Princess Diana, a Biography
Name: Diana, Princess of Wales
Birth Name: Diana Frances Spencer, became Lady Diana Spencer at age 14, in 1975
Born: July 1, 1961, Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Parents: John Spencer, Frances Shand Kydd
Married: July 29, 1981 to Charles, Prince of Wales
Children: son, second in line to the British throne - Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales (Duke of Cambridge) on June 21, 1982; son, Prince Henry Charles Albert David on September 15, 1984
Separation Announcement: December 1992
Divorced: August 28, 1996
Companion at time of death: Dodi al Fayed, killed in same car crash
Siblings: Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Charles Spencer, Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes, John Spencer
Died: August 31, 1997, Paris, France; car accident while pursued by paparazzi
Buried: September 7, 1997 at her family residence in Althorp, Northamptonshire
Princess Diana has always held a fascination for me.
Although she was a few years younger than I, we gave birth in the same years. Her babies were born in 1982 and 1984. I had my third son in 1982 and my fourth son in 1984.
Many women around the world who had babies in those years identified with Diana and "her boys."
From Lady Diana to Princess Diana
Even in death, Princess Diana still draws people to her, through books, movies, photographs or news articles. People can't get enough of reading about her or seeing pictures of her. And rightly so. Of all the royals up to that time, she had been the most charismatic of them all.
She went from a shy kindergarten teacher to a princess in a few short years and was thrust into the media spotlight. The United States of America (where I live) has had a fascination with royals long before then, but when Diana came on the scene as the newest royal, the fascination became love, not for all, just for this one young girl we were introduced to as "Lady Diana Spencer."
The press knew any article featuring Lady Di and later Princess Di would not only "sell" but would help the journalist or photographer make his mark with a by-line or imprint. It is true that Princess Diana received more attention than the sum total of the royal family, which probably didn't go over very big with them at the time.
It was attention she never asked for, never wanted, and was never able to truly get used to. Along the way she learned how to use the publicity to her advantage, associating her high profile name and status with certain charities and causes. Later in her life, she shared her struggles with bulimia and postpartum depression, and ultimately, she exposed a few royal secrets ... most notably her husband's infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles, the "third person in her marriage."
She taught her children not only royal ways, but as she learned by her own trial and error, how to get along in the world outside of the castle walls.
Lady Diana Spencer in May 1981
First photo after their announcing their engagement
The Royal Wedding was televised around the world
A Prince is born
Diana and her boys
Diana dancing with John Travolta at the Reagan White House
She instilled duty into both her children, not only their royal duty but duty as human beings.
Her love of people showed through especially when she visited the military, the impoverished, the sick, or when she volunteered with the Red Cross. She especially loved children of all ages and races.
People with AIDS were also close to her heart. She boldly and proudly showed the world that shaking their hand, giving them a hug, or just touching their shoulder proved they were not contagious through that little bit of contact and that they deserved to be touched, hugged and loved just like anyone else who suffers with a devastating illness.
Her sons carry on today, not only in Princess Diana's place with her charities, but also by making their own place in the world supporting their own charities, and as philanthropists, benefactors, Royals and, most importantly, as Diana's sons.
For no matter what titles they have, they will always be "her sons.".
Volunteering with The Red Cross was important to Diana. Her sons also support the Red Cross.
Diana, stunning in white
Supporting the military was close to her heart. As expected of royal sons, both William & Harry went on to have military careers.
Princess Diana's audio tapes
I wanted to insert all of the 15 You Tube videos of Jane Pauley's NBC special featuring Diana's audio and video tapes, but I decided against it. I couldn't justify crowding this hub with 15 videos which would not only be overkill with videos, but would overpower and take away the spotlight from her beautiful photographs in this article.
I watched and included only two videos into this hub, and decided to provide links to the remaining videos so you can choose to watch them or not. Each video is from 4 to 8 minutes, for a total of nearly two hours.
Diana's voice on these videos, transcribed from tapes, is chilling. She gives a rare behind the scenes look at her life as a new wife, the truth behind key events in the palace and in her marriage, and what she was going through at the time, all the while putting up a different front to the public.
What she talks about may already be common knowledge to some people, but to others it will be the first time they have heard it. The original audio tapes were given to Andrew Morton so he could write "her book" (Diana: Her True Story, link in sidebar) without specifically naming her as his source, referring only to a "royal insider." After her death, he did name her as his source.
Since her death, some of Diana's letters have come forward showing her fear of being killed by her husband and others.
