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In Memory of
Princess Diana
July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997

Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances (nee Spencer) July 1, 1961 ~ August 31, 1997), was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Diana

Born July 1, 1961, Diana Frances Spencer was the youngest daughter of Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, later John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, and his first wife, Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp. She was the third child to the couple, her siblings being The Lady Sarah Spencer, The Lady Jane Spencer, and Charles Spencer. A second brother, John, died at birth in 1960.

Following her parent™s acrimonious divorce when Diana was just 8 years old, she lived briefly with her mother and younger brother in London. However, a subsequent custody battle eventually awarded the children to the care of Lord Spencer.

In 1976 Lord Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth. During this time Diana travelled up and down the country, living between her parents' homes ”with her father at the Spencer seat in Northamptonshire, and with her mother, who had moved Scotland. Diana, like her siblings, did not get along with her stepmother.

It seemed formal education was not a comfortable fit for the future Princess. She was home-schooled until the age of nine and then attended Riddlesworth Hall between the ages of nine and twelve. From 12 to 16 she was a student at West Heath School (Kent) but dropped out before completing her studies. She finally attended finishing school in Switzerland, Chateau d ex, but left after just a few months. It was there that she first met her future husband. She excelled in swimming and diving. However, the one subject that Diana seemed to truly enjoy was ballet, but at 5™ 10 was too tall. Some reports mentioned that she had a fondness for Prince Charles, and she kept a picture of him on her wall at school.

Diana grew up practically next door to Queen Elizabeth II, living at Park House, a mansion next to the Sandringham estate of the royal family. While Prince Charles was 12 years older than Diana, Prince Andrew was close in age and they were childhood playmates. She would later meet Prince Charles again at the age of 16, when he was dating her older sister, Sarah. She definitely made an impression on him, but she was still too young for him date.

After Diana left school, she moved to London and found work as a housekeeper, nanny and kindergarten teacher™s aide. She lived with three roommates in a house her father had purchased.

Prince Charles, now in his early thirties, was under great pressure to marry. Legally there was only one requirement he had to meet; his bride could not be Roman Catholic. The royal family preferred a member of the Church of England. However, to gain full approval of his family and their advisors, any potential bride was expected to have a royal or aristocratic background, be a virgin, as well as be Protestant.

In 1980, Diana was visiting her sister Jane, and met Prince Charles again. They started dating and six months later he proposed to her. They married at St. Paul™s Cathedral (which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey) on July 29, 1981 in what has been hailed as the œwedding of the century. Authorities estimated that 750 million people around the world witnessed the œfairytale event through television. Diana was 20 years old and Charles 32. She was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the British throne in almost 300 years.

Early on, Diana was awkward in the public eye growing gradually more comfortable with each public event she was required to attend. She gave birth to their first son, Prince William in 1982 and then Prince Harry in 1984. After her pregnancy with William Princess Diana struggled with bulimia, yet at the same time was beginning to gain popularity as a fashion figure.

By 1986, the visual signs that their marriage was unraveling were becoming more obvious. Diana and Charles spent more time apart and when they were seen together in public, their affections were cool. Still, the world media suppressed news of this broken relationship only to sensationalize it later. Prince Charles, as it would later be reported, was engaged in a long-term affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, and Diana was struggling with alleged suicide attempts. In December of 1992, it was agreed, after consulting with government officials and with approval of the Queen, that the two would legally separate. On December 3, 1993, Diana announced her withdrawal from public life.

In December 1995 the Queen sent separate letters to Charles and Diana asking for an œearly divorce. Prince Charles agreed immediately, but Diana delayed her agreement until February 1996. Their divorce was finalized on August 28, of that same year. Reports of the settlement terms included approximately $23 million for Diana plus an additional $600,000 per year. She was given a legal order not to discuss the details of the settlement. They would both be active in their sons lives and she would continue to live at Kensington Palace. At the divorce she also gave up all but six of the charities she had been working with.

Diana™s title seemed to be a bigger issue. Days before the divorce was finalized, Letters Patent were issued by Queen Elizabeth II stating general rules to regulate the titles of people who married into the Royal Family after divorce. In accordance with these new rules, Diana lost her title Her Royal Highness™ and was instead given the title, ˜Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day the divorce was official, announcing Diana™s change of title. But, Buckingham Palace was also quick to state that Diana was still officially a member of the Royal Family since she was mother to the second- and third-in-line to the throne. However, as Prime Minister Tony Blair would later comment, she will be remembered as œThe People™s Princess.

After the divorce, Diana retained her apartment in Kensington Palace. She completely redecorated it and the flat remained her home until her death.

Diana did keep active in six charities after the divorce; homelessness, AIDS, leprosy, the English National Ballet, the hospital for children Great Ormond Street and the Royal Marsden Hospital for cancer . She continued her efforts on their behalf until her death. She worked particularly for the Red Cross. In this capacity, she was the vice president of the British Red Cross and served as a member of the International Red Cross advisory board. Further, Diana campaigned aggressively to rid the world of land mines. Her work here was on a humanitarian level more than a political one. Diana was a supporter of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which later went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

The Princess was a passionate champion of the rights of disadvantaged people. She used her fame and high profile to raise awareness and funds for many charitable causes.

Diana, in particular, raised worldwide awareness of AIDS patients. Her contribution to changing the public opinion of AIDS sufferers was summarized in December 2001 by Bill Clinton at the ˜Diana princess of Wales Lecture on AIDS™:

œIn 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through causal contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change the worlds opinion, and gave hope to the people with AIDS.

The Washington Post once described Diana as a benevolent alternative monarch. To underscore this description, Diana had Christie™s auction off 79 of the gowns she wore during her 15 years as the wife of Windsor. All of the proceeds went to charity.

She also found time to pursue her own personal interests in philanthropy, music, fashion and travel. Diana, was however, still required to obtain royal consent to take her children on holiday or to represent the UK anywhere abroad. She spent most of her time in London, often without her sons as they were either at boarding school or with their father.

In her personal life, Diana was publicly dating Hasnat Khan, a respected heart surgeon from Pakistan. He ended the relationship after almost two years, citing cultural differences. Soon after, Diana began dating Dodi Al-Fayed, son of Mohammed al-Fayed owner of Harrod™s department store and the Ritz hotel in Paris.

Late on August 30, 1997, Diana and Dodi left the Ritz Hotel in Paris, in a car with an al-Fayed family driver, Henri Paul and Dodi™s bodyguard. Paul was instructed to drive the black Mercedes Benz through Paris, secretly eluding the paparazzi. They crashed at high speed into the 13th pillar of the Pont d'Alma tunnel in the French capital, killing Diana, 36, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, 42, and their driver Henri Paul, 41. The paparazzi had all been trailing the car, but it was later revealed that Henri Paul had a blood alcohol level three times that of the French limit. No one in the car was wearing seatbelts. Diana died in the early hours of August 31.

The funeral for the Princess of Wales was held on Septebmer 6, 1997 and reportedly was seen by billions of people worldwide via television. Diana is buried on an island on the Spencer family estate. Her legacy lives on as one of the most dynamic icons of our generation.

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