Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 at Park House, the home
her parents rented on the royal family's estate at Sandringham. As a
child she occasionally played with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, who
were near her in age. Diana had two older sisters, Sarah and Jane, and
a younger brother, Charles.
When Diana was six, her mother left her father. The Spencers divorced
in 1969, and Diana's father received custody of the children. In 1975
Diana's father became the eighth Earl Spencer, making Diana a Lady.
Diana and her siblings moved to Althorp, the Spencer family estate in
Diana attended private boarding schools. Although she wasn't an
especially good student, she was excelled at sports, and won trophies
for her swimming. She dreamed of being a ballerina, but grew too tall
(as an adult she was 5'10"). After leaving school in 1978 she worked as
a nanny, waitress, and cleaning woman before becoming a teacher at the
Young England kindergarten in Pimlico, London.
Her romance with the Prince of Wales began in 1980. The oldest child of
British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, he was 12 years older than Diana,
and had previously dated her sister Sarah. Almost from the start, the
press took a special interest in "Lady Di." They staked out her
apartment and followed her everwhere. Diana later said that she found
the constant attention unbearable.
Diana and Charles were married July 29, 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral.
The wedding was broadcast in 74 countries and watched by 750 million
people worldwide. Diana was the first English woman to marry an heir to
the throne in over 300 years.
At the ceremony the Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Here is the stuff
of which fairy tales are made." But the fairy tale was an illusion, as
Diana had already discovered. Prince Charles was still in love with an
old girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles. "There were three of us in this
marriage, so it was a bit crowded," Princess Diana remarked years
later. Distraught, Diana developed bulimia and attempted suicide.
Despite her problems, she was a devoted mother to her two sons, Prince
William and Prince Harry. She worked tirelessly for charity, and was
beloved by the public for her warmth and humanity.
In 1992 Princess Diana decided to expose the truth about her
relationship with Prince Charles to the public. She secretly
collaborated with author Andrew Morton on his book Diana, Her True
Story. The princess's direct involvement in the writing of the book was
not revealed to the public until after her death.
The separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales was announced on
December 9, 1992. The divorce became official August 28, 1996. Princess
Diana kept the title Princess of Wales and continued to work for her
favorite charities. She and Prince Charles had joint custody of their
In 1997 Princess Diana began a love affair with Emad "Dodi" Fayed, the
son of billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. Their romance ended
abruptly on August 31, 1997 when both were killed in a car accident in
Paris while fleeing from paparazzi. Princess Diana's sudden death led
to an unprecedented worldwide outpouring of grief and love. As her
brother said at her funeral, she was "the unique, the complex, the
extraordinary and irreplacable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and
external, will never be extinguished from our minds."