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Diana, Princess of Wales

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"Diana Spencer" and "Princess Diana" redirect here. For other people, see Diana Spencer (disambiguation) and Princess Diana (disambiguation).
Princess of Wales; Duchess of Rothesay (more)
Международная Леонардо-премия 18.jpg
The Princess of Wales in 1995
Born (1961-07-01)1 July 1961
Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Died 31 August 1997(1997-08-31) (aged 36)
Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France
Burial 6 September 1997
Althorp, Northamptonshire, England
Spouse Charles, Prince of Wales (m. 1981; div. 1996)[1]
Full name
Diana Frances[a]
Father John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Mother Frances Shand Kydd
Religion Church of England

Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; née Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II.

Diana was born into a family of British nobility with royal ancestry as The Honourable Diana Spencer. She was the fourth child and third daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and the Honourable Frances Roche. 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 Lady Diana Spencer.

Her wedding to the Prince of Wales on 29 July 1981, held at St Paul's Cathedral, reached a global television audience of over 750 million people. While married, Diana bore the titles Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, and Baroness of Renfrew. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William and Harry, 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. She was involved with dozens of charities including London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989.

Diana remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. Media attention and public mourning were extensive after her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997 and subsequent televised funeral.

Early life[edit]

Diana was born on 1 July 1961, in Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk.[2] She was the fourth of five children of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (1924–1992), and his first wife, Frances (née Roche; 1936–2004).[3] The Spencer family has been closely allied with the British Royal Family for several generations.[4] Both of Diana's grandmothers had served as ladies in waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[5] 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 Diana Russell, Duchess of Bedford, her distant relative who was also known as "Lady Diana Spencer" before marriage and was a prospective Princess of Wales.[6] Diana was baptised at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.[6] Diana had 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".[6] 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."[6] 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 Princes Andrew and Edward as a child.[10]

Diana was seven years old when her parents divorced.[11] Her mother later had an affair 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 1972, Lord Althorp began a relationship with Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and Dame Barbara Cartland.[14] They married at Caxton Hall, London in 1976.[15] 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 Northampton.[16]

Education and career[edit]

Diana began her education at Silfield Private School in Gayton, Norfolk, and moved to Riddlesworth Hall School, an all-girls boarding school near Diss, when she was nine.[17] She joined her sisters at West Heath Girls' School in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1973.[18] She did not shine academically, failing her O-levels twice. Her outstanding community spirit was recognised with an award from West Heath.[19] She left West Heath when she was sixteen.[20] Her brother Charles recalls her as being quite shy up until that time.[21] She showed a talent for music as an accomplished pianist.[19] Diana also excelled in swimming and diving, and studied ballet and tap dance.[22]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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,[25] and worked as a nursery teacher's assistant at the Young England School in Pimlico.[26] In July 1979, her mother bought her a flat at Coleherne Court in Earls Court as an 18th birthday present.[27] She lived there with three flatmates until 25 February 1981.[28]

Marriage to the Prince of Wales[edit]

Diana first met Charles, Prince of Wales, in November 1977 when he was dating her sister, Lady Sarah.[29][30] He took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht Britannia. This was followed by an invitation to Balmoral (the Royal Family's Scottish residence) to meet his family a weekend in November 1980.[31][32] Lady Diana was well received by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple subsequently courted in London. The prince proposed on 6 February 1981, and Lady Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.[28]

Engagement and wedding[edit]

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

Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981.[33] Lady Diana selected a large engagement ring consisting of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold, similar to her mother's engagement ring. The ring was made by the then Crown jewellers Garrard but, unusually for a ring for a member of the Royal Family, it was not unique; it was featured in Garrard's jewellery collection. In 2010 the ring became the engagement ring of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[34] It was copied by jewellers all over the world.[35] The Queen Mother gave Lady Diana a sapphire and diamond brooch as an engagement present.[36]

Following the engagement Lady Diana left her job at the nursery and lived at Clarence House, then home of the Queen Mother, for a short period.[37] She then lived at Buckingham Palace until the wedding.[37] Her first public appearance with Prince Charles was in a charity ball in March 1981 at Goldsmiths' Hall, where she met the Princess of Monaco.[37][38]

