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Spotlight On: Princess Diana, A Biography

Updated on January 20, 2015

Diana

Diana in 1997
Diana in 1997 | Source

Quick Bio

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

May 9, 1981 - Still Lady Diana Spencer, not yet the Princess of Wales, at Broadlands, UK Image from hdwallpapers
May 9, 1981 - Still Lady Diana Spencer, not yet the Princess of Wales, at Broadlands, UK Image from hdwallpapers

First photo after their announcing their engagement

First photograph after engagement announcement, Prince Charles, age 32, with his fiancée, Lady Diana Spencer, 19, outside Buckingham Palace - Feb. 24, 1981
First photograph after engagement announcement, Prince Charles, age 32, with his fiancée, Lady Diana Spencer, 19, outside Buckingham Palace - Feb. 24, 1981

The Royal Wedding was televised around the world

Wedding day July 29, 1981
Wedding day July 29, 1981 | Source

A Prince is born

Carrying Prince William, June 21, 1981 outside of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital in London
Carrying Prince William, June 21, 1981 outside of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital in London | Source

Diana and her boys

Princess Diana with Prince William
Princess Diana with Prince William | Source
Princess Diana with her two boys, Harry, age 2 and William, age 4 in 1986 at Aberdeen Airport
Princess Diana with her two boys, Harry, age 2 and William, age 4 in 1986 at Aberdeen Airport | Source
Diana with William & Harry at Britain amusement park, Thorpe Park, in 1993.
Diana with William & Harry at Britain amusement park, Thorpe Park, in 1993. | Source

Diana dancing with John Travolta at the Reagan White House

1985, Diana danced at the White House with John Travolta, something she had dreamt of.
1985, Diana danced at the White House with John Travolta, something she had dreamt of. | Source

Diana's Charities

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.

Top: Diana  in Zimbabwe in 1993 with a Red Cross project for refugees. Bottom: Harry & William at Red Cross in Bristol, England packing boxes to send to victims of Asian tsunami of 2004
Top: Diana in Zimbabwe in 1993 with a Red Cross project for refugees. Bottom: Harry & William at Red Cross in Bristol, England packing boxes to send to victims of Asian tsunami of 2004 | Source

Diana, stunning in white

At a 1990 charity even in Hungary
At a 1990 charity even in Hungary

Supporting the military was close to her heart. As expected of royal sons, both William & Harry went on to have military careers.

TOP: Diana posing w/ French soldiers serving  NATO-led peace force at the Sarajevo airport BOTTOM: William & Harry at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy
TOP: Diana posing w/ French soldiers serving NATO-led peace force at the Sarajevo airport BOTTOM: William & Harry at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy | Source

Andrew Morton's: Diana, Her True Story

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

Touring Land Mine Fields

Jan. 1997 at Huambo, Angloa touring land mine fields, 8 months before her death
Jan. 1997 at Huambo, Angloa touring land mine fields, 8 months before her death

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.

Conspiracy theories

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

Traffic camera photo of Trevor Rees-Jones, Henri Paul and Princess Diana just before the crash. Notice how bright the light is. It was presumed that it came from paparazzi cameras. Conspiracy theorists now say it was part of the plot to murder Diana.
Traffic camera photo of Trevor Rees-Jones, Henri Paul and Princess Diana just before the crash. Notice how bright the light is. It was presumed that it came from paparazzi cameras. Conspiracy theorists now say it was part of the plot to murder Diana. | Source

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?

See results

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

Fatal crash after being chased by paparazzi August 31, 1997
Fatal crash after being chased by paparazzi August 31, 1997 | Source

Divorce settlement

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."

Diana's legacy

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. All Rights Reserved.

No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permission from the author. Use the following link to refer to this article. Do Not Copy. TYVM

http://rachaelohalloran.hubpages.com/hub/Spotlight-On-Princess-Diana

See update below regarding this article which was copied to other websites.

