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Princess Diana - A Pictorial History
Diana, The People's Princess
Aged 19 she married a future king and became, almost overnight one of the most instantly recognisable women in the world. At her wedding the Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made."
Yet she was not a happy young woman. Her marriage did not solve her problems, only added to them. Diana was only 36 when she died a violent, senseless death. She left behind two young sons, a string of lovers and an international sense of tragic loss that was stunning in its reach.
Before The Royal Family
Princess Diana was born Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961 at Park House, the home her parents rented on the British royal family's estate at Sandringham. Her parents were Edward John and Frances Spencer Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, later Earl and Countess Spencer. Diana had two older sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a younger brother, Charles. When she was 6 her parents split up and her mother got married to businessman, Peter Shand-Kydd. Diana's father received custody of the children. In 1975 he became the eighth Earl Spencer, making Diana a Lady. Diana and her siblings moved to Althorp, the Spencer family estate in Northampton.
The Spencer children continued to see their mother regularly and often spent school holidays at Frances' new home in the north-west of Scotland. As was the custom among the aristocracy at the time, when she was about 8 Diana was sent off to boarding school first at Riddlesworth Hall and later to West Heath Girls School in Kent.
Earl Spencer's second marriage to Raine, formerly Countess of Dartmouth and daughter of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland, and a colourful and strong headed character, did not meet with the approval of his children, and it was never to be a peaceful household. On her arrival 'Raine stopped play' was caustically entered into the visitor book at Althrop.
Diana never enjoyed the academic life and on leaving school at sixteen without a single 'O' level was enrolled at a Swiss finishing school, the Institut Alpin Vidamenette. She suffered terrible homesickness, and after two weeks of pleading letters her parents allowed her to return, and her indulgent father bought her a London flat, which she shared with friends.
As she had always been fond of children, she embarked on a career first as a nanny and later as a nursery assistant at the Young England Kindergarten in Pimlico, London. It was here that she first attracted the attention of the British Press.
The New Princess
romance with the Prince of Wales began in 1980 and, in 1981 her engagement to Prince Charles captivated the world. The image of the inexperienced, shy teacher meeting her prince charming delighted even the most jaded observers. The oldest child of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, Charles was 12 years older than Diana, and had previously dated her sister Sarah. Almost from the start, the press took a special interest in "Lady Di." She became an immediate hit with the British public and a household name throughout the world.
Diana and Charles were married July 29, 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey which had been previously used for royal nuptials. The wedding was broadcast in 74 countries and watched by 750 million people worldwide. It was at the ceremony that the Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made."
However, the marriage was soon in trouble and its breakdown was daily fodder for tabloids during the 1990s. The fairy tale was an illusion, as Diana discovered. Charles had resumed his old romance with Camilla Parker Bowles, the wife of his friend Andrew Parker Bowles and Diana resented the relationship. The obligations and rituals of royal life also took a toll. Diana later admitted severe psychological problems. . "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," Princess Diana remarked years later. Distraught, Diana developed bulimia and attempted suicide. Despite her problems, she was a devoted mother to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. She worked tirelessly for charity, and was beloved by the public for her warmth and humanity.
In 1992 Princess Diana decided to expose the truth about her relationship with Prince Charles to the public. She secretly collaborated with author Andrew Morton on his book Diana, Her True Story. The princess's direct involvement in the writing of the book was not revealed to the public until after her death.The separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales was announced on December 9, 1992 and the divorce became official August 28, 1996. After months of negotiations, Diana received a generous settlement consisting of a lump sum of $28 million, $600,000 per year. Diana did not retain the right to be called Her Royal Highness but kept the title Princess of Wales and continued to work for her favorite charities. She and Prince Charles had joint custody of their sons.
In 1997, after several unsatisfactory affairs, Princess Diana began a love affair with Emad "Dodi" Fayed, the son of billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. Their romance ended abruptly on August 31, 1997 when both were killed in a car accident in Paris while fleeing from paparazzi. Princess Diana's sudden death led to an unprecedented worldwide outpouring of grief and love. As her brother said at her funeral, she was "the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplacable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds."
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