales on a tour of Japan, Indonesia, Spain, and Canada.[123] In Canada they visited Expo 86,[123] where Diana fainted in the California Pavilion.[125][126] In 1988, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Thailand and toured Australia for the bicentenary celebrations.[21][127] In February 1989, she spent a few days in New York as a solo visit. During a tour of Harlem Hospital Center, she made a profound impact on the public by spontaneously hugging a seven-year-old child with AIDS.[128]

Charles and Diana with the US Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife Marilyn following the enthronement of Emperor Akihito, 1990

In March 1990, she and the Prince of Wales toured Nigeria and Cameroon.[129] The President of Cameroon hosted an official dinner to welcome them in Yaoundé.[129] Highlights of the tour included visits by the Princess of Wales to hospitals and projects focusing on women's development.[129] In May 1990, they visited Hungary for four days.[128][130] It was the first visit by members of the royal family to "a former Warsaw Pact country".[128] They attended a dinner hosted by President Árpád Göncz and viewed a fashion display at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest.[130] Peto Institute was among the places that were visited by the Princess, and she presented its director with an honorary OBE.[128] In November 1990, the royal couple went to Japan to attend the enthronement of Emperor Akihito.[21][131]

In her desire to play an encouraging role during the Gulf War, the Princess of Wales visited Germany in December 1990 to meet with the families of soldiers.[128] She subsequently travelled to Germany in January 1991 to visit RAF Bruggen, and later wrote an encouraging letter which was published in Soldier, Navy News and RAF News.[128] In 1991, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where they presented the university with a replica of their royal charter.[132] In September 1991, the Princess visited Pakistan on a solo trip, and went to Brazil with Charles.[133] During the Brazilian tour, Diana paid visits to organisations that battled homelessness among street children.[133] Her final trips with Charles were to India and South Korea in 1992.[21] She visited Mother Teresa's hospice in Kolkata, India, in 1992.[134] The two women met each other again that year[135] and developed a personal relationship.[134] It was also during the Indian tour that pictures of Diana alone in front of the Taj Mahal made headlines.[136][137]

In December 1993, she announced that she would withdraw from public life, but in November 1994 she stated that she wished to "make a partial return".[21][128] In her capacity as the vice-president of British Red Cross, she was interested in playing an important role for its 125th anniversary celebrations.[128] Later, the Queen formally invited her to attend the anniversary celebrations of D-Day.[21] In February 1995, the Princess visited Japan.[131] She paid a formal visit to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko,[131] and visited the National Children's Hospital in Tokyo.[138] In June 1995, Diana went to the Venice Biennale art festival,[139] and also visited Moscow where she received the International Leonardo Prize.[140][141] In November 1995, the Princess undertook a four-day trip to Argentina in order to attend a charity event.[142] The Princess visited many other countries, including Belgium, Nepal, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe, alongside numerous others.[21] During her separation from Charles which lasted for almost four years, she participated in major national occasions as a senior member of the royal family, notably including "the commemorations of the 50th anniversaries of Victory in Europe Day and Victory over Japan Day" in 1995.[21] The Princess's 36th and final birthday celebration was held at Tate Gallery, which was also a commemorative event for the gallery's 100th anniversary.[21]

Charity work and patronage

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 with it."[143] 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. From the mid-1980s, she became increasingly associated with numerous charities. She carried out 191 official engagements in 1988[144] and 397 in 1991.[145] 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 recognition of her effect as a philanthropist, Stephen Lee, director of the UK Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers, said "Her overall effect on charity is probably more significant than any other person's in the 20th century."[146]

The Princess at the official opening of the community centre on Whitehall Road, Bristol, in May 1987

Diana's extensive charity work also included campaigning for animal protection and fighting against the use of landmines.[147] She was the patroness of charities and organisations who worked with the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. From 1989, she was president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. She was patron of the Natural History Museum[148][149] and president of the Royal Academy of Music.[105][150][148] From 1984 to 1996, she was president of Barnardo's, a charity founded by Dr. Thomas John Barnardo in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people.[151][148] In 1988, she became patron of the British Red Cross and supported its organisations in other countries such as Australia and Canada.[128] She made several lengthy visits each week to Royal Brompton Hospital, where she worked to comfort seriously ill or dying patients.[134] From 1991 to 1996, she was a patron of Headway, a brain injury association.[148][152] In 1992, she became the first patron of Chester Childbirth Appeal, a charity that she had supported since 1984.[153] The charity, which is named after one of Diana's royal titles, could raise over £1 million with her help.[153] In 1994, she helped her friend Julia Samuel launch the charity Child Bereavement UK which supports children "of military families, those of suicide victims, [and] terminally-ill parents," and became its patron.[154] Prince William later replaced his mother as the charity's royal patron.[155]

Her patronages also included Landmine Survivors Network,[150] Help the Aged,[150][148] the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery,[150][148] the British Lung Foundation,[150][148] Eureka! (joint patron with Prince Charles),[150][148] the National Children's Orchestra,[150][148][128] British Red Cross Youth,[156][148] the Guinness Trust,[148] Meningitis Trust,[148][128] the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children,[148][128] the Royal School for the Blind,[148][128] Welsh National Opera,[148][128] the Variety Club of New Zealand,[157][148] Birthright,[148][158] the British Deaf Association (for which she learned sign language),[156][148][159] All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club,[148] Anglo-European College of Chiropractic,[148] Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland,[148] Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital,[148] British Sports Association for the Disabled,[148] British Youth Opera,[148] Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England,[148] London City Ballet,[148] London Symphony Orchestra,[148] Pre-School Playgroups Association,[148][128] as well as president or patron of other charities.[148]

