Anyone who ever had the honor of seeing Princess Diana in action is truly blessed. In life, hardly a day went by that the evening news wasn’t airing a story about her; newspapers and gossip magazines ran articles about the princess daily – good or bad, right or wrong, real or made up – and there was plenty made up about someone who was not only the Princess of Wales, but the world’s princess, the People’s Princess.
Early Life of Diana Spencer:
Diana Frances Spencer was born in Sandringham, Norfolk, England on July 1, 1961. She was the daughter of Edward John Spencer and Frances Ruth Burke Roche. Diana’s parents divorced in 1969 and her father took custody of her and her siblings. When her father became Earl Spencer in 1975, she became Lady Diana Spencer.
Diana attended Riddlesworth Hall before attending boarding school at West Heath School. She then attended finishing school at Institut Alpin Videmanette in Switzerland and went on to teach kindergarten at Young England in London.
Diana and Prince Charles:
Diana played with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward as a child. In 1977, she would become reacquainted with their older brother, Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II.
When Diana and Charles became engaged in 1980, the media and paparazzi swarmed Diana and from that point forward, the photographers were never more than a step behind her in a relentless pursuit that became a sort of cat and mouse game that would last the rest of her short life. It wasn’t uncommon for them to camp out in front of her apartment and follow her wherever she went.
Diana Becomes a Princess:
On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana married in a lavish ceremony held at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was among the 750 million worldwide viewers glued to the television in awe to watch the wedding of the century. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live.
A horse drawn carriage carried Diana to the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. When she stepped out, she was followed by a 25 foot long train as she made her way inside the church to marry her prince. The wedding was like a fairytale.
According to the World of Royalty, Diana became the first English woman to marry an heir to the throne in almost 325 years with the last one being Lady Anne Hyde who married the Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II who was heir presumptive, not the heir apparent Prince Charles is.
But this fairytale marriage would have a very unhappy ending for Diana.
A big problem in the marriage was Camilla Parker-Bowles, then ex-girlfriend and the current wife of Prince Charles. According to BBC, Diana told Martin Bashir in an interview, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Depression soon set in, Princess Diana became bulimic, and she attempted suicide. It was rumored she was having an affair with James Hewitt, her riding instructor. If true, it would have meant high treason on both parts. She was also accused of having an affair with a married man assigned to her security detail. Through it all, she remained a devoted mother to her sons, Princes William and Harry. She also stayed very active in her charity work and was known to be a humanitarian.
On December 9, 1992, British Prime Minister John Major read a statement from the royal family to the House of Commons announcing the separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Their divorce was final in August 1996.
Princess Diana’s Charity Work:
Princess Diana was very passionate about the charity work she was involved in and took a hands-on approach to dealing with important issues. One of her charities had to do with HIV/AIDS.
It wasn’t uncommon for the princess to show up at hospitals to show kindness to dying AIDS patients. She didn’t do it for publicity but strictly for the patients. Imagine being so ill and having the Princess of Wales come in to check on you. Diana was as genuine as one can be and truly cared about the people who had the misfortune of coming down with such a dreadful disease.
Another passion of Diana’s was the landmines campaign. In 1997, she served as an International Red Cross VIP volunteer. She visited Angola hospitals where landmine survivors were receiving treatment. This trip was highly publicized in the media.
No one could ever say Diana was out of touch with the public because she was always knee deep in the trenches so to speak. During her trip to Angola, photos of the princess wearing a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were taken that demonstrate this point.
According to Time Magazine, President Nelson Mandela said of Princess Diana that she was “an ambassador for victims of land mines, war orphans, the sick, and needy throughout the world.”
Princess Diana’s Death:
In 1997, Princess Diana met and fell in love with Dodi al-Fayed, an Egyptian millionaire and film producer.
Late on the night of August 30, 1997, the pair had just left the Ritz Hotel in Paris where they had dinner. They were reportedly pursued by the paparazzi, though some argue there were no paparazzi in pursuit, and they entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel at a high rate of speed. Henri Paul veered the car to the right to pass a car just ahead of them and lost control. The Mercedes crashed into the wall of the tunnel. Henri Paul attempted to correct the car but slammed into one of the reinforced concrete dividing pillars. The car then ricocheted and spun before coming to a rest.
Dodi al-Fayed and Henri Paul was killed instantly, Trevor Reese-Jones suffered severe injuries, and Princess Diana was barely alive. She died a few hours later on August 31, 1997 at Pitie Salpetriere Hospital in Paris from injuries sustained in the crash.
Following Princess Diana’s death, the world joined England in their mourning. Diana was such a bright light in a dark world. She was true, compassionate, and caring. She was beautiful inside and out. Hers was a life snuffed out too soon as she had so much work left to do and is still missed today.
Princess Diana’s legacy lives on in her children. Princes William and Harry have each set up their own charities in a desire to do justice to their mother’s memory, her example being their motivating force.
I have followed Princess Diana news since 1980 and watched her nuptials to Prince Charles in 1981
Diana, Princess of Wales – Princess Diana’s life, World of Royalty
The Panorama Interview, Transcript of the BBC1 interview with the Princess of Wales, broadcast in November 1995
5 Celebrities Killed in Horrific Car Crashes, Page2 of 4 – Associated Content, Kenzy England