Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1st, 1961 to John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd. The Spencers were one of the oldest and most important families of Great Britain. By the time Diana was born, she had already inherited the title "Lady Diana Spencer". The Spencer family was very close to the Royal Family and seen as faithful allies. Diana was known at the Palace as she would often play with the Princes Andrew and Edward while they were growing up.
By the late 1970's, Prince Charles was under much scrutiny by his mother to marry. He was initially linked romantically to Lady Diana's older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. Charles, first, took a serious interest in Diana in 1980, taking her to a polo match. Their relationship then grew from frequenting polo matches to a proposal of marriage on February 6th, 1981.
The couple officially announced their engagement on February 21st, 1981 when Diana picked out the large, now iconic, sapphire and diamond engagement ring. Lady Diana was only twenty years old when she made the three-and-a-half minute walk down the aisle on July 29th to wed Charles Phillip Arthur George. The wedding was understandably dubbed the "fairy-tale wedding" by the 750 million people that tuned in to watch the wedding of the century.
Just three months after the wedding, the newly titled Her Royal Highness Princess of Wales announced that she was pregnant with her first child. On June 21st, 1982 she gave birth to William Arthur Phillip Louis. Only two years after William was born, Harry Charles Albert David came into the world on September 15th, 1984. The Princess was known to be an extremely hands-on mom, personally picking the nannies, and even taking baby William on their tour of Australia and New Zealand.
By the mid-80's, the Princess became patron of an extensive amount of charities; 118 to be exact. Her charities dealt with serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, helping the homeless and drug addicts. During the final year of her life, she used her growing popularity to highlight the world-wide problem of land-mines. The International Campaign to Ban Land-Mines went on to win the 1997 Noble Peace Prize after her death.
During the 1990's, Prince Charles's and Princess Diana's marriage had inevitably fallen apart. Both spoke openly to the press and blamed each other for their unhappiness. Infidelity was a common factor. The highly publicized and scrutinized affair between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowels was one of the key reasons for the break-up. Diana famously said in a BBC interview, "There were three of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded."
After many ‘attacks’ on each other through the media, the Queen advised the Prince and Princess to divorce. On August 28th, 1996 the divorce was finalized. Diana signed a clause to prevent her from disclosing details about the divorce along with a lump sum of £17 million.
Even after the strain of the divorce, Diana's personal life did not suffer. She dated a respected Pakistani heart-surgeon but then ended the relationship due to pressures from the media. A month later, she started dating the son of an Egyptian billionaire (and Harrods’s owner), Dodi Fayed. Diana spent multiple holidays with him and his family.
On August 30th, 1997 Diana and Dodi arrived in Paris for a romantic dinner – a night which was later to end in tragedy. After finishing dinner at the Ritz Hotel, the couple left via a back-entrance and boarded a Mercedes-Benz. The couple's car, however, was spotted and chased by the infamous ‘paparazzi’. The Mercedes, driven by Henri Paul (who, it was discovered later, was driving over the limit), crashed in the Alma tunnel at a speed of 120 mph. Dodi and the driver were killed on impact but Diana was rushed to hospital where she died at 4 am.
The funeral was held on September 6th, 1997 and was viewed on TV by over 2 billion people. It still remains the most watched funeral ever. She was laid to rest on an island on the Spencer's estate.
The unbelievable impact that Diana left on the world today will never be forgotten. We will never forget where we were when we heard the news, "Diana, Princess of Wales and the Queen of Hearts has died." She knew how to use her popularity to help other people and did so with enormous sincerity and concern. She gave hope to people that didn't have any reason to have any hope and instil in them a desire to live, to fight, to keep going and that there were people out there who genuinely cared for them.
Tony Blair probably said it best when he said, "She was the people's Princess and that's how she will remain. For now and for eternity"