Diana, Princess of Wales, would have celebrated her 59th Birthday on 1 July 2020, had she survived that tragic car crash in Paris 23 years ago.
John, 8th Earl Spencer and the Honourable Frances Ruth Roche’s youngest daughter, Diana Frances, was born at Park House on the Sandringham Estate on 1 July 1961 and baptised at St Mary Magdalene Church nearly two months later.
She has two older sisters, Lady Sarah and Lady Jane, and younger brother Charles, the present Earl Spencer.
Originally Diana was home-schooled with a governess before sent away to boarding school, followed by a term at a Swiss finishing school, Institut Alpin Videmanette, in Rougemont.
She was working as a nursery teacher’s assistant at the Young England School Pimlico when Buckingham Palace announced her engagement on 24 February 1981.
Meeting Prince Charles
Diana first met Prince Charles when he was going out with her sister Sarah in November 1977.
They met again as guests at a country weekend retreat during 1980 when Diana watched Prince Charles playing polo and invited her to Cowes for a sailing weekend.
Prince Charles then introduced Diana to his parents during a stay at Balmoral one weekend in November 1980 as their relationship progressed.
He proposed on 6 February 1981 with the public announcement made three weeks later.
A Fairytale Royal Wedding
Diana married Prince Charles in a magnificent ceremony, billed as a ‘fairytale wedding’ at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, instead of Westminster Abbey, with many royal relatives and Commonwealth representatives present.
Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowan and Lady Cowan represented Australia as it was a ‘state occasion’.
Over 750 million people across the world watched the wedding on television whilst huge crowds lined the streets in London to see the newlyweds.
Upon her marriage, she became the Princess of Wales although many people (and some media outlets) called her ‘Lady Di’ or ‘Princess Diana’.
They had two sons, Prince William (born 21 June 1982) and Prince Harry (born 15 September 1984).
However, Charles and Diana separated in 1992, followed by divorce in 1996.
Life After Divorce
Diana continued to live at Kensington Palace after her divorce and had a two-year relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, whom she described as ‘the love of her life’, followed by one with Dodi Fayed which some had regarded as a ‘holiday fling’ until her death on 31 August 1997.
Charity Work and Patronage
Diana was patron or president of over 100 charities, raising awareness of the homeless, disabled people, children, HIV/AIDS and dangers of landmines.
She became a style icon, often patronising and raising profiles of young British designers.
Official Visits To Australia
Diana was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Survey Corps from 1 July 1988 and resigned on 1 July 1996, following her divorce.
- 1983 – Diana and Charles, accompanied by Prince William, arrived in Alice Springs for their official visit from 26 October to 8 November.
- 1985 – The Prince and Princess of Wales also attended Victoria’s 150th-anniversary commemorations and Canberra.
- 1988 – Diana and Charles visited Sydney for huge Bicentenary Celebrations on 26 January.
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