Twenty-year-old Diana became Princess of Wales when she married the Prince of Wales on 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey, generally used for royal nuptials.[19] Widely described as a "fairytale wedding", it was watched by a global television audience of 750 million while 600,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple en route to the ceremony.[33][39]

At the altar, Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles's first two names, saying "Philip Charles" Arthur George instead.[39] 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.[40] Diana wore a dress valued at £9,000 with a 25-foot (7.62-metre) train.[41] Music and songs used during the wedding included the "Prince of Denmark's March", "I Vow to Thee, My Country", "Pomp and Circumstance No.4", and "God Save the Queen".[42]

After becoming 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, 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 a tiara and granted her the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.[43]


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

The couple made their homes at Kensington Palace and at Highgrove House, near Tetbury. On 5 November 1981, the Princess' first pregnancy was officially announced.[44] After Diana threw herself down a staircase at Sandringham in January 1982, 12 weeks into her first pregnancy, the royal gynaecologist Sir George Pinker was summoned from London. He found that although she had suffered severe bruising, the foetus was uninjured.[45] In the private Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, on 21 June 1982, under the care of Pinker,[45] the Princess gave birth to her and the Prince's first son and heir, William Arthur Philip Louis.[46] Amidst some media criticism, she decided to take William, still a baby, on her first major tours of Australia and New Zealand, but the decision was popularly applauded. By her own admission, the Princess of Wales had not initially intended to take William until it was suggested by Malcolm Fraser, the Australian prime minister.[47]

A second son, Henry Charles Albert David, was born on 15 September 1984.[48] The Princess asserted she and the Prince were closest during her pregnancy with Harry (as the younger prince has always been known). She was aware their second child was a boy, but did not share the knowledge with anyone else, including the Prince of Wales.[49] Persistent suggestions that Harry's father is not Charles but James Hewitt, with whom Diana had an affair, have been based on alleged physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry. However, Harry had already been born by the time the affair between Hewitt and Diana began.[49][50]

Diana gave her sons wider experiences than was usual for royal children.[51][52] 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.[53]

Problems and separation[edit]

Within five years of her marriage, the couple's incompatibility and age difference (almost 13 years),[54] as well as Diana's concern about Charles's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles,[55] became visible and damaging to their marriage. During the early 1990s, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales fell apart, an event at first suppressed, then sensationalised, by the world media. Both the Princess and Prince spoke to the press through friends, each blaming the other for the marriage's demise.

The chronology of the break-up identifies reported difficulties between the Prince and Princess as early as 1985.[56] The Prince of Wales resumed his affair with his now-married former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles; later, the Princess of Wales began a relationship with Major James Hewitt. These affairs were exposed in May 1992 with the publication of Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton. It was serialised in The Sunday Times before its publication.[57] The book, which also laid bare the Princess' allegedly suicidal unhappiness, caused a media storm. During 1992 and 1993, leaked tapes of telephone conversations negatively reflected on both the royal antagonists. Tape recordings of the Princess and James Gilbey were made available by The Sun newspaper's hotline in August 1992.[58] Transcripts of taped intimate conversations were published by The Sun in August 1992. The article's title, "Squidgygate", referenced Gilbey's affectionate nickname for Diana. The next to surface, in November 1992, were the leaked "Camillagate" tapes, intimate exchanges between the Prince of Wales and Camilla, published in Today and the Daily Mirror.[59]

In the meantime, rumours had begun to surface about the Princess of Wales's relationship with Hewitt, her and her children's former riding instructor. These would be brought into the open by the publication in 1994 of a book by Anna Pasternak titled Princess in Love, which was filmed under the same title in a movie directed by David Greene in 1996.[60] The Princess of Wales was portrayed by Julie Cox and James Hewitt was portrayed by Christopher Villiers.[60]

In December 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced the couple's "amicable separation" to the House of Commons,[61] and the full Camillagate transcript was published a month later in the newspapers, in January 1993. On 3 December 1993, the Princess of Wales announced her withdrawal from public life.[62]

The Prince of Wales sought public understanding via a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on 29 June 1994. In this he confirmed his own extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, saying that he had rekindled their association in 1986, only after his marriage to the Princess had "irretrievably broken down".[63][64]

While she blamed Camilla Parker Bowles for her marital troubles because of her previous relationship with the Prince, the Princess at some point began to believe that he had other affairs. In October 1993, she wrote to a friend that she believed her husband was now in love with his personal assistant (and his sons' former nanny) Tiggy Legge-Bourke and wanted to marry her.[65] 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.

