Princess Diana was the world's most beloved royal member known for her humanitarian efforts, fashion sense, and as the mother of future heirs to the British throne, Prince William and Prince Harry.
Princess of Wales, Diana, was born on July 1 as the fourth of five children to John Spencer, the 8th Earl Spencer, and his first wife, Frances Ruth Roche.
The couple separated when she was six years old and each later remarried. At age nine, Diana enrolled at Riddlesworth Hall, an all-girls boarding school in Northfolk. When she turned 13, she was given the title of Lady following her grandfather’s death.
The Prince and Princess of Wales attend a welcome ceremony in Toronto at the beginning of their Canadian tour in October 1991. (M) An insert of Kensington Palace | Source: Getty Images
PRINCE CHARLES NOTICES DIANA
In 1977, Princess Diana met her future husband, Prince Charles, who was dating her older sister Sarah. In 1980, during a summer weekend in the country, the Prince of Wales noticed Lady Diana.
Later that year, he took her sailing on the royal yacht and even invited her to Balmoral, his family's Scottish retreat, to meet them.
The following year, the tabloids reported that something was brewing between the pair leading Prince Charles' father, Prince Philip, to write a letter to his son urging him to propose or end the relationship. The 73-year-old interpreted it as an order to pop the big question.
Princess Diana and the Prince of Wales, Charles, all smiles while dancing at a formal event | Photo: Getty Images
Prince Charles later asked for Princess Diana's hand in marriage, and they went public with their engagement in February 1981. That same night, she moved out of her London apartment, and her bodyguard gave her a sterling warning about her next life, saying:
“I just want you to know that this is your last night of freedom ever, in the rest of your life, so make the most of it.”
Princess of Wales, Diana, arriving at the Serpentine Gallery on June 1994, in a gown by Christina Stambolian in London | Photo: Getty Images
The following month, the media mocked her when she wore a plunging black gown by Elizabeth Emanuel for her first major post-engagement outing, criticized as inappropriate.
After experiencing a glimpse of what her life would be like, Princess Diana and Prince Charles walked down the aisle in July 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981, London, England | Photo: Getty Images
The nuptials saw 2,500 guests in attendance at the chapel, which better accommodated them than the Westminster Abbey, the usual wedding venue. Nearly 750 million TV viewers viewed the wedding.
Amid the ceremony, the royal couple deviated from tradition. The princess omitted the word "obey" in her vows and, together, delayed their first kiss until returning to Buckingham Palace.
After saying their "I dos," the newlyweds moved into apartments 8 and 9 in Kensington Palace, where they raised their two sons, Prince Harry and Prince William.
Pictured: An ariel view of Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens, London, England | Photo: Getty Images
INSIDE THEIR APARTMENT
To ensure that the home décor befitted her style, the Princess of Wales collaborated with renowned interior designer Dudley Poplak to transform the three floors of the palace into a beautiful family home.
An ariel view of the exterior design of Kensington Palace is surrounded by lush green with a pond near walking distance on the other side of the road.
The multi-generational residence's main entrance consists of gold accents at the front gate, featuring glass frosting windows for privacy.
Pictured: The main entrance to Princess Diana and Prince Charles' Kensington Palace | Photo: YouTube/AP Archive
On the apartment's interior, there is a white piano centered in the brown carpeted room with white wallpaper featuring one red couch against the wall and a mid-uniform of a mannequin.
A glass exhibition featured two white and black dresses in the display, with the first designed by Catherine Walker and the second by Emanuel.
The princess's sitting room featured a blue and pink color scheme with a white carpet that matched her lampstand and her bookcase situated against the wall.
Pictured: A glimpse inside the Princess of Wales and the Prince of Wales' apartments | Photo: YouTube/AP Archive
The space also doubled as the royal's home office, which featured a large wooden desk at one end. She opted for a feminine décor with frilly curtains and cushions.
However, her dining room was less feminine because it featured a darker color scheme with deep red curtains and a dark green dining table.
