Diana, Princess of Wales, (Diana Frances; née Spencer;1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. Their sons, Princes William and Henry (Harry), are second and third in line to the thrones of the United Kingdom and fifteen other Commonwealth Realms.
A public figure from the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana remained the focus of near-constant media scrutiny in the United Kingdom and around the world up to and during her marriage, and after her subsequent divorce. Her sudden death in a car crash was followed by a spontaneous and prolonged show of public mourning. Contemporary responses to Diana's life and legacy have been mixed but a popular fascination with the Princess endures. The long awaited Coroner's Inquest concluded in April 2008 that Diana had been unlawfully killed by the driver and the following paparazzi.
In 1976 Lord Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of romantic novelist Barbara Cartland, after he was named as the "other party" in the Dartmouths' divorce. 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 to the Island of Seil off the west coast of Scotland. Diana, like her siblings, did not get along with her stepmother.
She was also a descendant of King James II of England through a daughter, Henrietta FitzJames. Henrietta's mother was Arabella Churchill, the sister of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, therefore she was related to all eleven Dukes of Marlborough. She was also related to Sir Winston Churchill. Other notable ancestors included Robert the Bruce; Mary Boleyn; Lady Catherine Grey; Maria de Salinas; John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater; and James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby.
The Spencers had been close to the British Royal Family for centuries, rising in royal favour during the 1600s. Diana's maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a long-time friend and a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
In August 2007, the New England Historic Genealogical Society published Richard K. Evans' The Ancestry of Diana, Princess of Wales, for Twelve Generations.
Diana moved to London before she turned seventeen. An apartment was purchased for her at Coleherne Court in the Earls Court area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and she lived there until 1981 with three flatmates.
The 20-year-old princess married at St Paul's Cathedral, which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey which was previously used for royal nuptials, on 29 July 1981 in what was widely billed as a "fairytale wedding" watched by a global television audience of 750 million. At the altar Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles' names saying Philip Charles Arthur George instead. The wedding started at 11:20 A.M. BST, and Diana wore a gown valued at £9000 with 25 foot train and the finest lace.
The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996.
Diana received a lump sum settlement of around £17 million along with a legal order preventing her from discussing the details.
Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued by Queen Elizabeth II containing general rules to regulate the titles of people who married into the Royal Family after divorce. In accordance with those rules, as she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales, and so had ceased to be a Royal by marriage, Diana lost the style, Her Royal Highness and instead was styled, Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day of the decree absolute of divorce was issued, announcing Diana's change of title.
Buckingham Palace stated that Diana was still officially a member of the Royal Family, since she was the mother of the second- and third-in-line to the throne. This was confirmed by the Deputy Coroner of the Queen’s Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, who after a pre-hearing on 8 January 2007 ruled that: "I am satisfied that at her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be considered as a member of the Royal Household." This appears to have been confirmed in the High Court judicial review matter of Al Fayed & Ors v Butler-Sloss. In that case, three High Court judges accepted submissions that the "very name ‘Coroner to the Queen’s Household’ gave the appearance of partiality in the context of inquests into the deaths of two people, one of whom was a member of the Royal Family and the other was not."
She publicly dated the respected heart surgeon from Pakistan, Hasnat Khan, who was called "the love of her life", for almost two years, before Khan ended the relationship due to cultural differences. She soon after began her relationship with Dodi Al-Fayed. These details were confirmed by witnesses at her inquest in November/December 2007.
After her divorce, Diana worked particularly for the Red Cross and campaigned to rid the world of land mines. Her work was on a humanitarian rather than a political level. She pursued her own interests in philanthropy, music, fashion and travel—although she still required royal consent to take her children on holiday or to represent the UK abroad. Without a holiday or weekend home, Diana spent most of her time in London, often without her sons, who were with Prince Charles or at boarding school.
In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual 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 world's opinion, and gave hope to people with AIDS.|20px|20px|Bill Clinton
She is believed to have influenced the signing, though only after her death, of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. Introducing the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill 1998 to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, paid tribute to Diana's work on landmines:
All Honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines. |20px|20px|Robin Cook
The United Nations appealed to the nations which produced and stockpiled the largest numbers of landmines (China, Japan, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States) to sign the Ottawa Treaty forbidding their production and use, for which Diana had campaigned. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that landmines remained "a deadly attraction for children, whose innate curiosity and need for play often lure them directly into harm's way".''