Diana and Luciano Pavarotti at the benefit concert Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Bosnia in Modena, Italy, September 1995

In 1987, Diana was awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of London, the highest honour which is in the power of the City of London to bestow on someone.[160][161] In June 1995, the Princess travelled to Moscow. She paid a visit to a children's hospital that she had previously supported when she provided them with medical equipment. In Moscow, she received the International Leonardo Prize, which is given to "the most distinguished patrons and people in the arts, medicine, and sports".[147] In December 1995, Diana received the United Cerebral Palsy Humanitarian of the Year Award in New York City for her philanthropic efforts.[162][163][164] In October 1996, for her works on the elderly, the Princess was awarded a gold medal at a health care conference organised by the Pio Manzù Centre in Rimini, Italy.[165]

The day after her divorce, she announced her resignation from over 100 charities and retained patronages of only six: Centrepoint, English National Ballet, Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Leprosy Mission, National AIDS Trust, and the Royal Marsden Hospital.[166] She continued her work with the British Red Cross Anti-Personnel Land Mines Campaign, but was no longer listed as patron.[167][168]

In May 1997, the Princess opened the Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts in Leicester, after being asked by her friend Richard Attenborough.[169] In June 1997, her dresses and suits were sold at Christie's auction houses in London and New York, and the proceeds that were earned from these events were donated to charities.[21] Her final official engagement was a visit to Northwick Park Hospital, London, on 21 July 1997.[21]

Areas of work


The Princess began her work with AIDS victims in the 1980s.[170] In 1989, she opened Landmark Aids Centre in South London.[171][172] She was not averse to making physical contact with AIDS patients, though it was still unknown whether the disease could be spread that way.[134][173][174] Diana was the first British royal figure to contact AIDS patients.[170] In 1987, she held hands with an AIDS patient in one of her early efforts to de-stigmatise the condition.[175][176] Diana noted: "HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it. What's more, you can share their homes, their workplaces, and their playgrounds and toys."[128][177][178] To Diana's disappointment, the Queen did not support this type of charity work, suggesting she get involved in "something more pleasant".[170] In October 1990, Diana opened Grandma's House, a home for young AIDS victims in Washington, D.C.[179] She was also a patron of the National AIDS Trust.[128] In 1991, she famously hugged one victim during a visit to the AIDS ward of the Middlesex Hospital,[128] which she had opened in 1987 as the first hospital unit dedicated to this cause in the UK.[175][180] As the patron of Turning Point, a health and social care organisation, Diana visited its project in London for people with HIV/AIDS in 1992.[181] She later established and led fundraising campaigns for AIDS research.[18]

In March 1997, Diana visited South Africa, where she met with President Nelson Mandela.[182][183] On 2 November 2002, Mandela announced that the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund would be teaming up with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to help victims of AIDS.[184] They had planned the combination of the two charities a few months before her death.[184] Mandela later praised Diana for her efforts surrounding the issue of HIV/AIDS: "When she stroked the limbs of someone with leprosy or sat on the bed of a man with HIV/AIDS and held his hand, she transformed public attitudes and improved the life chances of such people".[185] Diana had used her celebrity status to "fight stigma attached to people living with HIV/AIDS", Mandela said.[184] In 2009, a panel including Sir Ian McKellen and Alan Hollinghurst chose Diana's portrait to be shown in the Gay Icons exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London.[186] In October 2017, the Attitude magazine honoured Diana with its Legacy Award for her HIV/AIDS work. Prince Harry accepted the award on behalf of his mother.[180][187]


U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton and Diana chat in the Map Room following a landmines campaign fund-raiser, June 1997

Diana was the patron of HALO Trust, an organisation that removes debris—particularly landmines—left behind by war.[188][189] In January 1997, pictures of Diana touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were seen worldwide.[188][189] During her campaign, she was accused of meddling in politics and called a 'loose cannon' by the Earl Howe, an official in the British Ministry of Defence.[190] Despite the criticism, HALO states that Diana's efforts resulted in raising international awareness about landmines and the subsequent sufferings caused by them.[188][189] In June 1997, she gave a speech at a landmines conference held at the Royal Geographical Society, and travelled to Washington, D.C. to help promote the American Red Cross landmines campaign.[21] From 7 to 10 August 1997, just days before her death, she visited Bosnia and Herzegovina with Jerry White and Ken Rutherford of the Landmine Survivors Network.[21][191][192][193]

Her work on the landmines issue has been described as influential in the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines.[194] 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.[195]

A few months after Diana's death in 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines won the Nobel Peace Prize.[196]


For her first solo official trip, Diana visited The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, a cancer treatment hospital in London.[157] She later chose this charity to be among the organisations that benefited from the auction of her clothes in New York.[157] The trust's communications manager said, "The Princess had done much to remove the stigma and taboo associated with diseases such as cancer, AIDS, HIV and leprosy."[157] Diana became president of the hospital on 27 June 1989.[197][198][199] The Wolfson Children's Cancer Unit was opened by Diana on 25 February 1993.[197] In February 1996, the Princess who had been informed about a newly opened cancer hospital built by Imran Khan, travelled to Pakistan to visit its children's cancer wards and attend a fundraising dinner in aid of the charity in Lahore.[200] She later visited the hospital again in May 1997.[201] In June 1996, she travelled to Chicago in her capacity as president of the Royal Marsden Hospital in order to attend a fundraising event and raised more than £1 million for cancer research.[128] In September 1996, after being asked by Katharine Graham, the Princess went to Washington and appeared at a White House breakfast in respect of the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research.[202] She also attended an annual fund-raiser for breast cancer research organised by The Washington Post at the same centre.[18][203]