Here are the first two videos, with Princess Diana's narration.
Part 1 is about 8 1/2 minutes
Part 2 is about 8 1/4 minutes
Links to the remaining videos
Part 3 is 8 3/4 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqQZSVIiPHA
Part 4 is 8 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqsDMpMyPG4
Part 5 is 8 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXcrrX3fHzc
Part 6 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX7W6k45S9M
Part 7 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZuapmisQr0
Part 8 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B6W8JDXjgk
Part 9 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zthNFISY9gU
Part 10 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD4YTLxVbSo
Part 11 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrAF5IESSmw
Part 12 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxDaRTrl0kk
Part 13 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dw7sTuscGY
Part 14 is 4 1/2 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY5IMqtEAW4
Part 15 is 4 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IcO-npe6U0
Touring Land Mine Fields
Diana's letter talking about a planned car accident
Since her death, a couple of letters penned by Princess Diana have come to light. One dated October 1996, just 10 months before her death, was given to her butler, Paul Burrell, who later wrote a book, discusses that she was in fear of her life. He produced the letter six years after her death.
The letter said that Prince Charles was planning an accident to happen with her car, to somehow cause her death or a serious head injury that would clear the way for him to marry Camilla Parker Bowles.
Another letter was given to her lawyer. Lord Mishcon, in 1995.
In September 2013, an ex-sniper in the Special Air Service (SAS), whose identity is known only as "Soldier N," said that his regiment murdered Princess Diana along with some of the passengers in her vehicle on orders from MI-6, who received them from "a member of the royal family."
In a conversation with his wife, Soldier N said that his squad used a maneuver employed against terrorists which was to flash a high-powered light into the driver's face to cause the car to crash. The reason, he said, was that Diana's affair with a Muslim was a threat and an embarrassment to the royal family. His wife later told her mother who then wrote the confession into a seven page letter sent it to Scotland Yard.
In October 2013, upon learning his fate to be interrogated by Scotland Yard and other agencies, Soldier N (no longer a member of SAS) fled back to the Middle East so he would not have to be questioned. It is unknown if his fear is of being questioned regarding his allegations of murder, of facing the press, or regarding his crime of smuggling thousands of stolen British pounds into England after returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soldier N's wife has now also gone into hiding, lending a lack of credence to the whole MI6 conspiracy story.
One author, John Morgan, who is employed by Dodi's father, has investigated this for over eight years. You can see the interview with him here. Others believe Soldier N may just be someone trying to get fifteen minutes of fame. If he was telling the truth, considering the far reaching arm of the royals and of Scotland Yard, perhaps telling this story and then running away wasn't the best idea.
Soldier N's story is only one in a long line of conspiracy theories. No doubt we will still hear many more as time goes by.
It was a sad day when Princess Diana died and in the mind of some people, they want whomever is responsible to be held accountable - no matter who they are, royal or not.
Bright lights in tunnel just before the crash
Were the paparazzi to blame for her death?
Paris, France. August 31, 1997. When the couple left the Hotel Ritz Paris, owned by Dodi al Fayed's father, Mohammed al-Fayed, photographers relentlessly pursued Princess Diana and her companion Dodi al Fayed through the streets of Paris at high speeds, causing the car to crash at Pont del'Alma underpass. The photographers were blamed for causing the accident that killed everyone but one occupant of her vehicle, Trevor Rees-Jones who claims to have little or no memory of the accident. Princess Diana lived for two hours but died at a Paris hospital as a result of her injuries.
In 1999, two years after her death, an inquiry led to a French judge saying the photographers were not to blame. The driver, Henri Paul, head of security at the hotel, was cited as being at fault since his autopsy revealed he had prescription drugs in his system in addition to having a high blood alcohol level.
Another inquiry in 2006 by Scotland Yard also found the driver at fault.
In April 2008 there was a British inquest with a jury which found both the driver and the paparazzi were guilty, calling the incident "an unlawful killing through grossly negligent driving."
Dodi's father, Mohammed al-Fayed, still contends there was a conspiracy to kill both his son and Princess Diana. With his considerable wealth, he has financed investigations into many conspiracy allegations in an effort to be able to name the guilty party. He continues to investigate leads.
Who is responsible for Princess Diana's death?
Since reading the conspiracy theories in this hub, who do you think is behind Princess Diana's accident?