Sir Elton John sings at Princess Diana's Funeral

Diana, Princess of Wales

Source

Update On Stolen Hubs: I am the author of this article no matter where else you may read it.

3/29/2014 - Update on unscrupulous people stealing my work:

Now that this hub has been copied more than twelve times to other websites and my less than stellar success at having every one of them removed, I thank you for reading my article here on Hubpages when you could have read it almost anywhere else.

Update: 5/23/2014 - I have been very successful in having this hub removed from all twelve websites. Thank you for reading my articles.

© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm not sure any of us really knows what celebrities are really like, but I will say that she was a pleasure to watch as she went about her State duties...I think she was good for England's world image, and she seemed like a genuinely good person.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #billybuc, I admired her too. Such a shame, especially for her sons. Thank you for your comment - and you were first! YAY. lol

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

    What a wonderful in depth hub Rachael, and such a great subject. Princess Diana was a real-life fairytale princess, though her life had a far from happy ending. She was a beautiful and caring person and it is good to see her sons carrying on her legacy. Voted up, great work.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #Jodah, When I look at the newest royal wife, Kate, I wonder if she will ever captivate people like Diana did. I don't think she ever will. I somehow think no one ever will.

    Diana had a way about her, shy and demure, that I don't think Kate has. Kate appears more worldly, where Diana did not.

    I read another newspaper account last night from New Zealand that the Queen "will definitely" be stepping down to give the throne over to Charles within the next two years. lol Who knows if you can trust anything in the newsies anymore, but I think Prince William should step into the spot. We have heard all along Charles never wanted the throne and William was being groomed for it, so get him in there already! lol

    Besides, I don't like Camilla - she's definitely not my cup of tea - "the other woman" and all that - and I don't think either her or Charles deserve the position. It would be a slap in the face to Diana, and Camilla could gloat that she won out after all. There's a reason the Queen didn't put Charles on the throne all these years. She should trust her instincts, and skip over him to William.

    Now that wouldn't that be something!

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Jodah.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Rachael, I hadn't heard about the Queen thinking of stepping down until I read your article. She has been so active recently that I guess I just never expected her to, but you are probably right. I think If Charles is going to be King he would have taken over before now. He has done good environmental and humanitarian work, but there will always be a cloud over him regarding Diana's death and Camilla the other woman. I think William is well grounded and sensible and would be a great king.

    It is strange, Kate is extremely beautiful and seems nice, but just doesn't appear to have the same effect on the public as Diana did.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #Jodah, I agree. :)

  • cecileportilla profile image

    Cecile Portilla 3 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

    Wow! Thanks for allowing us to get a bit more of Princess Diana. She was such an amazing and caring person. I watched all the tapes and enjoyed this hub tremendously. Voted up!

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #cecileportilla - Wasn't she an amazing lady! I know whenever something is written about her, in particular, I'll pick it up to read. The rest of the older royals? I can take them or leave them. I must admit Prince William's future does make me want to follow any news about him. lol Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • bat115 profile image

    Tim 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    I agree. She was an amazing lady and this is a wonderful tribute to her. I think she would have loved Kate if she were still here!

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #bat115 - Kate does seem very nice. Yes, I too think Diana would have liked her. I just don't think Kate has the charisma Diana had. But, she will settle in to the royal way soon enough though. lol Thank you for reading my article, and for your comment.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Wow, this is great. I loved Diana and I know she wasn't perfect but what she had done to her is just so unforgivable and I could never wish any good for that man who really took her whole life. I will bookmark this and love the pictures. Poor Diana...I published a poetry book and forced two poems that were too long in it just because it was sort of a tribute. I cannot believe they let Charles marry that harlot and parade her around and I am sure anyone over there probably would prefer William too as King. A couple months back Charles thought he would demand the limelight be on him instead of William and I guess he saw where that got him! lol Anyway, great stuff! ^+