On 31 August 1997, Diana died after a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris along with Dodi Al-Fayed and the acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, Henri Paul, who was instructed to drive the hired Mercedes-Benz through Paris secretly eluding the paparazzi. Their black 1994 Mercedes-Benz S280 (registration no. 688 LTV 75) crashed into the thirteenth pillar of the tunnel. The two-lane tunnel was built without metal barriers in front of the pillars. None of the four occupants wore seat belts.
The paparazzi, who had been trailing the car, arrived at the Alma underpass at different stages. Serge Arnal, Christian Martinez and Stéphane Darmon appear to have arrived first, quickly followed by Serge Benhamou. Records supplied by mobile telephone operators Itinéris and SFR support Serge Arnal's claim that he attempted to call the emergency services. Film seized from the cameras of Christian Martinez and Serge Arnal showed that they were taking photographs of the car and/or the occupants almost immediately after arrival at the scene – there were no emergency services near the car visible in their photographs.
Blood analysis showed that Henri Paul was illegally intoxicated with alcohol while driving. He drove at high speed in order to evade the pursuing paparazzi. Tests showed he had consumed amounts of alcohol three times that of the French legal limit. Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who was in the passenger seat, was closest to the point of impact and yet he was the only survivor of the crash. Henri Paul and Dodi Fayed were killed instantly, and Diana—unbelted in the back seat- slid forward during the impact and, having been violently thrown around the interior, "submarined" under the seat in front of her, suffering serious damage to her heart with subsequent internal bleeding. She was eventually, after considerable time, transported by ambulance to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, but on the way she went into cardiac arrest twice. Despite lengthy resuscitation attempts, including internal cardiac massage, she died at 4 a.m. local time. Her funeral on 6 September 1997 was broadcast and watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide.
An eighteen-month French judicial investigation concluded in 1999 that the car crash that killed Diana was caused by Paul, who lost control of the car at high speed while intoxicated.
Since February 1998, Dodi's father, Mohamed Al-Fayed (the owner of the Hôtel Ritz, for which Paul worked) has claimed that the crash was a result of a conspiracy, and has since contended that the crash was orchestrated by MI6 on the instructions of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
An inquest headed by Lord Justice Scott Baker into the deaths of Diana and Dodi Fayed began at the Royal Courts of Justice, London on 2 October 2007 and was a continuation of the original inquest that began in 2004. A jury decided on 7 April 2008 that Diana had been unlawfully killed by the grossly negligent driving of chauffeur Henri Paul and press photographers. The following day Mr. Fayed announced he would end his 10 year campaign for the sake of the late Princess of Wales's children.
Diana's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997. The previous day, Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to her former daughter-in-law in a live television broadcast:
Since last Sunday's dreadful news we have seen, throughout Britain and around the world, an overwhelming expression of sadness at Diana's death. .... I want to pay tribute to Diana myself. She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness. I admired and respected her - for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys. ... No-one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death. I share in your determination to cherish her memory. |Queen Elizabeth II
The sudden and unexpected death of a very popular royal figure brought statements from senior figures worldwide and many tributes by members of the public. In reaction to the death people left public offerings of flowers, candles, cards and personal messages. By the 10th September, the pile of flowers outside Kensington Gardens was five foot deep in places and the bottom layer had started to compost. The same day, Fabio Piras, a Sardinian tourist, was given a one week prison sentence for having taken a teddy bear that a member of the public had put down among the flowers at St James's Palace as a tribute to Princess Diana (this was later reduced to a £100 fine, a reduction that led to him being punched in the face by a member of the public when he left the court.) The next day, Maria Rigociova, a 54-year-old secondary school teacher, and Agnesa Sihelska, a 50 year old communications technician, were each given a 28 day jail sentence for having taken eleven teddy bears and a number of flowers from the pile outside St. James' Palace in accordance with Slovakian funeral customs. This, too was later reduced to a fine (of £200 each) after they had spent two nights in jail.
The reaction to Diana's death was criticised at the time as being "hysterical", "credulous" and "irrational, criticisms that were repeated on the 10th anniversary, where Jonathon Friedland expressed the opinion that "It has become an embarrassing memory, like a mawkish, self-pitying teenage entry in a diary... we cringe to think about it.
