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You are in: Northamptonshire » A Sense Of Place

July, 2003
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Image of Diana, Princess of Wales Diana, Princess of Wales
1961 - 1997

Video availableDiana's funeral cortege arrives at Althorp (Real 56k, 5'10")

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1 July 1961: Diana born
29 July 1981: Charles & Lady Di marry
21 June 1982: Prince William born
15 September 1984: Prince Harry born
8 June 1989: Diana is made an Honorary Freeman of Northampton
16 June 1992: 'Diana: Her True Story' is published.
20 November 1995: Diana appears on Panorama
28 August 1996: Charles & Diana are divorced
31 August 1997: Diana dies after a car crash in Paris.
6 September 1997: Diana is laid to rest at Althorp, Northamptonshire


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Diana, Princess of Wales must be Northamptonshire's most famous daughter. During her lifetime she was probably the most famous woman on the planet - she was feted around the world and the media charted her every move.

It was seen as a fairy-tale come true when the shy English rose married the heir to the throne and became the Princess of Wales. But illusions were shattered when acrimony led to divorce, and then tragedy. There was unprecedented mourning across the world as people tried to come to terms with the sudden, cruel death - in a car crash - of a much-loved woman. Diana was laid to rest in Northamptonshire, in the grounds of her Spencer family estate.

The Spencer Family
The Spencers were farmers during the 15th Century. John Spencer became a tenant at Althorp in 1486. Over the generations, the family's fortune and influence increased, with close links to successive monarchs. In 1765, the first Earl Spencer was created. The present Earl Spencer (the 9th) is Diana's brother and inherited the title on the death of their father in April, 1992.

Troubled childhood

Diana Frances Spencer was actually born in Norfolk, not Northamptonshire. She was the youngest daughter of the then Viscount and Viscountess Althorp.

When Diana was six her parents split up. She and her elder sisters, Jane and Sarah, and her younger brother Charles, became pawns in a bitter custody battle.

After boarding school in Kent, Diana had jobs as a nanny, cook and kindergarten assistant.

When her father became the eighth Earl Spencer, he moved to Althorp with his new wife, Countess Spencer (daughter of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland).

'Fairy tale' wedding

Image of Charles & Diana kissing on their wedding day
The 'wedding of the Century'

Diana married Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales in July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral. Six hundred thousand people lined the route and millions around the world watched the 'Wedding of the Century' on TV. Prince William was born in 1982, and Prince Harry in 1984 - the so called 'heir and spare'.

Working Royal

The Princess adopted the official duties of the Royal Family. But unlike other Royals, she was seen as having the 'common touch'. She had a spontaneity and charm that the public warmed to.

The press photographers loved her and her face adorned newspaper and magazine covers across the world. The Princess's extravagant array of designer outfits were admired and copied.

But Diana was more than a clothes horse. Through her charity work she publicised causes such as AIDS and leprosy.

In 1989, Charles & Diana made an official visit to Northampton. Diana was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.

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