In 1988, the Princess of Wales opened Children with Leukaemia (later renamed Children with Cancer UK) in memory of two young cancer victims.[204][205][206] In November 1987, a few days after the death of Jean O'Gorman from cancer, Diana met her family.[204][205] The deaths of Jean and her brother affected the Princess, and she assisted their family to establish the charity.[204][205][206] It was opened by her on 12 January 1988 at Mill Hill Secondary School, and she supported it until her death in 1997.[204][206]

Other areas

In November 1989, the Princess visited a leprosy hospital in Indonesia.[207][170] Following her visit, she became patron of the Leprosy Mission, an organisation dedicated to providing medicine, treatment, and other support services to those who are afflicted with the disease. She remained the patron of this charity[166] and visited several of its hospitals around the world, especially in India, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Nigeria until her death in 1997.[128][208] She famously touched those affected by the disease when many people believed it could be contracted through casual contact.[128][207] "It has always been my concern to touch people with leprosy, trying to show in a simple action that they are not reviled, nor are we repulsed," she commented.[208] The Diana Princess of Wales Health Education and Media Centre in Noida, India, was opened in her honour in November 1999, funded by the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to give social support to the people affected by leprosy and disability.[208]

Diana was a long-standing and active supporter of Centrepoint, a charity which provides accommodation and support to homeless people, and became patron in 1992.[209][210] She supported organisations that battle poverty and homelessness. The Princess was a supporter of young homeless people and spoke out on behalf of them by saying that "they deserve a decent start in life".[211] "We, as a part of society, must ensure that young people – who are our future – are given the chance they deserve," she said.[211] Diana used to take young William and Harry for private visits to Centrepoint services and homeless shelters.[18][209][212] "The young people at Centrepoint were always really touched by her visits and by her genuine feelings for them," said one of the charity's staff members.[213] Prince William later became the patron of this charity.[209]

Diana visiting the drug squad of the West Midlands Police in 1987

Diana was a staunch and longtime supporter of charities and organisations that focused on social and mental issues, including Relate and Turning Point.[128] Relate was relaunched in 1987 as a renewed version to its predecessor, the National Marriage Guidance Council. Diana became its patron in 1989.[128] Turning Point, a health and social care organisation, was founded in 1964 to help and support those affected by drug and alcohol misuse and mental health problems. She became the charity's patron in 1987 and visited the charity on a regular basis, meeting the sufferers at its centres or institutions including Rampton and Broadmoor.[128] In 1990 during a speech for Turning Point she said, "It takes professionalism to convince a doubting public that it should accept back into its midst many of those diagnosed as psychotics, neurotics and other sufferers who Victorian communities decided should be kept out of sight in the safety of mental institutions."[128] Despite the protocol problems of travelling to a Muslim country, she made a trip to Pakistan later that year in order to visit a rehabilitation centre in Lahore as a sign of "her commitment to working against drug abuse".[128]

Privacy and the media

In 1993, Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) published photographs of the Princess that were taken by gym owner Bryce Taylor. The photos showed her exercising in the gym LA Fitness wearing "a leotard and cycling shorts".[214][215] The Princess's lawyers immediately filed a criminal complaint that sought "a permanent ban on the sale and publication of the photographs" around the world.[214][215] However, some newspapers outside the UK published the pictures.[214] The courts granted an injunction against Taylor and MGN that prohibited "further publication of the pictures".[214] MGN later issued an apology after facing much criticism from the public.[214] It is said that MGN gave the Princess £1 million as a payment for her legal costs and donated £200,000 to her charities.[214] Taylor apologised as well and paid Diana £300,000, although it was alleged that a member of the royal family had helped him financially.[214]

Personal life after divorce

Diana meeting with Sri Chinmoy at Kensington Palace in May 1997

After her 1996 divorce, Diana retained the double apartment on the north side of Kensington Palace that she had shared with the Prince of Wales since the first year of their marriage; the apartment remained her home until her death the following year. She also moved her offices to Kensington Palace but was permitted "to use the state apartments at St James's Palace".[104][216] Furthermore, she continued to have access to the jewellery that she had received during her marriage, and was allowed to use the air transport of the British royal family and government.[104] In a book published in 2003, Paul Burrell claimed that the Princess's private letters had revealed that her brother, Lord Spencer, had refused to allow her to live at Althorp, despite her request.[106]

Diana dated the British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, who was called "the love of her life" by many of her closest friends after her death,[217][218][219] and she is said to have described him as "Mr Wonderful".[220][221][222][223] In May 1996, Diana visited Lahore upon invitation of Imran Khan, a relative of Hasnat Khan, and visited the latter's family in secret.[224][225] Khan was intensely private and the relationship was conducted in secrecy, with Diana lying to members of the press who questioned her about it. Their relationship lasted almost two years with differing accounts of who ended it.[225][226] She is said to have spoken of her distress when "he" ended their relationship.[217] However, according to Khan's testimonial at the inquest for her death, it was Diana who ended their relationship in the summer of 1997.[227] Burrell also said that the relationship was ended by the Princess in July 1997.[228] Burrell also claimed that Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, disapproved of her daughter's relationship with a Muslim man.[229]

Within a month, Diana began a relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of her summer host, Mohamed Al-Fayed.[230] That summer, Diana had considered taking her sons 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 the Jonikal, a 60-metre multimillion-pound yacht on which to entertain Diana and her sons.[230][231][232]


East entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel[233]

On 31 August 1997, Diana died in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris while the driver was fleeing the paparazzi.[234] The crash also resulted in the deaths of her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul, who was the acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash. The televised funeral, on 6 September, was watched by a British television audience that peaked at 32.10 million, which was one of the United Kingdom's highest viewing figures ever. Millions more watched the event around the world.[235][236]

