The Life of Diana, Princess of Wales

The wedding of Lady Diana and the Prince of Wales was the love story of the decade. But the seemingly-perfect fairy-tale was destined not to have a storybook ending. The marriage broke down in acrimony and with revelations of infidelity on both sides. The couple's separation and divorce seriously damaged the monarchy itself. For Diana it was a painful process which led to depression - for which she claimed she got no support from the royal family.

Just as it seemed that Diana, Princess of Wales, had found new love, she died in a car crash on Sunday, August 31, 1997. The Princess's new friend, Mr Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the car, died in the accident as well; a bodyguard was seriously injured.

Childhood And Teenage Years

Diana as a Baby
Diana Frances Spencer, was born on July 1, 1961, at Park House near Sandringham, Norfolk. She was the youngest daughter of the then Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, now the late Earl Spencer and the Hon Mrs Shand-Kydd. She had two elder sisters, Jane and Sarah, and a younger brother, Charles.

The root of Diana's insecurity lay in her upbringing, despite its privileges. Her family was living on the Queen's estate at Sandringham where her father had rented Park House. He had been a royal equerry for both King George VI and the young Queen Elizabeth II.

The Wedding of Diana's parents
The wedding of Diana's parents was the social event of 1954
The Queen had been the chief guest when Diana's parents were married in 1954; the ceremony at Westminster Abbey was one of the social events of the year.

But Diana was only six when her parents split up. She would always remember the crunch of her mother's departing footsteps on the gravel drive. The children became pawns in a bitter custody dispute.

Diana as a child
The happy years of her childhood ended when she was six years old
Lady Diana was sent to boarding school, eventually attending West Heath Public School in Kent. Here she excelled at sport, particularly swimming, but she failed all her O levels. Nevertheless, in later years she recalled fond schoolday memories, and supported her old school.

After school, she worked in London, first as a nanny, occasionally a cook, and then as an assistant at the Young England kindergarten in Knightsbridge.

Diana when she was a kindergarden teacher
Diana as a kindergarten teacher
Her father had moved to Althorpe near Northampton on becoming the eighth Earl Spencer. Her parents had divorced and there was a new Countess Spencer, daughter of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland. But soon it was Diana who was to become the celebrated member of the family.

Diana and Charles are engaged
Diana and Charles announce their engagement
Rumours spread that her friendship with the Prince of Wales was blossoming into something more serious. Press and television besieged her at every turn. But her days at work were numbered. The Palace tried in vain to play down the speculation. And on February 24, 1981 the engagement became official.

However, there were doubts even then about whether they were really compatible. They appeared to have little in common, and there was the age difference: the Prince was 13 years older than Diana. When journalists asked them during the official engagement photo call whether they were in love, both answered "yes" - with the Prince adding "whatever love means". Charles, it emerged later, had confided to a friend that he did not yet love Diana but was sure he could.