Diana's aunt-in-law, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, burnt "highly personal" letters that Diana wrote to the Queen Mother in 1993 because she thought they were considered to be "so private". Biographer William Shawcross wrote: "No doubt Princess Margaret felt that she was protecting her mother and other members of the family". He considered Princess Margaret's action to be "understandable, although regrettable from a historical viewpoint".[66]

Authors Tina Brown, Sally Bedell Smith and Sarah Bradford are some of the many writers who fully supported Diana's own admission in her 1995 BBC Panorama 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 problems to interviewer Martin Bashir, including that she had "hurt (her) arms and legs".[67] The combination of illnesses from which Diana herself said that she suffered resulted in some of her biographers opining that she had Borderline Personality Disorder.[68][69]


Diana (far left) with Muhammad Iqbal Gujjar and Jemima Khan, wife of Imran Khan, in Pakistan in 1996

The Princess of Wales was interviewed for the BBC current affairs show Panorama by journalist Martin Bashir; the interview was broadcast on 20 November 1995.[67] Of her relationship with Hewitt, the Princess said to Bashir, "Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down [by him]." Referring to her husband's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, she said, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Of herself, she said, "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts." On the Prince of Wales' suitability for kingship, she stated, "Because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that."[67]

On 20 December 1995, Buckingham Palace publicly announced the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales advising them to divorce.[70][71] 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.[72] Prince Charles formally agreed to the divorce in a written statement soon after.[70] In February 1996, the Princess announced her agreement after negotiations with the Prince and representatives of the Queen,[73] 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.[74]

This followed shortly after the Princess' accusation that the Prince's personal assistant Tiggy Legge-Bourke had aborted the Prince's child, after which Legge-Bourke instructed Peter Carter-Ruck to demand an apology.[75][76] 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".[77]

The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996.[62] 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.[78][74]

Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. As she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales, Diana lost the style Her Royal Highness and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales.[b] As the mother of the prince expected to one day ascend to the throne, she was accorded the same precedence she enjoyed during her marriage.[80] 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."[81][82] 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."[83]

Buckingham Palace stated the Princess of Wales was still a member of the Royal Family, as she was the mother of the second and third in line to the throne.[80] This was confirmed by the Deputy Coroner of the Queen's Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, after a pre-hearing on 8 January 2007: "I am satisfied that at her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be considered as a member of the Royal Household."[84] This appears to have been confirmed in the High Court judicial review matter of Al Fayed & Ors v Butler-Sloss.[85] In that case, three High Court judges accepted submissions that "the very name 'Coroner to the Queen's Household' gave the appearance of partiality in the context of inquests into the deaths of two people, one of whom was a member of the Royal Family and the other was not."[85]

Public life[edit]

Public appearances[edit]

Charles and Diana visit Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia, March 1983

The Princess of Wales attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time on 4 November 1981.[86] She attended the Trooping the Colour for the first time in June 1982, making her appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards. 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 of the Netherlands.[87] 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.[19]

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.[88]

From left to right, the Prince and Princess of Wales (wearing the Travolta dress), the US First Lady Nancy Reagan, and US President Ronald Reagan in November 1985

In April 1985, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Italy, and were later joined by Princes William and Harry.[19] They met with President Alessandro Pertini. Their visit to the Holy See included a private audience with Pope John Paul II.[89] In November 1985, the couple visited the United States,[19] meeting President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House. 1986 was a busy year for Diana. With the Prince of Wales she embarked on a tour of Japan, Indonesia, Spain, and Canada.[88] In Canada they visited Expo 86.[88]

The Prince and Princess of Wales with Sandro Pertini in 1985

In 1987, they visited Germany and France.[90] In 1988, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Thailand and toured Australia for the bicentenary celebrations.[19][91]

The Prince and Princess of Wales with West German President Richard von Weizsäcker and his wife Marianne in Bonn, 2 November 1987