Tribute, funeral, and burial

Flowers outside Kensington Palace

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.[237][238][239] People left public offerings of flowers, candles, cards, and personal messages outside Kensington Palace for many months. Her coffin, draped with the royal flag, was brought to London from Paris by Prince Charles and Diana's two sisters on 31 August 1997.[240][241] The coffin was taken to a private mortuary and then placed in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.[240]

Diana's coffin, draped in the royal standard with an ermine border, borne through the streets of London on its way to Westminster Abbey

On 5 September, Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to her in a live television broadcast.[21] Diana's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 6 September. Her sons walked in the funeral procession behind her coffin, along with her ex-husband the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, Diana's brother Lord Spencer, and representatives of some of her charities.[21] 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."[242] Re-written in tribute to Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997" was performed by Elton John at the funeral service (the only occasion the song has been performed live).[243] Released as a single in 1997, the global proceeds from the song have gone to Diana's charities.[243][244][245]

The burial took place privately later the same day. Diana's former husband, sons, mother, siblings, a close friend, and a clergyman were present. Diana's body was clothed in a black long-sleeved dress designed by Catherine Walker, which she had chosen some weeks before. A set of rosary beads that she had received from Mother Teresa was placed in her hands. Mother Teresa had died the same week as Diana. Diana's grave is on an island (52°16′59″N 1°00′01″W / 52.283082°N 1.000278°W / 52.283082; -1.000278) within the grounds of Althorp Park, the Spencer family home for centuries.[246]

The burial party was provided by the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, who were given the honour of carrying the Princess across to the island and laying her to rest. Diana was the Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief from 1992 to 1996.[247] The original plan was for Diana to be buried in the Spencer family vault at the local church in nearby Great Brington, but Lord Spencer said that he was concerned about public safety and security and the onslaught of visitors that might overwhelm Great Brington. He decided that Diana would be buried where her grave could be easily cared for and visited in privacy by William, Harry, and other Spencer relatives.[248]

Conspiracy theories, inquest and verdict

The initial French judicial investigation concluded that the crash was caused by Paul's intoxication, reckless driving, speeding (65 mph), and effects of prescription drugs.[249] In February 1998, Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Paris Ritz where Paul had worked, publicly stated that the crash had been planned[250] and accused MI6 and the Duke of Edinburgh.[251] An inquest that started in London in 2004 and continued in 2007–08[252] attributed the crash to grossly negligent driving by Paul and to the pursuing paparazzi, who forced Paul to speed into the tunnel.[253] On 7 April 2008, the jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing". On the day after the final verdict of the inquest, Al-Fayed announced that he would end his 10-year campaign to establish that the tragedy was murder rather than an accident; he stated that he did so for the sake of the Princess's children.[254]

Later events


Following her death, Diana left a £21 million estate, "netting £17 million after estate taxes", which were left in the hands of trustees, her mother, and her sister, Lady Sarah.[255][256] The will was signed in June 1993, but Diana had it modified in February 1996 to remove the name of her personal secretary from the list of trustees and have her sister Sarah replace him.[257] Her two sons subsequently inherited the majority of her estate. Each of them received £10 million upon turning 30 years old in 2012 and 2014 respectively.[258] Many of Diana's possessions were initially left in the care of her brother who put them on show in Althorp twice a year until they were returned to the princes.[258][255] They were also put on display in American museums and as of 2011 raised two million dollars for charities.[255] Among the objects were her dresses and suits along with numerous family paintings, jewels and two diamond tiaras.[258] Diana's engagement ring was given to William, who later passed it to his wife, Catherine Middleton, while her wedding dress was given to Harry.[258][259]

In addition to her will,[256] Diana had also written a letter of wishes in which she had asked for three-fourths of her personal property to be given to her sons, and dividing the remaining one-fourth (aside from the jewelry) between her 17 godchildren.[255] Despite Diana's wishes, the executors (her mother and sister) "petitioned the probate court for a "variance" of the will", and the letter of wishes was ignored "because it did not contain certain language required by British law".[255] Eventually, one item from Diana's estate was given to each of her godchildren, while they would have received £100,000 each, had one-fourth of her estate been divided between them.[255] The variance also prevented the estate from being distributed between her sons at the age of 25 but postponed it until they were 30.[255][256] Diana also left her butler Paul Burrell around $80,000 in cash.[256][259]

Subject of government surveillance

In 1999 after the submission of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Internet news service, it was revealed that Diana had been placed under surveillance by the National Security Agency until her death, and the organisation kept a top secret file on her containing more than 1,000 pages.[260][261] The contents of Diana's NSA file cannot be disclosed because of national security concerns.[260] The NSA officials insisted that Diana was not a "target of [their] massive, worldwide electronic eavesdropping infrastructure."[260] Despite multiple inquiries for the files to be declassified—with one of the notable ones being filed by Mohamed Al-Fayed—the NSA has refused to release the documents.[261]

In 2008, Ken Wharfe, a former bodyguard of the Princess, claimed that her scandalous conversations with James Gilbey (commonly referred to as the Squidgygate) were in fact recorded by the GCHQ, which intentionally released them on a "loop".[262] People close to the Princess believed that the action was intended to defame her.[262] Wharfe said that Diana herself believed that members of the royal family were all being monitored, though he also stated that the main reason of it could be due to the potential threats of the IRA.[262]

The Memorial Fund controversy

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was established after her death and was granted intellectual property rights over her image.[263] In 1998, the fund sued the Franklin Mint, accusing it of illegally selling Diana dolls, plates, and jewellery after having been refused a license to do so.[264][265] 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, was required to pay the Franklin Mint's legal costs of £3 million which, combined with other fees, caused the Memorial Fund to freeze its grants to charities.[264][265] In 2003, the Franklin Mint counter-sued. In November 2004, the case was settled out of court with the Memorial Fund agreeing to pay £13.5 million (US$21.5 million) to charitable causes on which both sides agreed.[266] In addition to this, the 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.[263]