Princess Diana's drawing-room was decorated with a large tapestry and a floral printed rug. She added a touch of vibrant multi-colored cushions on one sofa and a soft orange armchair with fringing at the bottom. The home is finished in gold lacquer.
Princess Diana in her sitting room at home in Kensington Palace with her Lady-in-waiting Anne Beckwith-smith | Photo: Getty Images
WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG
When the princess was pregnant with the couple’s first child Prince William, born in June 1982, she fell down the staircase at Sandringham at the end of her first trimester. She later admitted that it was a deliberate cry for attention from her spouse.
The couple welcomed their second child, Prince Harry, in September 1984, and Prince Charles, who wanted a girl, complained about having a second son:
"It's a boy, and he's even got red hair."
Diana Princess of Wales and Prince Charles with new born Prince Harry, leave St.Mary's Hospital on September 16, 1984 in Paddington, London | Photo: Getty Images
His wife later told biographer Andrew Morton that “something inside me closed off,” killing whatever love she had for him and cementing her belief "Charles had gone back to his lady," Camilla Parker Bowles (now Duchess of Cornwall).
In 1989, during the 40th birthday party for Bowles' sister, Princess Diana dismissed her husband and confronted her rival about their ongoing affair. "I would like you to know that I know what is going on," she stated.
However, in 1992, Britain’s Sun newspaper revealed the “Squidgygate” tapes, alleged to be from a years-old phone conversation with alleged lover, James Gilby, who referred to Princess Diana by Squidgy, a pet name, he uttered several times throughout the recording.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their last official trip together - A visit to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) | Photo: Getty Images
December that year, Prime Minister John Major informed Parliament that Prince Charles and Princess Diana had separated. The decision came a month after a disastrous official visit to South Korea, forcing the palace to realize it was time for them to part ways.
After their divorce in 1996, the former couple gave their side of the story in revealing interviews. The biography "Charles At Seventy: Thoughts, Hopes, And Dreams" alleged the Prince of Wales doubted marrying Princess Diana, following 13 dates:
“I desperately wanted to get out of the wedding in 1981, when during the engagement I discovered just how awful the prospects were having had no chance whatsoever to get to know Diana beforehand.”
The Prince and Princess of Wales attend a welcome ceremony in Toronto at the beginning of their Canadian tour, October 1991 | Photo: Getty Images
When asked whether he was in love with her, he awkwardly responded, “Whatever in love means.” A tell-all book “The Diana Chronicles” described the pair’s marital woes written by Tina Brown which revealed:
“It’s assertion was that Diana wouldn’t settle for the system of structural infidelity that maintained royal marital facades of the past.”
Princess Diana at a banquet in New Zealand wearing a blue chiffon evening dress designed by fashion designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel (the Emanuels) | Photo: Getty Images
In candid tapes, the princess shared her struggles, including an eating disorder, suicide attempts, her husband's enduring affair with his married girlfriend (and now wife), Bowles, and feelings of despair concerning her marriage. Of her wedding, she said:
“I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. And I knew it.”
Pictured: The Prince and Princess of Wales during a visit to Ottawa in Canada | Photo: Getty Images
THE INEVITABLE DIVORCE
Following the divorce, the princess forfeited some perks as a royal member, including her royal title. The royal matriarch reportedly wanted her to keep the style of her royal highness, but Prince Charles was "adamant" that she gave it up and was instead given the title Diana, Princess of Wales.
She had to ask the monarch’s permission to use other perks. Princess Diana had access to the royal family’s jets and was able “to use the state apartments at St. James’s Palace for entertaining."
Princess Diana, wearing the Spencer family tiara with a suite of sapphire and diamond jewels which had been a gift from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, at a state reception in Brisbane, Australia | Photo: Getty Images
The royal was also permitted to keep all the jewelry she amassed during her marriage except for the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara.
She also dated around after the split and began a relationship with surgeon Hasnat Khan in 1995. Following their breakup, she started dating Egyptian heir and film producer Dodi Fayed in 1997.
Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales on the royal yacht 'Britannia' with their sons William and Harry during a visit to Venice, Italy, April 1985 | Photo: Getty Images
Despite the tension, she and Prince Charles continued to co-parent their two young boys, who were 11 and 14 at the time. They were granted equal access to Prince William and Prince Harry. The duo seemed to be civil as they worked together in co-parenting.
The princess also managed to keep her home and was allowed to keep her apartment at Kensington Palace. A financial specialist laid out possible plans to manage her finances in a hypothetical scenario.
The Prince And Princess of Wales being interviewed by Alastair Burnet in their home at Kensington Palace | Photo: Getty Images
Robert C. Elliot, a senior executive vice president at Bessemer Trust in New York, who specialized in wealthy clients, was asked by The New York Times to develop financial plans he may recommend to the princess if she were his client.
He advised her to purchase another house and list it at $2 million, saying, “while she has use of her residence at Kensington Palace, she will need, from a personal perspective, to have another residence.”
Royal entrance to the apartments of The Prince and Princess of Wales in Kensington Palace | Photo: Getty Images
Previously, there were threats from the Irish Republican Army against the royal family that would make such a house problematic or increase its cost because of security requirements.
One other factor was if she were to remarry, it would have jeopardized other aspects of the divorce settlement, such as her right to Kensington Palace.
Pictured: Late royal, Princess Diana smiles, dressed in a matching pink outfit in Argentina | Photo: Getty Images
Meanwhile, another expert, Tim Kochis, principal partner of Kochis Fitz Tracy & Gorman of San Francisco, echoed Elliot’s sentiments on the princess finding another house:
“It should be somewhere, wherein Switzerland or the South of France, that she could escape to. I would get as far away from the Windors as I could.”
Diana, Princess of Wales, sitting on the steps outside her country home, Highgrove | Photo: Getty Images
Before she died, Princess Diana spent her last Christmas alone due to a royal tradition which meant her sons Prince William and Prince Harry celebrated with the Queen.
Following her breakup from Prince Charles, she was no longer obligated to spend her Christmas in the traditional setting of Sandringham House in Norfolk.
On the last day of her visit to Chicago Princess Diana waves to enthusiastic crowd in June 2007 | Photo: Getty Images
HER TRAGIC PASSING
Princess Diana was involved in a fatal car accident in Paris, France, in August 1997. Upon arrival in the city, she and her rumored billionaire boyfriend Fayed dined at the private salon at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
A few minutes past midnight, the pair left the hotel and got into the Mercedes Benz waiting for them. Though the speed limit was said to be 30 mph, the driver, Henri Paul, reportedly approached the entrance of a road tunnel driving at approximately 70 mph.
According to reports, he lost control of the vehicle and collided with a pillar in the middle of the highway. Paul and Fayed were pronounced dead at the scene while the princess – still alive - was rushed to the hospital but later succumbed to internal bleeding.
Pictured: Diana, Princess of Wales poses for a photograph at her home in Kensington Palace | Photo: Getty Images
According to her eldest son, Prince William, their grandmother shielded them from the ensuing news spectacle. However, luckily for them, smartphones were not popular at the time, so they mourned in private. He said in a 2017 BBC documentary:
“We had no idea that the reaction to her death would be quite so huge.”
Princess Diana at her home in Kensington Palace with dress designer Catherine Walker and her team of dressmakers called 'petits Mains' | Photo: Getty Images
Meanwhile, his younger brother, Prince Harry, said during an event for mental health charity in 2016: “I regret not ever talking about it.” He shared he spent 28 years of his life keeping mum about the daunting experience and has since become an advocate for mental health awareness.
On the other hand, the Queen waited five days before publicly addressing Princess Diana's death, ultimately resulting in public scrutiny. Still, when she paid tribute to her, she described her as a “gifted human being.”
Princess Diana’s Kensington Palace now hosts young British royals and was torn into two apartments. Apartment 8 is used by four of Prince Charles’ charities, and Apartment 9 became home to the Chief of Defense Staff.
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