In March 1990, she and the Prince of Wales toured Nigeria and Cameroon.[92] The President of Cameroon hosted an official dinner to welcome them in Yaoundé.[92] In May 1990, they visited Hungary for four days.[93] They attended a dinner hosted by interim President Árpád Göncz and viewed a fashion display at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest.[93] In November 1990, the royal couple went to Japan to attend the enthronement of Emperor Akihito.[19][94] In 1991, the Princess and Prince of Wales visited Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where they presented the university with a replica of their royal charter.[95] In September 1991, the Princess visited Pakistan on a solo trip, and went to Brazil with Charles.[96] During their tour in Brazil, Diana visited the orphanage and an Aids Treatment Centre for children and met the Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello and First Lady Rosane Collor in Brasília.[97] Her final trips with Charles were to India and South Korea in 1992.[19]

The Princess of Wales at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival

In 1992, the Princess of Wales visited Egypt. She was invited to stay at the British Ambassador's villa. She met with President Hosni Mubarak.[98]

In February 1995, the Princess visited Japan.[94][99] She paid formal visits to Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko,[94] Crown Prince Naruhito, and Crown Princess Masako.[99] She visited a daycare centre for children with learning difficulties, the Yokohama War Cemetery, and the National Children's Hospital, where she gave the opening line of her speech in Japanese.[99] In June 1995, Diana went to Venice to visit the Venice Biennale art festival.[100] In November 1995, the Princess undertook a four-day trip to Argentina and met with President Carlos Menem and his daughter, Zulemita, for lunch.[101][102] The Princess visited many other countries, including Belgium, Nepal, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.[19] Her final official engagement was a visit to Northwick Park Hospital, London, on 21 July 1997.[19]

Charity work and patronage[edit]

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

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."[103] 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[104] and 397 in 1991.[105] The Princess developed an intense interest in serious illnesses and health-related matters outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy.

In addition to health-related matters, Diana's extensive charity work included campaigning for animal protection and her fight against the use of landmines.[106] She was the patroness of charities and organisations working with the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. From 1989, she was president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. From 1991 to 1996, she was a patron of Headway, a brain injury association.[107] She was patron of Natural History Museum[108] and president of Royal Academy of Music.[75][109] 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.[110] In 1988, she became patron of the British Red Cross and supported its organisations in other countries such as Australia and Canada.[111] In 1992, she became the first patron of Chester Childbirth Appeal, a charity that she had supported since 1984.[112] The charity, which is named after one of Diana's royal titles, could raise over £1 million with her help.[112]

Her patronages also included Landmine Survivors Network, Help the Aged, the Trust for Sick Children in Wales, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the British Lung Foundation, the National AIDS Trust, Eureka!, the National Children's Orchestra, Royal Brompton Hospital, British Red Cross Youth, Relate Marriage Counselors, the Guinness Trust, Meningitis Trust, Dove House, the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, the Royal School for the Blind, Welsh National Opera, the Pre-School Playgroups Association, the Variety Club of New Zealand, Birthright, and the British Deaf Association.[109][111][113][114][115][116][117][118] She made several lengthy visits each week to Royal Brompton Hospital, where she worked to comfort seriously ill or dying patients.[113] She visited Mother Teresa's hospice in Kolkata, India, in 1992, and the two women developed a personal relationship.[113]

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

In June 1995, the Princess made a brief trip to Moscow, where she visited a children’s hospital that she had previously supported through her charity work. Diana presented the hospital with medical equipment. During her time in the Russian capital, she was awarded the international Leonardo prize, which is given to the most distinguished patrons and people in the arts, medicine, and sports.[106] In December 1995, Diana received the United Cerebral Palsy Humanitarian of the Year Award in New York City for her philanthropic efforts.[119][120][121] In October 1996, for her works on the elderly, the Princess received a gold medal at a health care conference organised by the Pio Manzù Centre in Rimini, Italy.[122]

The day after her divorce, she announced her resignation from over 100 charities to spend more time with only six: Centrepoint, English National Ballet, Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Leprosy Mission, National AIDS Trust, and the Royal Marsden Hospital.[123] She continued her work with the British Red Cross Anti-Personnel Land Mines Campaign, but was no longer listed as patron.[124]

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.[125] 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.[19]

Areas of work[edit]