Anniversaries, commemorations, and auctions

On the first anniversary of Diana's death, people left flowers and bouquets outside the gates of Kensington Palace and a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey.[267][268] The royal family and the Prime Minister and his family went to Crathie Kirk for private prayers, while Diana's family held a private memorial service at Althorp.[269][270] All flags at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences were flown at half-mast on the Queen's orders.[271] The Union Jack was first lowered to half-mast on the day of Diana's funeral and has set a precedent, as based on the previous protocol no flag could ever fly at half-mast over the palace "even on the death of a monarch".[271] Since 1997, however, the flag has flown at half-mast upon the deaths of members of the royal family, and other times of national mourning.[272]

The Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium was held on 1 July 2007. 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.[273][274] The proceeds that were earned from this event were donated to Diana's charities.[275] On 31 August 2007, a memorial service for Diana took place in the Guards Chapel.[276] Guests included members of the royal family and their relatives, members of the Spencer family, members of Diana's wedding party, Diana's close friends and aides, representatives from many of her charities, British politicians Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and John Major, and friends from the entertainment world such as David Frost, Elton John, and Cliff Richard.[150]

In January 2013, a previously unseen photograph of Diana taken during her engagement to Charles was put up for auction. The picture belonged to the Daily Mirror newspaper and has "Not to be published" written on it. In it, a young Diana lies across the lap of an unidentified man.[277]

John Travolta and the Princess of Wales dancing at the White House, November 1985

On 19 March 2013, ten of Diana's dresses, including a midnight blue velvet gown she wore to a 1985 state dinner at the White House when she famously danced with John Travolta (which became known as the Travolta dress), raised over £800,000 at auction in London.[278]

In January 2017, a series of letters that Diana and other members of the royal family had written to a Buckingham Palace steward were sold as a part of a collection titled "the private letters between a trusted butler and the royal family".[279][280] The six letters that were written by Diana included information about her young sons' daily life and raised £15,100.[279][280]

"Diana: Her Fashion Story", an exhibition of gowns and suits worn by the Princess, was announced to be opened at Kensington Palace in February 2017 as a tribute to mark her 20th death anniversary, with her favorite dresses created by numerous fashion designers, including Catherine Walker and Victor Edelstein, being displayed.[281][282] The exhibition opened on 24 February displaying a collection of 25 dresses, and is set to remain open until 2018.[283][284]

Other tributes planned for the anniversary included exhibitions at Althorp hosted by the Princess's brother, Earl Spencer,[285] a series of commemorating events organised by the Diana Memorial Award,[286] as well as restyling Kensington Gardens and creating a new section called "The White Garden" in order to symbolise Diana's life and style.[281][282][287]


Public image

Diana remains one of the most popular members of the royal family throughout history, and she continues to influence the principles of the royal family and its younger generations.[288][289] She was a major presence on the world stage from her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in 1997, and was often described as the "world's most photographed woman".[18][290] She was noted for her compassion,[291] style, charisma, and high-profile charity work, as well as her ill-fated marriage to the Prince of Wales.[292] Her former private secretary described her as an organised and hardworking person, and pointed out that the Princess's husband was not able to "reconcile with his wife's extraordinary popularity",[293] a viewpoint supported by biographer Tina Brown.[294] He also said that she was a tough boss who was "equally quick to appreciate hard work", but could also be defiant "if she felt she had been the victim of injustice".[293] Paul Burrell, who worked as a butler for the Princess, remembered her as a "deep thinker" capable of "introspective analysis".[295] She was often described as a devoted mother to her children,[18][296] who are influenced by her personality and way of life. In the early years, Diana was often noted for her shy nature,[288][297] as well as her shrewdness, funny character, and smartness.[289] Those who communicated with her closely describe her as a person who was led by her heart.[18] The Princess was also said to have a strong character, because she entered the royal family as an inexperienced girl with little education, but could handle their expectations, and overcome the difficulties and sufferings of her marital life.[146]

Diana was widely known for her encounters with sick and dying patients, and the poor and unwanted whom she used to comfort, an action that earned her more popularity.[298] She was mindful of people's thoughts and feelings, and later revealed her wish to become a beloved figure among the people, saying in her 1995 interview, that "[She would] like to be a queen of people's hearts, in people's hearts."[297] According to Tina Brown, she could charm people with a single glance.[294] Brown also points out that Diana's fame had spread around the world, even affecting Tony Blair who reportedly said that Diana had shown the nation "a new way to be British".[295] Diana is often credited with widening the range of charity works carried out by the royal family in a more modern style,[146] as well as affecting some of the household's traditional manners.[299] Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post wrote in an article that "Diana imbued her role as royal princess with vitality, activism and, above all, glamour."[18] Alicia Carroll of The New York Times described Diana as "a breath of fresh air" who was the main reason the royal family was known in the United States.[300] Despite all the marital issues and scandals, Diana continued to enjoy a high level of popularity in the polls while her husband was suffering from low levels of public approval.[18] Her peak popularity rate in the United Kingdom between 1981 and 2012 was 47%.[301]

Diana had become what Prime Minister Tony Blair called the "People's Princess", an iconic national figure. Her accidental death brought an unprecedented spasm of grief and mourning,[302] and subsequently a crisis arose in the Royal Household.[303][304][305] Andrew Marr said that by her death she "revived the culture of public sentiment".[146] Her brother, the Earl Spencer, captured her role:

Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.[306]

