Dates: July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997
Also Known As: Diana Frances Spencer; Lady Diana Spencer; Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales; Princess Di; Diana, Princess of Wales
Today I feature one of the most photographed and loved women of our time - PRINCESS DIANA.
Historical Importance of Princess Diana:
Diana endeared herself to the public through her warmth and caring. As the wife of Prince Charles, Diana not only gave birth to the future British king, she became a princess of the people. Diana brought attention to worthy causes such as the elimination of AIDS and landmines. Also, through her own experiences, Diana became a role model for those who suffer from depression or bulimia.
Overview of Diana, Princess of Wales:
Diana was born in 1961 as the third daughter of Edward John Spencer and his wife Frances Ruth Burke Roche. Diana grew up in a very privileged family that had a long history of close ties with the royal family. When Diana's paternal grandfather passed away in 1975, Diana's father became the 8th Earl of Spencer and Diana gained the title of "Lady."
In 1969, Diana's parents divorced. Her mother's affair helped the court decide to give custody of the couple's four children to Diana's father. Both of her parents eventually remarried, but the divorce left an emotional scar on Diana.
Diana attended school at West Heath in Kent and then spent a short time at a finishing school in Switzerland. Although she was not an excellent student academically, her determined personality, caring nature, and cheerful outlook helped her through it. After returning from Switzerland, Diana rented an apartment with two friends, worked with children at the Young England Kindergarten, and watched movies and visited restaurants in her free time.
It was about this time that Prince Charles, in his early 30s, was under increasing pressure to choose a wife. Diana's vibrancy, cheerfulness, and good family background caught the attention of Prince Charles and the two began dating in mid-1980. It was a whirlwind romance for on February 24, 1981, Buckingham Palace officially announced the couple's engagement. At the time, Lady Diana and Prince Charles seemed truly in love and the whole world was awed by what seemed like a fairytale romance.
It was the wedding of the decade; nearly 3,500 people attended and approximately 750 million people from around the world watched it on television. To the envy of young women everywhere, Lady Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral.
Less than a year after the wedding, Diana gave birth to William Arthur Philip Louis on June 21, 1982. Two years after William was born, Diana gave birth to Henry ("Harry") Charles Albert David on September 15, 1984.
While Diana quickly gained the love and appreciation of the public, there were definitely problems in her marriage by the time Prince Harry was born.
The stresses of Diana's numerous new roles (including wife, mother, and princess) were overwhelming. These pressures plus the extreme media coverage and post-natal depression, left Diana lonely and depressed.
Although she tried to maintain a positive public persona, at home she was crying out for help. Diana suffered from bulimia, cut herself on her arms and legs, and made several suicide attempts.
In December 1992, a formal separation was announced between Diana and Charles and in 1996, a divorce was agreed to which was finalized on August 28. In the settlement, Diana was given $28 million, plus $600,000 per year but she was to give up the title, "Her Royal Highness."
Diana's hard-won freedom did not last long. On August 31, 1997, Diana was riding in a Mercedes with her boyfriend (Dodi Al Fayed), bodyguard, and chauffer when the car crashed into a pillar of the tunnel under the Pont de l'Alma bridge in Paris while fleeing from paparazzi. Diana, age 36, died on the operating table at the hospital. Her tragic death shocked the world.
Initially, the public blamed the paparazzi for the accident. However, further investigation proved that the primary cause of the accident was that the chauffer had been driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.
Clancy's comment: I will always recall the first photograph I saw of this beautiful woman. And, I also recall her funeral - the biggest event I've ever witnessed on television. Had she lived longer, I have no doubts she would have achieved some great things.
Below I have a brilliant photograph of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana. The very tall Princess is stooping down to shake hands with Mother Teresa. Sadly, the Saint and the Princess have left us, but their legacies live on.
Pax vobiscum, Princess Diana.