In November 1989, the Princess visited a leprosy hospital in Indonesia.[126][127] 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 until her death in 1997,[123] and visited several of its hospitals around the world, especially in India, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.[128][111] She famously touched those affected by the disease when many people believed it could be contracted through casual contact.[111][126] "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.[128] 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.[128]


The Princess began her work with AIDS victims in the 1980s.[127] In 1989, she opened Landmark Aids Centre in South London.[129][130] She was not averse to making physical contact with AIDS patients, though it was still unknown whether the disease could be spread that way.[113][131][132] Diana was the first British royal figure to contact AIDS patients.[127] One of her early efforts to de-stigmatise the condition included holding hands of an AIDS patient in 1987.[133] 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."[111][134][135] To Diana's disappointment, the Queen did not support this type of charity work, suggesting she get involved in "something more pleasant".[127] In October 1990, Diana opened Grandma's House, a home for young AIDS victims in Washington, D.C.[136] She was also a patron of the National AIDS Trust.[111] In 1991, she famously hugged one victim during a visit to the AIDS ward of the Middlesex Hospital.[111] 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.[137]

In March 1997, Diana visited South Africa, where she met with President Nelson Mandela.[138][139] 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.[140] They had planned the combination of the two charities a few months before her death.[140] "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," Mandela said about the late Princess.[141] Diana had used her celebrity status to "fight stigma attached to people living with HIV/AIDS", Mandela said.[140]


Diana chatting with Hillary Clinton, 18 June 1997

Diana was the patron of HALO Trust, an organization that removes debris left behind by war, in particular landmines.[142][143] In January 1997, pictures of Diana touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were seen worldwide.[142][143] During her campaign, she was accused of meddling in politics and called a 'loose cannon'.[144] Despite the criticism, HALO states that Diana's efforts resulted in raising international awareness about landmines and the subsequent sufferings caused by them.[142][143] 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.[19] 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.[19][145][146][147]

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.[148] 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.[149]

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". She urged countries which produce and stockpile the largest numbers of landmines (United States, China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia) to sign the treaty.[150] A few months after Diana's death in 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines won the Nobel Peace Prize.[151]


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.[152][153] She supported organisations that battle poverty and homelessness. She was a supporter of young homeless people and spoke out on behalf of them by saying that "they deserve a decent start in life".[154] "We, as a part of society, must ensure that young people – who are our future – are given the chance they deserve," she said.[154] Diana used to take young William and Harry for private visits to Centrepoint services.[152] Prince William is currently the patron of this charity.[152]


For her first solo official trip, Diana visited The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, a cancer treatment hospital in London.[118] She later chose this charity to be among the organisations that benefited from the auction of her clothes in New York.[118] 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."[118] Diana became president of the hospital on 27 June 1989.[155][156][157] The Wolfson Children's Cancer Unit was opened by Diana on 25 February 1993.[155] 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.[111]

Children with Leukaemia (currently Children with Cancer UK) was opened by the Princess of Wales in memory of two young cancer victims in 1988.[158][159][160] In November 1987, a few days after the death of Jean O'Gorman from cancer, Diana met her family.[158][159] The deaths of Jean and her brother had an impact on the Princess, and she assisted their family to establish the charity.[158][159][160] It was opened by her on 12 January 1988 at Mill Hill Secondary School, and she supported it until her death in 1997.[158][160]

Mental illness and drug abuse[edit]

Diana was a staunch and longtime supporter of charities and organisations that focused on social and mental issues, including Relate and Turning Point.[111] Relate was relaunched in 1987 as a renewed version to its predecessor, the National Marriage Guidance Council. The Princess became its patron in 1989.[111] 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. The Princess 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.[111]

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."[111] 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.[111]

Personal life after divorce[edit]

Diana, Princess of Wales, meeting with Sri Chinmoy in May 1997

After the divorce, Diana retained her double apartment on the north side of Kensington Palace which she had shared with the Prince of Wales since the first year of their marriage, and it remained her home until her death. She continued to use two offices at St James's Palace.[74][161]

Diana dated the British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, who was called "the love of her life" after her death by many of her closest friends.[162] In May 1996, Diana visited Lahore upon invitation of Imran Khan, a relative of Hasnat Khan, and visited the latter's family in secret.[163] 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.[164][165][166] According to Khan's testimonial at the inquest for her death, it was Diana who ended their relationship in a late-night meeting in Hyde Park, which adjoins the grounds of Kensington Palace, in June 1997.

Within a month Diana had begun seeing Dodi Fayed, son of her host that summer, Mohamed Al-Fayed.[1] Diana had considered taking her sons that summer on a holiday to the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, but security officials had prevented it. After deciding against a trip to Thailand, she accepted Fayed's invitation to join his family in the south of France, where his compound and large security detail would not cause concern to the Royal Protection squad. Mohamed Al-Fayed bought the Jonikal, a 60-metre multimillion-pound yacht on which to entertain Diana and her sons.[1][167][168][169]


East entrance to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris[170]

On 31 August 1997, Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris, which also caused the deaths of her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul, acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The funeral saw the British television audience peak at 32.10 million, one of the United Kingdom's highest viewing figures ever, while millions more watched the event around the world.[171][172]

Conspiracy theories, inquest and verdict[edit]

The initial French judicial investigation concluded the accident was caused by Paul's drunken loss of control.[173] In February 1998, Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Paris Ritz where Paul had worked, publicly maintained that the crash had been planned,[174] accusing MI6 and the Duke of Edinburgh.[175] An inquest in London starting in 2004 and continued in 2007–08[176] attributed the accident to grossly negligent driving by Paul and to the pursuing paparazzi.[177] On 7 April 2008, the jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing". The day following the final verdict of the inquest, Al-Fayed announced he would end his 10-year campaign to establish that it was murder rather than an accident, stating that he did so for the sake of the princess's children.[178]

Tribute, funeral, and burial[edit]

Diana's coffin is borne through the streets of London on its way to Westminster Abbey

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.[179] 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.[180][181] After being taken to a private mortuary it was placed in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace.[180]

Diana's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 6 September. The previous day Queen Elizabeth II had paid tribute to her in a live television broadcast.[19] Her sons walked in the funeral procession behind her coffin, along with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, Diana's brother Lord Spencer, and representatives of some of her charities.[19] 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."[182] Re-written in tribute to Diana, "Candle in the Wind" was performed by Elton John at the funeral service (the only occasion the song has been performed live).[183] Released as a single in 1997, the global proceeds from the song have gone to Diana's charities.[183][184]

Aerial view of Althorp. Diana is buried on the small island in the middle of the ornamental Round Oval lake.

The burial occurred 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 was placed in her hands, a gift she had received from Mother Teresa, who died the same week as Diana. Her 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.[185]

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.[186] 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.[187]

Later events[edit]

Following Diana's death, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was granted intellectual property rights over her image.[188] 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.[189][190][191] 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.[189][190][191] 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. 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.[192]

On 13 July 2006, Italian magazine Chi published photographs showing Diana amid the wreckage of the car crash,[193] despite an unofficial blackout on such photographs being published.[194][c] The editor of Chi defended his decision by saying he published the photographs simply because they had not been previously seen, and he felt the images are not disrespectful to the memory of Diana.[194]

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.[195][196] The proceeds that were earned from this event were donated to Diana's charities.[197] On 31 August 2007, a memorial service for Diana took place in the Guards Chapel.[198] 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.[109]

In 2013, a previously unseen photograph of the then already officially engaged Diana 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 has her head in the lap of an unidentified man.[199]

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.[200]


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

From her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in 1997, Diana was a major presence on the world stage, often described as the "world's most photographed woman".[201] She was noted for her compassion,[202] style, charisma, and high-profile charity work, as well as her difficult marriage to the Prince of Wales. Her peak popularity rate in the United Kingdom between 1981 and 2012 was 47%.[203]

She was a fashion icon whose style was emulated by women around the world. Iain Hollingshead of The Telegraph writes: "[Diana] had an ability to sell clothes just by looking at them."[204][205] An early example of the effect occurred during her courtship with Charles in 1980 when sales of Hunters Wellington boots skyrocketed after she was pictured wearing a pair on the Balmoral estate.[204][206]

In 1999, Time magazine named Diana one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.[207] In 2002, Diana was ranked third on the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, outranking the Queen and other British monarchs.[208] In 2004, People cited her as one of the all-time most beautiful women.[209]


