Tragic Life of Princess Diana of Wales
Love Story of the Decade
The wedding of Lady Diana and the Prince of Wales seemed to be the love story of the 1980’s. Everyone loved Diana throughout her short life and even through her difficulties. The seemingly story book wedding certainly did not have a story book ending.
Diana, the youngest daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp of English descent (and later became the 8th Earl Spencer) and Frances Spenser, Vicountess Althorp (formerly the Honorable Frances Burke Roche, and later Frances Shand Kydd) was of English and Irish descent. She was born on July 1, 1961, at Park House near Sandringham, Norfolk. Her full name at birth was Diana Frances Spencer and she was the fourth child.
She is of royal descent. On her Father’s side she was a descendant of King Charles II through four illegitimate sons: Henry Fitzoy, 1st Duke of Frafton, Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox, Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St. Albans, and James Crofts-Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth.
He was the leader of the famous Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. She also descended from King James II of England through an illegitimate daughter, Henrietta Fitz James.
On her mother’s side, Diana was Irish and Scottish and descended of American heiress, Frances Work, her mother’s grandmother and namesake. The Spencer’s had been close to the British Royal Family for centuries continually rising in royal favor.
Unfortunately when Diana was six her parents split up and divorced, which seemed to leave Diana emotionally scarred. There was a messy custody battle; the children were pawns in the fight, which was won by her father.
Diana later talked of hearing her mother’s footsteps on the gravel as she left their home. They lived in a beautiful large private estate with ten bedrooms
Diana was primarily raised by her father and when he became the 8th Earl of Spencer he moved the family to Althorpe near Northampton where she spent her childhood years.
Diana’s father paid a lot of attention to proper etiquette and good behavior when raising his children. Her father did remarry Reine, Countess of Dartmouth, and daughter of the famous romantic novelist, Barbara Cartland; however, Reine apparently did not get along well with Diana or any of the children except her own daughter.
Lady Raine was pleased to be the lady of the castle, and she completely refurbished the house. A few of the most expensive paintings were sold, new furniture and wall decorations were ordered. That was not Diana's home any more! Diana’s mother moved to the Island of Seil on the west coast of Scotland.
Diana as a Teenager
Diana’s education was first at boarding school, Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk. Diana was very shy and had difficulty fitting in with the other students. She loved to read but wasn’t really interested in her studies.
She didn’t do particularly well scholastically, but did well in sports, especially swimming. She aspired to become a ballet dancer, but at 5’8” she was thought to be too tall. Two years later Diana was transferred to the West Heath Boarding School in Kent for 5 years.
Her father paid £4000 per term and hoped that this respected school would take any ballet ideas out of her head. Again, it took a long time before Diana felt comfortable amongst her fellow pupils. She did so poorly on her exams that college was not a possibility.
Diana did not want to return to her hold home with Lady Raine ruled the household and with all the changes that had been made. Lady Raine did not get along with any of the four children and she apparently controlled Diana’s father. Diana was broken by the coldness and superior strength of her step-mother.
Diana moved to London to her mother’s flat before the age of 17; then shortly thereafter an apartment for £50,000 was purchased for her 18th birthday.
She lived with three flatmates until 1981. She took an advanced cooking course as suggested by her mother, but didn’t become an adroit cook. Diana had a variety of jobs in a relatively short time, which included: work as a dance instructor for youth until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work. Then, she worked as a preschool play instructor and finally she did some cleaning for her sister Sarah and several friends. She also worked as a hostess at parties
Beautiful Princess Diana Dancing
The Younger Years
Prince Charles was linked to a rather large number of women in his younger years, including Sarah, Diana’s older sister and Camilla Shand, until he was in his early thirties where he was under increasing pressure to marry.
Under the Royal Marriage Act 1772, his marriage required the formal consent of his mother the Queen Elizabeth. Also, under the Act of Settlement 1701, royals must marry in the Church of England or forfeit their succession to the throne.
Since Diana had aristocratic descent, Church of England faith, presumed virginity and native Englishness, she made her a suitable bride for Prince Charles.
Charles had known Diana for several years, but they didn’t date until they met during a country weekend of polo playing. They kept their relationship a secret for a brief time, and their engagement became official in February, 1981 after Diana selected a £30,000 ring consisting of 14 diamonds surrounded by a sapphire, which was similar to her mother’s ring.
At 20 years old she married Charles in St. Paul’s Cathedral, on July 29, 1981. The wedding was viewed by millions of people on global television. She was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the throne in almost 300 years.
Beautiful Princess Not Forgotten
Diana's Community Work
Diana began making public appearances, despite her shyness almost immediately after the wedding.
Prince William was born in 1982, and Harry was born in 1984. Diana struggled with bulimia after Williams birth. She was regarded as a devoted mother, and she made most of the decisions concerning the boys.
She dismissed the royal family nanny and hired one of her own. She chose the first names of the boys, chose their outings, picked their schools, and she took them back and forth to school when time permitted.
Diana was always involved in numerous types of charity work. She particularly became interested in serious illnesses and health matters, including AIDS and leprosy. Furthermore; she worked with the homeless, youth, drug addicts and the elderly.
She was President of Great Omond Street Hospital for Children. In January 1997, pictures of the Princess touring an Angolan minefield in a ballistic helmet which was seen worldwide.
During the final year of her life she was very visibly supporting the Intentional Campaign to Ban Land mines, a campaign that win on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, after her death.
Diana was famous for her openness, as she held the hand of with a patient who was HIV positive in 1987, when many believed the virus could be caught by touch. She treated every one as equals, bonding easily with others and was loved by all.
Divorce and Diana's Tragic Ending
Early in their marriage they were publicly affectionate, but by 1986, there coolness was noticeable by the public, and they spent more time apart. By the early 1990’s Charles and Diana’s marriage had fallen apart.
Rumors abounded concerning Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. This affair was exposed in May, 1992, when tapes of telephone transcripts were leaked. In the meantime, rumors began to surface that Diana had a relationship with Major James Hewitt, her former riding instructor.
In 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced the couples “amiable separation”. In December, 1993, Diana announced her withdrawal from public life. In October, 1995, the Queen asked Charles and Diana for an early divorce as a result of Diana’s Panormam interview where she discussed Charles’s infidelities.
The divorce became final on 28 August 1996. Diana received a lump settlement of £17 million along with a clause forbidding her from discussing the details. Once divorced, she again became Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace made this announcement but stated she was still a member of the Royal Family as the mother of the two boys in line to the throne.
After her divorce, Diana retained her double apartment on the north side of Kensington Palace where she lived until her death. She dated Hasnat Khan, a respected heart surgeon, which they kept secret, as he was from a traditional Pakistani family, who expected him to marry from a related Muslim clan. She started dating Dodi Al-Fayed, son of her host for the summer of 1997, Mohamed Al-Fayed. She had planned to taker her sons to the Hamptons, in NY, but security officials prevented it.
She then decided against a planned trip to Thailand, and she accepted the invitation to vacation in south of France where the Al-Fayed had a large security detail and a multi-million dollar yacht.
On August 30, 1997, she and Dodie left the Ritz Hotel in Paris being pursued by paparazzi and crashed in a tunnel in Paris where she and Dodie both died.
Elton John's Memorial Song for the Princess
In summary, late on September 6, 1997 Diana’s funeral was seen by millions, as she was buried on the Spenser Family Estate.
She left behind a world of mourners, as it seems so many people were able to relate to her on some level and admire her for the many accomplishments in her short, tragic life. She tragically left behind her sobs as well. Maybe her true love story is the one she had with the commoner, or maybe she never really found true happiness. We will never know for sure.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.