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #Jackie Lynnley - Thank you for your lovely comment. Not only do I agree with you, but so many others do also. With Charles as king, I do believe there would be widespread rebellion! I never liked him, and probably never will after seeing, hearing and reading all about the behind the scenes stuff Diana shared before and after her death. Thanks for reading my article. I loved researching it which was kind of easy because I loved the subject. :)

  • nighthag profile image

    K.A.E Grove 3 years ago from Australia

    a wonderful article, I too was swept away by her projected romance, and devastated for her when the truth was revealed, I got totally sucked in to the video links you had posted here and spent an entire afternoon lost once again in the magic that was Diana.

    thank you I loved every bit of this wonderful hub :)

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #nighthag - Oh how nice of you to leave such a lovely comment. As for spending an afternoon viewing videos about her, I can't think of a better way to spend the day. Every time I see her sons, I think how proud she would be of them now. And every time I see Charles with Camilla I think, my gosh how right she was! lol Thank you for reading and spending some time on my hub.

    Rachael

    PS Thank you for following me. I've followed you back and look forward to reading some of your hubs :)

  • Sparklea profile image

    Sparklea 3 years ago from Upstate New York

    I will never forget the day she was killed, I was devastated to see it in the headlines. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. My daughter stayed up all night to see the wedding to Prince Charles. She was a good woman. Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub. Last year my daughter and I visited Kensington Palace in London and there was a beautiful picture of her on the wall, and I took a photo for my album. She will always remain in my heart and soul. Voted up and awesome. Blessings, Sparklea :)

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #Sparklea

    Re: Your photo of Diana - what a great treasure to have as a keepsake and how nice to be able to go to Kensington Palace! I'll bet that was a wonderful trip. I wonder how long they'll leave her portrait up when new blood takes over the monarchy. I sure hope it isn't Charles because I don't like Camilla! lol The day Prince William becomes King will be a day all can be sure Diana is smiling down from Heaven.

    And yes, I can remember where I was too that day and such a terribly sad ending to such a wonderful woman's life. It is still so hard to believe that it will be 18 years this year. It doesn't seem like that much time has gone by.

    Thank you for reading and for your comment. I have a whole list of "Spotlight" hubs I am doing because people fascinate me. I just got done doing the Spotlight On : 9/11 World Trade Center workers plight which is also very sad. I need to start writing about happier topics! lol

    Thanks again,

    Rachael

  • NateB11 profile image

    Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

    A fascinating story and a wonderful article about a wonderful woman who charmed us with her beauty and was well-known for her humanitarian efforts.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #NateB11

    I agree, she was a beautiful lady with a heart of gold.

    Thank you for reading and for your comment. :)

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

    I admired Princess Diana very much. She had her troubles but she went out in the world and tried to help and make a difference. She certainly excelled at being a mother and raising her two boys. They are a credit to her today. In my opinion, it was Charles who killed Diana in not loving her and not taking her seriously. He was (and still is) selfish and self-absorbed. Everyone in the world loved her, but Charles did not and could not. What a sad state of affairs. (no pun intended) Had he loved her and tried to make the marriage work, she would not have been in that tunnel under such conditions. So I hold Charles responsible for her death. Interesting hub and a wonderful tribute to Princess Diana.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #suzettenaples

    It is a real shame especially when you see her in early courtship and marriage pictures, she looks so happy and in love. But when you look at Charles, he doesn't show the same glow at all.

    She lived for her boys and stayed there because of them and it is a real tragedy how it all worked out. If she had stayed, if he had loved her (and not another), if , if , if, too many if's to know for sure how her free will would have played into any of the if's for her decision making.

    I agree he had a hand in her death - whether it was directly or indirectly. He brought her into the royal life, he didn't treat her like royalty, and threw her away when she had served the purpose of producing an heir and a spare.

    Thank you for reading my article and for your comment.

    Rachael

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    the lady is a beautiful princess, kindhearted and a lonely person, you can't blame her, as for the accident, stupid reporters! May her soul rest in peace

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

    peachpurple, I agree. The reporters hounded her until they caught up with her and now because of them, she is gone. Thank you for reading and for commenting.

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