In 1997, the Princess was one of the runners-up for Time magazine's person of the Year.[307] In 1999, Time magazine named Diana one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.[308] In 2002, Diana ranked third on the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, above the Queen and other British monarchs.[309] In 2006, the Japanese public ranked Diana twelfth in The Top 100 Historical Persons in Japan.[310] In 2018, Diana ranked fifteenth on the BBC History's poll of 100 Women Who Changed the World.[311][312]

Despite being regarded as an iconic figure and a popular member of the royal family, Diana was subject to criticism during her life. Patrick Jephson, her private secretary of eight years, wrote in an article in The Daily Telegraph that "[Diana] had an extra quality that frustrated her critics during her lifetime and has done little to soften their disdain since her death ... the human face of a remote institution".[288] Some have said that it was Diana who let the journalists and paparazzi into her life as she knew that they were the source of her power,[295] thus she had "overburdened herself with public duties" and destroyed the border between private and public life.[146][99][313] Diana was famously criticised by philosophy professor Anthony O'Hear who, in his notes argued that she was unable to fulfill her duties, her reckless behaviour was damaging the monarchy, and she was "self-indulgent" in her philanthropic efforts.[213] Following his remarks, charity organisations that were supported by her defended the Princess, and Peter Luff called O'Hear's comments "distasteful and inappropriate".[213] Further criticism surfaced as she was accused of using her public profile to benefit herself,[99] which in turn "demeaned her royal office".[288] Diana's unique type of charity work, which sometimes included physical contact with people affected by serious diseases sometimes had a negative reaction in the media.[288]

Sally Bedell Smith characterised Diana as unpredictable, egocentric, and possessive.[99] Smith also argued that in her desire to do charity works she was "motivated by personal considerations, rather than by an ambitious urge to take on a societal problem".[99] Robinson, however, said that "[Diana] was serious about the causes she espoused".[18] According to Sarah Bradford, Diana looked down on the House of Windsor whom she reportedly viewed "as jumped-up foreign princelings" and called them "the Germans".[295] She believed that Diana was a "victim of her own poor judgment" as she lost social privilege by doing the Panorama interview.[295] Some observers characterised her as a manipulative person.[303][289] It was also alleged by some people that the Princess and her former father-in-law, Prince Philip, had a relationship filled with tension;[228][314] however, other observers said that their letters provided no sign of friction between them.[315] Author Anne Applebaum believed that Diana has not had any impact on public opinions posthumously;[146] an idea supported by Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian who also noted in his article that Diana's memory and influence started to fade away in the years after her death,[299] while Peter Conrad, another Guardian contributor, argued that even in "a decade after her death, she is still not silent,"[295] and Allan Massie of The Telegraph described the Princess as "the celebrity of celebrities" whose sentiments "continue to shape our society".[313]

Style icon

The Princess of Wales at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The strapless Catherine Walker dress,[316] which was inspired by a dress worn by Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief,[317] is considered to be among the most iconic dresses worn at the festival throughout its history.[318][319][320] It was later sold to Julien's Auctions for over £80,000.[321]

Diana was a fashion icon whose style was emulated by women around the world. Iain Hollingshead of The Telegraph wrote: "[Diana] had an ability to sell clothes just by looking at them."[322][323] An early example of the effect occurred during her courtship with Charles in 1980 when sales of Hunter Wellington boots skyrocketed after she was pictured wearing a pair on the Balmoral estate.[322][324] According to designers and people who worked with Diana, she used fashion and style to endorse her charitable causes, express herself and communicate.[325][326][327] The Princess continued to remain a prominent figure for her fashion style,[328][329] and is still considered an inspiration for stylists,[330] celebrities,[331][281] and young women,[332] famously including the singer Rihanna who is influenced by her and during an interview by Glamour in 2013 said: "[Diana] killed it. Every look was right. She was gangsta with her clothes. She had these crazy hats. She got oversize jackets. I loved everything she wore!"[333][334] In the words of one of her favourite milliners, John Boyd, "Diana was our best ambassador for hats, and the entire millinery industry owes her a debt." Boyd's pink tricorn hat Diana wore for her honeymoon was later copied by milliners across the world and credited with rebooting an industry in decline for decades.[335][336]

The Princess chose her dressing style based on both the royal family's demands and popular modern styles in Britain,[337] and developed her personal fashion trend.[338] While on diplomatic trips, her clothes and attire were chosen to match the destination countries' costumes, and while off-duty she used to wear loose jackets and jumpers.[331][339] "She was always very thoughtful about how her clothes would be interpreted, it was something that really mattered to her," according to Anna Harvey, a former Vogue editor and the Princess's fashion mentor.[331][340] David Sassoon, one of the designers who worked with Diana, believed that she had "broken the rules" trying new styles.[317] Diana chose not to practice some of the royal clothing traditions such as putting aside the tradition of wearing gloves as she believed it would prevent a direct connection with the people she met, such as those affected by serious diseases like AIDS patients.[327][339] She used to wear certain types of clothes at charity events which were appropriate for the people she would meet, such as wearing colourful dresses and "jangling jewels" so she could easily play with children at hospitals.[327][339] According to Donatella Versace who worked closely with the Princess alongside her brother, Diana's interest and sense of curiosity about fashion grew significantly after her separation from Charles.[325] Versace also points out that "[she doesn't] think that anyone, before or after her, has done for fashion what Diana did".[325]

Catherine Walker was among Diana's favorite designers[338] with whom she worked to create her "royal uniform".[317] For her foreign tours and state visits, Walker and her husband used to do research and were determined to design clothes that would not outshine the Princess,[325] a viewpoint supported by Taki Theodoracopulos who believes that Diana did not want "to let her clothes wear her".[325] Eleri Lynn, curator of the exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story, also believes that "[Diana] didn't want to be known as a clothes horse,"[327] and mentions that "the style [Catherine and Diana] created together was a very slender, fluid silhouette which did away with the frills and ruffles of the early '80s and created a sleek silhouette that really flattered the princess's frame and became a timeless look for her. A royal uniform if you like."[341]