Mohammed al-Fayed charges Royal Family with murder of his son
On October 3, 2007, this story published in a British tabloids reported that Dodi al-Fayed's father, Mohammed al-Fayed, made the charge of murder against Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, since it has now become public that Prince Philip ordered MI6 to give the Royal Family a private report on Diana and her relationship with Dodi al-Fayed, well in advance of the August 31, 1997 car crash. In the article, Mohammed al-Fayed contends that after the Royal Family received the MI6 report, they then engineered the accident that killed his son.
The story sounds familiar of letters Diana left behind where she suspected someone in the royal family would arrange her accident, believing that Prince Charles would succeed to the throne for a short time, just enough to get into the history books as King. The throne would then pass to her son, Prince William.
Quoting from the 2007 article in the Yorkshire Post: "The jury was told of a note from Diana's lawyer, Lord Mishcon, following a meeting at Kensington Palace in October 1995. In the note, Lord Mishcon said: "Her Royal Highness said that she had been informed by reliable sources whom she did not wish to reveal ... that (a) The Queen would be abdicating in April 1996 and the Prince of Wales would assume the throne and (b) efforts would be made if not to get rid of her (be it by some accident in her car such as prepared brake failure or whatever) between now and then." Lord Justice Scott Baker also said Mr al-Fayed had claimed Diana had told him she believed her life was in danger.
A complete list of al-Fayed's claims is itemized and appears in this article from New Zealand's The Dominion Post.
UPDATE: On January 20, 2014, the UK newspaper, The Mirror published that the Queen announced that she is delegating many of her royal duties to Prince Charles in a sort of "job-share" until she abdicates sometime this year.
It has long been speculated by tabloids and book authors that Prince Charles didn't want to be King, deferring to his son Prince William to succeed. Princess Diana always contended that Prince Charles secretly wanted to be King, but believed that his mother would never step down or trust him to run the kingdom. Although Prince William has been groomed to move into the position, it seems now he will have to wait in line behind his father, Prince Charles. The Queen expects the "quiet succession" to take place in late 2014 or early 2015.
It looks like Diana might have been right after all.
Fatal car crash, preserved as evidence
Diana Wallpapers, Photo Gallery, Inquest Videos, Bio on sons
- Princess Diana Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave
Tons of awesome Princess Diana wallpapers to download for free. You can also upload and share your favorite Princess Diana wallpapers. HD wallpapers and background images
- Princess Diana Photo Gallery - Princess Diana Pictures - Biography.com
Browse through our Princess Diana Photo Gallery photo gallery, with pictures of Princess Diana.
- Prince William, duke of Cambridge (British prince) -- Encyclopedia Britannica
Elder son of Charles, prince of Wales, and Diana, princess of Wales, and second in line (after Charles) to the British throne.
- Prince Harry of Wales (British prince) -- Encyclopedia Britannica
Younger son of Charles, prince of Wales, and Diana, princess of Wales.
- HowStuffWorks: Princess Diana dies in car crash.
Very very short bio on Diana from 1981 to death.
- The Ritz Diana Videos Prove The Assassination
The official Inquest videos
As part of the divorce agreement, which took almost three years to hash out the details, Princess Diana was granted about 17 million pounds in a lump sum and was allowed to keep her valuable jewelry.
As the mother of William and Harry, and because the couple agreed to joint custody, the settlement agreement said Princess Diana could live in Kensington Palace until the children "came of age".
She didn't live long enough to see them "come of age."
The People's Princess
Though on this earth for only 36 years, she brought awareness to many issues as a British Royal. Even after she and Prince Charles divorced, her popularity never wavered - everyone loved her.
Her charitable work garnered much attention simply because "she" was the royal who was involved in the charity. She used the media to bring awareness to the aggressiveness of photographers who relentlessly pursued her and ultimately would be held responsible for contributing to her death.
Diana, no longer "Her Royal Highness" since her divorce from Prince Charles, retained her title "Princess of Wales."
She will always be "The People's Princess."
Simply because William and Harry are "her" sons, the Royal fascination continues and people genuinely care about them.
For the most part, her sons have learned to use the media to their advantage. She has taught them well. Although they were still young when Diana died, she instilled in them the things she believed in - caring for people, caring for causes, and caring for each other. They are her legacy and they continue to take care of her charities as well as their own.
Since her death, seeing their brotherly interaction in television interviews and family photographs, she has much of which to be proud.
Rachael O'Halloran. March 14, 2014.
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Sir Elton John sings at Princess Diana's Funeral
Diana, Princess of Wales
© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran