Diana Spencer: A Once Private Life Turned Public


John Mathew Smith

Princess Diana on June 17, 1997 in Washington, D.C.

Emma Ritchie '25

Princess Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961. She was most well known for using her status as a celebrity for championing charitable causes and being the voice of underprivileged children. 

Although she was part of the British aristocracy, Diana’s early life was more private. Her father, John Spencer, was a personal aide to King George VI (as well as Queen Elizabeth II) and her mother was Frances Shand Kydd. Diana was educated at home until she was nine, and was later sent to Riddlesworth Hall and West Heath School. She dropped out of West Heath School at sixteen and attended a finishing school in Switzerland, Château d’Oex.

Diana met Charles, Prince of Wales (heir apparent to the British throne) in 1977 at a party. Their families had known each other for many years before their marriage. After six months of dating, they married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. Their wedding ceremony was globally televised, and seven hundred and fifty million people tuned in to watch. Diana was now “Diana, Princess of Wales”. Over the next three years, Diana and Charles had two sons, William and Harry. She was very close with her children and very protective of them.

Princess Diana was also well known for her elegant and graceful style. Her style was described as “way ahead of her time”. Oftentimes, she could be seen wearing brands like Dior and Versace. Diana was such a renowned Dior fan that the brand renamed one of its bags to “Lady Dior”. 

Not only was she a fashion icon, but Princess Diana was also extremely charitable. During her marriage, she was president/patron of over one hundred charities. She was an advocate for homeless people, disabled people, and children. Diana was also a campaigner for a ban on the manufacture and use of landmines. She did important work that made a significant difference in the lives of many, which is part of the reason she earned the nickname “people’s princess”. 

In 1992, It was made known that Diana and Charles had agreed to separate. Just a year before the official divorce in 1996, Diana gave a television interview where she stated that she was unhappy with her life and the pressures of her public role. 

On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris, France. The paparazzi (who followed her every move) were attempting to take photos of her with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. Diana’s driver was under the influence and speeding while trying to evade reporters.  He crashed into a pole and all perished.

 Princess Diana’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey, and two thousand people attended the funeral. An estimated two billion people viewed the event, proving that she was the people’s princess.