Princess of the People: Diana of Wales


Image via Library St. Tammany Parish

Lauren Kramer, Writer

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961, near Sandringham, England. Diana had five siblings named Sarah, Jane, John, and Charles; and another brother who died in infancy named John, who died a year before she was born. She was born into British nobility and grew up close to the royal family in their Sandringham estate. When Diana was seven, her parents divorced, and she was forced to live with her father who gained full custody of her and her siblings. Her mother promised that she would visit as soon as possible and Diana waited on her doorstep day after day, although her mother would never come back.

Diana experienced a very chaotic childhood and faced a rift between herself and her father. Her father almost immediately remarried after his divorce from Diana’s mother and didn’t tell his children or invite them to the wedding. She experienced a deep desire to have a stable relationship with her current siblings and her own future family and took the role of a mother from a young age.

When Diana was nine, in 1970, she was sent to a boarding school called Riddlesworth, and then three years later, she attended West Heath Boarding School for girls. Diana was not good at school subjects and failed her 0-level exams twice (equivalent to eleven years of school in America) before she dropped out of boarding school completely at the age of sixteen. During the time she was fourteen in these boarding schools, Diana’s grandfather died, which made her father an Earl. This title change made Diana even higher in the nobility ladder, making her become as close to true royalty without marrying or being born into the monarchy.

After dropping out of the boarding schools at the age of sixteen, Diana was sent to a Swiss finishing school for wealthy students at the age of seventeen. It was first there that she met Prince Charles for the first time, who at the time was currently dating her sister, Sarah.

When she was done with school, Diana intensely wanted to be a dancer for her future career. She was told she had the wrong body type, and that the only thing she could do in this field was to become a dance instructor. Diana wanted to be the dancer instead of the instructor, so she moved on to do other small jobs. She became a kindergarten teacher, and a maid on the side for her sister while she was living with her friends in London.

During her time back in London, Diana renewed her contacts with the royal family, and her friendship with Prince Charles grew. Prince Charles had since broken up with Diana’s sister, Sarah because she exposed his underage drinking and made it very clear that she would never marry the Prince to the press. Diana’s friendship with Prince Charles continued to grow and they eventually married in 1981, after only thirteen dates. Prince Charles was thirty-two years old while Diana was nineteen during the year of their marriage.

Her first child, Prince William, was born in 1982 at St. Mary’s Hospital during a sixteen-hour long delivery. Diana gave birth to William standing up and had a “natural” birth compared to previous princesses/queens who were put under anesthesia. Her second son, Prince Harry, was born in 1984 in the same hospital room as his older brother. Diana stood for his birth as well and is said to have been sucking on ice cubes to fight dehydration. The reason she stood during the birth of both of her children was to make it impossible for the doctors to put her under anesthesia, which was an order of the queen.

Even before Diana’s marriage with the Prince, Charles had been cheating and continued to cheat on Diana with a woman named Camilla Bowles. On top of their unstable marriage, after each birth of her two sons, Diana suffered from a growing post-pregnancy depression (PPD) that eventually led her to try to end her life five times. She was given the best possible treatment but didn’t have much support from the important people in her life, and she faced the pressure of the press.

Diana fought her depression by being a part of the community and visiting and helping fund different programs for the ill and poor. Some of these different programs included: efforts to help the sick and the poor, a Cancer fund, a London children’s hospital, The National AIDS Trust, the English National Ballet, and Centerpoint Soho (provided services to homeless youth). She also raised awareness worldwide for banning land mines.

Prince Charles didn’t necessarily want Diana in such a large spotlight because he wanted the type of wife that would stand by his side while he took the stage. Her involvement with these causes caused more disagreements in their relationship, even with Diana wanting to make things work with Charles. During this time, Prince Charles was still having an affair with Camilla Bowles. The rift between them continued to grow and caused their marriage to continue to fall apart.

Princess Diana began to have an affair in 1992 with an art dealer named Oliver Hoare. Oliver was a good friend of Prince Charles and had met Diana many times before through events and meetings. Diana began her affair with Oliver after the death of her father, and it ended when Oliver’s wife threatened divorce to Oliver if he didn’t stop the affair with Diana. Oliver was sixteen years older than the Princess, and to tell her the affair had ended, he sent Diana a box of her dead father’s cuff links that she had given him as a gift.

The same year, in 1992, Diana and Charles officially separated. The public already suspected that separation was going to happen due to rumors about them going on vacations separately and sleeping in different rooms. Four years later, in 1996, they officially divorced and Diana left the palace. She gave up the title “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne, but kept her apartments in Kensington Palace and her title “Princess of Wales”. She continued her role helping the public and continuing her work in the many causes she was involved in, and continued to be  “a queen in people’s hearts.”

On August 31, 1997, Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris. She was at an event with her companion, named Dodi Fayed, and the driver of her car. After an investigation by the French Police, it was concluded that the driver was heavily intoxicated. He was trying to avoid the mass of paparazzi that constantly followed Diana, and caused a crash that killed all three of them in the car. Diana was thirty-six years old when she died in the accident. Her son William was fifteen, and Harry was twelve when she passed away. After her death, Prince Charles married his mistress, Camilla Bowles.