Diana made her debut as a Sloane Ranger in 1979 with a gown by Regamus.[338] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Princess wore outfits and ensembles by numerous notable fashion designers.[342][343][344] She also wore ensembles by fashion companies such as Versace, Armani, Chanel, Dior and Clarks.[331][333][345] Among her iconic outfits are a décolleté by David and Elizabeth Emanuel worn by a newly engaged Diana at a charity event,[340] a cocktail dress by Christina Stambolian, commonly known as the "Revenge Dress", which she wore after Charles's admission of adultery,[346] an evening gown by Victor Edelstein that she wore to a reception at the White House and later became known as the "Travolta dress",[331][317][338] and a Catherine Walker pearl-encrusted gown and jacket dubbed the "Elvis Dress",[345][338] which she wore for the first time on an official visit to Hong Kong.[327][347]

In early 1980s, Diana preferred to wear dresses with floral collars, pie-crust blouses, and pearls.[331][338][328] These items rapidly became fashion trends.[331] Copies of her Vogue-featured pink chiffon blouse by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, which appeared on the magazine's cover on her engagement announcement day, sold in the millions.[338] Her habit of wearing wide-shouldered gowns and lavish fabrics earned her the nickname "Dynasty Di".[317][327] In the years after her marriage and then her divorce, Diana grew more confident in her choices,[317][329][340] and her style underwent a change, with her new choices consisting of blazers, one-shoulder and off-shoulder dresses, two-tone themed suits, military-styled suits, and nude-colored outfits.[329] White shirt and jeans, plaid dresses, jumpsuits and sheath dresses were among the other fashion trends that she tried.[329][348] Her way of dressing began to be influenced by other celebrities including Cindy Crawford, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as many others.[338]

The Princess's influential short hairstyle was created by Sam McKnight after a Vogue shoot in 1990, which, in McKnight and Donatella Versace's opinion, brought her more liberty as "it always looked great".[325] The Princess reportedly did her own make up and would always have a hairstylist by her side before an event. She told McKnight: "It's not for me, Sam. It is for the people I visit or who come to see me. They don't want me in off-duty mode, they want a princess. Let's give them what they want."[325]

The Princess was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1989.[349] In 2004, People cited her as one of the all-time most beautiful women.[350] In 2012, Time included Diana on its All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons list.[351]

In 2016, fashion designer Sharmadean Reid designed a collection of clothes for inspired by Diana's style.[332] "Di's incredible relationship with accessible sportswear through to luxury fashion forms the cornerstone of the collection and feels more modern than ever," Reid said about the Princess in a press release.[328]

Following the opening of an exhibition of Diana's clothes and dresses at Kensington Palace in 2017, Catherine Bennett of The Guardian stated that such exhibitions are among the suitable ways to commemorate public figures whose fashion styles were noted due to their achievements. The exhibition suggests to detractors that, like many other princesses, "looking lovely in different clothes was pretty much her life's work" which also brings interest in her clothing.[352]

Diana was an inspiration for Off-White's Spring 2018 show at Paris Fashion Week in 2017.[353] The designer Virgil Abloh used the Princess' signature looks as fragments to design new suits and attire.[354][355] Supermodel Naomi Campbell, dressed in a combination of white blazer and cropped spandex leggings in reference to Diana's formal and off-duty styles, closed off the show.[353][354]


Round Oval lake at Althorp with the Diana memorial beyond
Memorial in Harrods Department Store to Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed
Rosa 'Diana, Princess of Wales'
Tribute to Diana on 1998 Azerbaijan postage stamps
Unveiling of a memorial to Diana in Örményes, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, Hungary

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. Permanent memorials include:

The Flame of Liberty was erected in 1989 on the Place de l'Alma in Paris above the entrance to the tunnel in which the fatal crash later occurred. It has become an unofficial memorial to Diana.[358][359] In addition, there are two memorials inside Harrods department store, commissioned by Dodi Fayed's father, who owned the store from 1985 to 2010. The first memorial is a pyramid-shaped display containing photos of the princess and al-Fayed's son, a wine glass said to be from their last dinner, and a ring purchased by Dodi the day prior to the crash. The second, Innocent Victims, unveiled in 2005, is a bronze statue of Fayed dancing with Diana on a beach beneath the wings of an albatross.[360] In January 2018, it was announced that the statue would be returned to the Al-Fayed family.[361]

Rosa 'Princess of Wales', a white blend rose cultivar, is named in honour of Diana.[362][363] She received it as a tribute for her 10-year cooperation with the British Lung Foundation.[362] It was bred by Harkness in the United Kingdom and introduced in 1997.[362][363] The nostalgic floribunda is also known as 'Hardinkum'.[364][363][362] It has a double bloom form, and a mild to strong fragrance.[362] The rose is said to be one of Diana's favourites.[363] After her death, the proceeds from selling the roses in 1998–99 were donated to the British Lung Foundation.[362] In 2002, it was granted the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.[365] Rosa 'Diana, Princess of Wales', a pink blend garden rose, was first introduced in 1998 at the British Embassy in the United States.[366] The classical hybrid tea rose was bred by Keith W. Zary of Jackson & Perkins and is also known under the names 'Elegant Lady' and 'Jacshaq'.[367][368][366] It has a classic bloom form with ivory petals, and a mild, sweet fragrance.[367][366] "15% of the retail price" for buying each of the roses was donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.[366] It was also not sold in the United Kingdom in order to prevent from creating a competition with Rosa 'Princess of Wales'.[366]

In 1998, Azermarka issued postage stamps commemorating Diana in Azerbaijan. The English text on souvenir sheets issued reads "DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES The Princess that captured people's hearts (1961–1997)".[369] Several other countries issued commemorative stamps that year, including Great Britain, Somalia, and Congo.[370] HayPost also issued a postage stamp commemorating Diana in Armenia at the same year.[371]

In November 2002, a £4,000 bronze plaque was unveiled by Earl Spencer at Northampton Guildhall as a memorial to his sister.[372] In February 2013, OCAD University in Toronto announced that its new 25,000 square foot arts centre would be named the Princess of Wales Visual Arts Centre.[373] Princess Diana Drive was named in her memory in Trenton, New Jersey.[374] Diana's granddaughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana (born 2015),[375][376] and her niece, Charlotte Diana (born 2012),[377] are named after her.

In January 2017, Diana's sons commissioned a statue of their mother for Kensington Palace to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death.[285] In an official statement released by Kensington Palace, William and Harry said "Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on her life and her legacy."[285] The money will be raised through public donations, and a small committee consisting of close friends and advisers, including Diana's sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale, are said to be working on the project.[378] In December 2017, it was announced that Ian Rank-Broadley had been commissioned to execute the statue. Its completion is expected in 2019.[379][380]

Diana in contemporary art

Before and after her death, Diana has been depicted in contemporary art. The first biopics about Diana and Charles were Charles and Diana: A Royal Love Story and The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana that were broadcast on American TV channels on 17 and 20 September 1981, respectively.[381] In December 1992, ABC aired Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After, a TV movie about marital discord between Diana and Charles.[382] In the 1990s, British magazine Private Eye called her "Cheryl" and Prince Charles "Brian".[383]

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)[384] 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."[385]

In 2005, Martín Sastre premiered during the Venice Biennale 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 cantegril on the outskirts of Montevideo. Shot at an Uruguayan slum using a Diana impersonator from São Paulo, the film was selected by the Italian Art Critics Association as one of the Venice Biennial's best works.[386][387][388][389]

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.[390][391] Vine intended to portray Diana's combined strength and vulnerability as well as her closeness to her two sons.[392] The works, all completed in 2007, included Diana branches, Diana family picnic, Diana veil, Diana crash and Diana pram, which incorporates the quotation "I vow to thee my country".[393][394] Vine asserted her own abiding attraction to "the beauty and the tragedy of Diana's life".[392]

The 2007 docudrama Diana: Last Days of a Princess details the final two months of her life. She is portrayed by Irish actress Genevieve O'Reilly.[395] 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.[396]

In 2017, Prince William and Prince Harry commissioned two documentaries to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. The first of the two, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, was broadcast on ITV and HBO on 24 July 2017.[397][398] This film focuses on Diana's legacy and humanitarian efforts for causes such as AIDS, landmines, homelessness and cancer. The second documentary, Diana, 7 Days, aired on 27 August on BBC and focused on Diana's death and the subsequent outpouring of grief.[399]

Actresses who have portrayed Diana include Serena Scott Thomas (in Diana: Her True Story),[400] Julie Cox (in Princess in Love),[401] Amy Seccombe (in Diana: A Tribute to the People's Princess),[402] Genevieve O'Reilly (in Diana: Last Days of a Princess),[403][395] Nathalie Brocker (in The Murder of Princess Diana),[404] and Naomi Watts (in Diana).[405]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

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 one she never held.[a] She is still sometimes referred to in the media as "Lady Diana Spencer" or simply as "Lady Di". In a speech after her death, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair referred to Diana as the People's Princess.[406]


Foreign honours

Honorary military appointments

The Princess of Wales held the following military appointments:

Australia Australia
Canada Canada
United Kingdom United Kingdom

She gave up these appointments following her divorce.[21][104]



Name Birth Marriage Issue
Date Spouse
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge 21 June 1982 29 April 2011 Catherine Middleton Prince George of Cambridge
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Prince Louis of Cambridge
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex 15 September 1984 19 May 2018 Meghan Markle Archie Mountbatten-Windsor


Diana was born into the British Spencer family, different branches of which hold the titles of Duke of Marlborough, Earl Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, and Baron Churchill of Whichwood.[414][415] The Spencers claimed descent from a cadet branch of the powerful medieval Despenser family, but its validity is questioned.[416] Her great-grandmother was Margaret Baring, a member of the German-British Baring family of bankers and the daughter of Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke.[417][418] Diana's distant noble ancestors included the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.[419] Diana and Charles were distantly related, as they were both descended from the House of Tudor through Henry VII of England.[420] She was also descended from the House of Stuart through Charles II of England by Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, and Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, and his brother James II of England by Henrietta FitzJames.[21][18][421] Other noble ancestors include Margaret Kerdeston, granddaughter of Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk; Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I of England; and Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, a descendant of Edward III of England through his son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.[422][423][424] Diana's Scottish roots came from her maternal grandmother, Lady Fermoy.[422] Among her Scottish ancestors were Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon, and his wife Jane, and Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll.[422]

Diana's American lineage came from her great-grandmother Frances Ellen Work, daughter of wealthy American stockbroker Franklin H. Work from Ohio, who was married to her great-grandfather James Roche, 3rd Baron Fermoy, an Irish peer.[422][425] Diana's fourth great-grandmother in her direct maternal line, Eliza Kewark, was of Indian descent.[426][427][428][429][430]


  1. ^ Often used by the public and media, the style "Princess Diana" is incorrect. With rare exceptions by permission of the Sovereign (such as 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, having lost the prefix "HRH".


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