Diana's funeral saw a widespread outpouring of grief at her passing. It was attended by all members of the royal family. Her sons, William and Harry, walked behind her casket along with their father, Prince Charles, and grandfather, Prince Philip together with Diana's brother, Earl Spencer. During the service, Elton John sang a new version of "Candle In The Wind", his hit song initially dedicated to Marilyn Monroe. The title of the remake version was changed to "Candle in the Wind 1997" and the lyrics to refer to Diana. The burial occurred privately, later the same day. The Prince of Wales, Diana's sons, her mother, siblings, a close friend, and a clergyman were present. Diana's remains had been dressed in a black long-sleeved dress designed by Catherine Walker; ironically she had chosen the dress a few weeks before. A set of rosary beads had been placed in her hands, a gift she received from Mother Teresa, who died the same week as Diana. Her grave is on an island within the grounds of Althorp Park, the Spencer family home.
The original plan was for Diana to be buried in the Spencer family vault at the local church in nearby Great Brington, but her younger brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, said that he was concerned about public safety and security and the onslaught of visitors that might overwhelm Great Brington. He decided that he wanted his older sister to be buried where her grave could be easily cared for and visited in privacy by her sons and other relations.
The island is in an ornamental lake known as The Round Oval within Althorp Park's gardens. A path with thirty-six oak trees, marking each year of her life, leads to the Oval. Four black swans swim in the lake, guarding the island. In the water there are water lilies, which, in addition to white roses, were Diana's favourite flowers.
On the southern verge of the Round Oval sits the Summerhouse, previously in the gardens of Admiralty House, London, and now adapted to serve as a memorial to Diana. An ancient arboretum stands nearby, which contains trees planted by Prince William and Prince Harry, other members of her family, and Diana herself.
Immediately after her death, many sites around the world became briefly ad hoc memorials to Diana, where the public left flowers and other tributes. The largest was outside the gates of Kensington Palace. Permanent memorials include:
In addition, there are two memorials inside Harrods department store, owned by Dodi Al-Fayed's father Mohamed Al-Fayed, in London. The first memorial consists of photos of the two behind a pyramid-shaped display that holds a wine glass still smudged with lipstick from Diana's last dinner as well as an 'engagement' ring Dodi purchased the day before they died. The second, unveiled in 2005 and titled "Innocent Victims", is a bronze statue of the two dancing on a beach beneath the wings of an albatross.
In 2003 the Franklin Mint countersued, and the case was eventually settled in 2004, with the fund agreeing to an out-of-court settlement, which was donated to mutually agreed charitable causes.
Today, pursuant to this lawsuit, two California companies remain and continue to sell Diana memorabilia with impunity and without the need for any permission from Diana's estate: the Franklin Mint and Princess Ring LLC.
Fresh controversy arose over the issue of these photographs when Britain's Channel 4 broadcast them during a documentary in June 2007.
1 July 2007 marked a concert held by her two sons celebrating the 46th anniversary of her birth. The concert was held at Wembley Stadium and featured many well known and popular acts on the bill.
In 2006 the results of an inquiry convened by Lord Stevens, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Operation Paget, was published and dismissed all allegations of conspiracy as without foundation.
On 2 October 2007 an inquest began into her death and was scheduled to last for at least six months. During his summing up at the inquest, the coroner stated: "The conspiracy theory advanced by Mohamed Al Fayed has been minutely examined and shown to be without any substance". The jury decided on 7 April 2008 that Diana had been unlawfully killed by the grossly negligent driving of chauffeur Henri Paul and paparazzi photographers.
An iconic presence on the world stage, Diana was noted for her sense of compassion, style, charisma, and high-profile charity work, yet her philanthropic endeavours were overshadowed by her difficult marriage to Prince Charles.
From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death after a car accident in 1997, Diana was one of the most famous women in the world—a pre-eminent celebrity of her generation. During her lifetime, she was often described as the world's most photographed woman. One biographer suggested that Diana was possibly suffering from Borderline personality disorder. Diana admitted to struggling with depression, and the eating disorder bulimia, which recurred throughout her adult life.
Royal biographer, Sarah Bradford commented, "The only cure for her (Diana's) suffering would have been the love of the Prince of Wales which she so passionately desired, something which would always be denied her. His was the final rejection; the way in which he consistently denigrated her reduced her to despair. Diana herself commented, "My husband made me feel inadequate in every possible way that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again ...
Posthumously, as in life, she is most popularly referred to as "Princess Diana", a title she never held. Still, she is sometimes referred to incorrectly in the media as "Lady Diana Spencer", or simply as "Lady Di". After Tony Blair's famous speech she is also referred to as the People's Princess.
Diana's full style, while married, was Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland.