Thursday 19 September 2019

In Pictures: The life of Princess Diana as 22nd anniversary is marked this weekend

Diana, Princess of Wales (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Diana, Princess of Wales (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Diana, Princess of Wales meets cartoon star Roger Rabbit and his co-star Bob Hoskins (PA)
Pavarotti with Princess Diana in 2003
Queen of revenge dressing: Diana’s iconic LBD moment was 25 years ago
Diana with William in 1994 (Martin Keene/PA)
Mammy’s little prince: Harry with his adoring mother Princess Diana in 1988
The late Princess Diana with a young Harry
Prince Charles with Diana, William and Harry in 1989
Prince Charles with Princess Diana in 1986

Laura Elston

Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash 22 years ago this weekend.

The ex-wife of heir to the throne Prince Charles, Diana is the mother of Princes William and Harry, now the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

Known for her humanitarian and charity work and her compassion, Diana brought a more touchy-feely approach to the royal family.

She championed causes such as the fight against landmines and changed attitudes to those diagnosed with HIV and Aids.

After her death, then-prime minister Tony Blair called her the "people's Princess", praising Diana for "the depth of her compassion and her humanity", and the nation mourned for the former royal whose common touch bridged social divides.

Her appeal began almost from the moment she appeared on the world stage as an awkward, shy teenager in the early 1980s, who was living in a London flat with her girlfriends and working in a kindergarten.

Diana, Princess of Wales meets cartoon star Roger Rabbit and his co-star Bob Hoskins (PA)
Diana, Princess of Wales meets cartoon star Roger Rabbit and his co-star Bob Hoskins (PA)

Although hailed as a "commoner" when she began dating Charles, Lady Diana Spencer was a member of the aristocracy, born into a privileged family that had close connections to the royals.

Her fairytale wedding on July 29 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral was watched by a television audience of hundreds of millions and turned the self-dubbed "Sloane Ranger" into a world superstar.

Pavarotti with Princess Diana in 2003
Pavarotti with Princess Diana in 2003

Diana wore a billowing Emanuel silk taffeta gown with 25ft train and kissed her prince on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Around 650,000 people gathered on the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom, and 750 million across the world watched the events on TV.

Queen of revenge dressing: Diana’s iconic LBD moment was 25 years ago
Queen of revenge dressing: Diana’s iconic LBD moment was 25 years ago

Diana became the most photographed woman on the planet, and was known for her fashion sense.

From polka dots and pussy-bow blouses to Dynasty-style shoulder pads, the princess inspired a generation of royals fans with her distinctive 1980s daywear and glamorous gowns.

Diana with William in 1994 (Martin Keene/PA)
Diana with William in 1994 (Martin Keene/PA)

Charles and Diana were regarded as the world's most romantic couple.

Yet even on their honeymoon, all was not well behind the scenes.

Mammy’s little prince: Harry with his adoring mother Princess Diana in 1988
Mammy’s little prince: Harry with his adoring mother Princess Diana in 1988

As they holidayed on the Royal Yacht Britannia, Diana was furious when she noticed Charles wearing a pair of gold cufflinks engraved with interwoven Cs - a present from his former flame Camilla Parker Bowles, and her fears grew that he was still in love with Camilla.

The young princess, who was only 20, found she had little in common with her philosophical 32-year-old husband, who liked painting, reading non-fiction essays, and hunting.

The late Princess Diana with a young Harry
The late Princess Diana with a young Harry

But the pair welcomed their first-born Prince William in 1982.

Their second child Harry - a spare to the heir - was born in 1984, and Diana was a devoted mother to her sons.

But by now the cracks in Charles and Diana's relationship were starting to show.

Prince Charles with Diana, William and Harry in 1989
Prince Charles with Diana, William and Harry in 1989
Prince Charles with Princess Diana in 1986
Prince Charles with Princess Diana in 1986

The princess found the palace courtiers unapproachable, and was overwhelmed by her role as a royal superstar.

She was fighting personal demons like her battle with bulimia, and was wracked by insecurities, doubting her own worth as a member of the royal family.

Charles had turned to Camilla, while Diana embarked on an affair with Major James Hewitt.

The marriage was effectively over by the end of the 1980s but the royal couple tried to keep up the public pretence.

However, the growing distance was clear to see, especially on royal tours - with Diana sitting alone at the monument to love, the Taj Mahal in India, and Charles attempting to kiss his wife but colliding with her ear at the Major James Hewitt.

A disastrous tour of South Korea by the ill-at-ease prince and princess took place in November 1992.

They were nicknamed The Glums and a month later it was announced they were separating.

Charles later confessed to an affair in an interview and book with Jonathan Dimbleby, and then Diana gave a Panorama television interview in which she said of her relationship with Charles "there were three of us in this marriage" and questioned his suitability as king.

It prompted the Queen to urge them to divorce, which they finally did in 1996.

Diana was stripped of her HRH title, becoming Diana, Princess of Wales instead, rather than HRH The Princess of Wales.

The princess had become known over the years for championing the disadvantaged, from those with Aids to the homeless.

She helped break the stigma surrounding Aids and HIV by shaking hands with a terminally ill patient and kissing him on the cheek at Mildmay Hospice in east London.

She supported homelessness charities, secretly taking William and Harry to shelters to make them aware of the problems faced.

In the wake of her divorce, Diana campaigned to outlaw landmines, visiting mine fields in Angola and travelling to Bosnia.

She was killed suddenly in a car crash on August 31 1997, when she was 36 - and when William and Harry were just 15 and 12.

The Mercedes she was travelling in with her lover Dodi Fayed was being pursued by paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel in Paris, when it crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, while being driven by chauffeur Henri Paul, who was drunk and driving too fast.

Diana's death triggered one of the monarchy's worst crises in modern history.

When the Queen initially remained at Balmoral to comfort her grandsons, the newspaper headlines screamed: "Show us you care" and "Where is our Queen? and "Where is her flag?".

The flag pole at Buckingham Palace had remained bare, as was the protocol, because the Queen was away in Scotland.

A sea of flowers was left at the gates of Diana's home, Kensington Palace, by shocked members of the public and hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in London on the day of the funeral.

A young William and Harry walked behind their mother's coffin as it proceeded through the streets on its way to Westminster Abbey.

Even years later, the impact of Diana's death is still being felt.

Harry, now the Duke of Sussex, revealed in the run up to the 20th anniversary how he came close to a breakdown after not speaking about the loss of his mother for many years.

PA Media

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