Round Oval lake at Althorp with the Diana memorial beyond
Memorial in Harrods Department Store to Diana and Dodi Fayed

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, erected in 1989 on the Place de l'Alma in Paris above the entrance to the tunnel in which the fatal crash occurred, has become an unofficial memorial to Diana.[210][211] 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.[212]

Tribute to Diana on 1998 Azerbaijan postage stamps

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)".[213] Several other countries issued commemorative stamps that year, including Great Britain, Somalia, and Congo.[214] HayPost also issued a postage stamp commemorating Diana in Armenia at the same year.[215]

In February 2013, OCAD University in Toronto, Canada, announced that its new 25,000 square foot arts centre would be named the Princess of Wales Visual Arts Centre.[216] Princess Diana Drive was named in her memory in Trenton, New Jersey.[217] Diana's granddaughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, born in 2015, is named after her.[218][219][220]

Diana in contemporary art[edit]

Diana has been depicted in contemporary art before and after her death. 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.[221] In December 1992, ABC aired Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After, a TV movie about marital discord between Diana and Charles.[222] In the 1990s, British magazine Private Eye called her "Cheryl" and Prince Charles "Brian".[223] Some of the artworks after her death have referenced the conspiracy theories, as well as paying tribute to Diana's compassion and acknowledging her perceived victimhood.

In July 1999, Tracey Emin created a number of monoprint drawings featuring textual references about Diana's public and private life for Temple of Diana, a themed exhibition at The Blue Gallery, London. Works such as They Wanted You To Be Destroyed (1999)[224] 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."[225]

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.[226][227][228][229]

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.[230][231] Vine intended to portray Diana's combined strength and vulnerability as well as her closeness to her two sons.[232] 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".[233][234] Vine asserted her own abiding attraction to "the beauty and the tragedy of Diana's life".[232]

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.[235] 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.[236]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 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
    • in Chester: 29 July 1981 – 28 August 1996: The Countess of Chester[112]
  • 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.[d] 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.[237]


Foreign honours

Honorary military appointments[edit]

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.[19]



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


Diana was born into the British noble Spencer family, different branches of which currently hold the titles of Duke of Marlborough, Earl Spencer, Earls of Sunderland, and Viscount Churchill.[242][243] The Spencers claimed descent from a cadet branch of the powerful medieval Despenser family, but its validity is questioned.[244] 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.[245][246] Diana's distant noble ancestors included John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Prince of Mindelheim and his wife Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.[247] Diana and Charles were distantly related, as they were both descended from the House of Tudor through Henry VII of England.[248] 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.[19][249]

Diana's American roots 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.[250] Diana's fourth great-grandmother in her direct maternal line, Eliza Kewark, whose daughter was fathered by Theodore Forbes, is variously described in contemporary documents as "a dark-skinned native woman", "an Armenian woman from Bombay", and "Mrs. Forbesian".[251][252] Genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner assumed she was Armenian.[253] In June 2013, BritainsDNA announced that genealogical DNA tests on two of Diana's distant cousins in the same direct maternal line confirm that Eliza Kewark was of Indian descent.[254][255][256][257][258]

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ As a titled royal, Diana used no surname. When one was used while she was married, it was Mountbatten-Windsor. According to letters patent dated February 1960, the official family name is Windsor.
  2. ^ Although it was asserted in 1996 that Diana would after the divorce be called "Lady Diana, Princess of Wales",[79] the Royal website in reporting her demise referred to her as "Diana, Princess of Wales".[19]
  3. ^ The photographs, taken minutes after the accident, show her slumped in the back seat while a paramedic attempts to fit an oxygen mask over her face.
  4. ^ 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 The Princess Anne) may use it before their given names. After her divorce in 1996, Diana was officially styled Diana, Princess of Wales, having lost the prefix "HRH".


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  4. ^ Brown 2007, pp. 32–33.
  5. ^ Bradford 2006, p. 2.
  6. ^ a b c d Morton 1997, p. 71.
  7. ^ Brown 2007, pp. 37–38.
  8. ^ Brown 2007, p. 37.
  9. ^ Brown 2007, p. 41.
  10. ^ Bradford 2006, pp. 2, 20.
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  12. ^ Bradford 2006, pp. 40, 42.
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External links[edit]