Princess Diana Biography

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961, to Lord Edward John Spencer (who later became the 8th Earl of Spender) and Frances Ruth Burke Roche in Norfolk, England.

Diana started school at Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School in Diss, Norfolk, when she was 5 years old.

When Diana was 8, her parents divorced, and her father took custody of her, her brother Charles and her sisters Jane and Sarah. The family moved to Althorp, the Spencer family estate in Northampton, according to

Diana finished school in Kent in 1977. Later that year, she attended a November hunting party, where she met Prince Charles for the first time through her sister, Sarah, who reportedly dated him years before.

That same year, Diana enrolled in finishing school at the Institut Alpin Vindemanette in Rougemont, Switzerland, for a year. Upon graduating, she moved into a flat in the South Kensington area and started work as a nanny at the Young England School in Piumlico, London.

The romance between Diana and Prince Charles ignited when the Spencers visited the Windsors during the summer at Balmoral Castle in 1980. The British press took a special interest in the pretty young nanny, staking out her apartment and following her in the streets.

At only 19 years old, Diana was presented with a white gold engagement ring with 14 diamonds and a sapphire by the 32-year-old Charles the following February.

On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles and Diana wed, marking the first time in 300 years a British heir to the throne married an English girl. Diana entered St. Paul’s Cathedral amid a crowd of 600,000 people in front of live television crews broadcasting to about 750 million viewers worldwide. The Archbishop of Canterbury said of the special ceremony, “Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”

Diana had her first child, William Arthur Philip Louis, almost a year later on June 21, 1982, in Paddington, London. Prince William accompanied Diana to Australia the next year on her first official visit to the country.

On Sept. 15, 1984, Prince Henry Charles Albert David, nicknamed Harry, was born also in Paddington.

Both of the boys came along to Italy for Diana and Charles’ official visit to Italy the following year. Diana then traveled on her own to Berlin to become the honorary colonel of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, a title she would hold until 1996.

Also in 1985, Diana started visited AIDS victims personally, shaking their hands even though many people unaware of the disease believed it could be contagious.

In October, Diana reportedly attempted suicide. She later made statements that she was desperate and unhappy in her marriage to Prince Charles at this time.

Putting her concerns over the marriage aside, Diana accompanied Charles on their first official visit to America, where they attended a high-society gala party at the White House hosted by President Ronald Reagan.

Diana opened the Landmark AIDS Center in southeast London in 1989, according to the BBC.

In 1990, Diana was voted “Best Dressed Woman” in a British magazine. By this time, she was separated from Charles, living in an apartment with her two boys.

“Diana, Her True Story,” written by Andrew Morton, was published in June 1992 as a series in the Sunday Times. The popular article immediately became a best-seller, as it entailed exclusive statements from Diana’s close friends about her struggling marriage, her bulimia and her several suicide attempts. Diana’s cooperation in the book was not revealed until after her death, according to

Two months later, British tabloid The Sun printed a transcript of a telephone conversation between Diana and her friend James Gilbey, alleging an affair between the two. Diana denied the affair.

Diana traveled to India in 1992, and press caught word at this time that the royal marriage was completely hopeless.

In November, the couple took a trip to Korea in what the press called a last chance to save the relationship. The trip apparently failed the test; on Dec. 9, 1992, the British prime minister announced the separation of Diana and Prince Charles. In that same month, Diana was voted “Most Beautiful Woman” in Britain by Woman magazine.

Only a month later, the Australian magazine New Idea printed a transcript of a six-minute telephone conversation that had taken place three years earlier between Charles and his alleged lover Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Charles' adultery was confirmed in June when he admitted in a TV interview that he was unfaithful to Diana at a point when he thought the marriage was over anyway.

In the fall of 1994, numerous telephone conversation transcripts were printed in British newspapers and magazines, pointing to affairs between Diana and a former bodyguard, James Hewitt. Hewitt revealed to the media details of their affair, and for his confessions he reportedly received over $555,000 in compensation.

Diana was awarded the Prize for Humanity by the Society for Brain Research in New York in 1995.

Later that year, she admitted to the affair with Hewitt on BBC TV, while also revealing her ongoing psychological troubles and insecurities throughout her marriage. In addition to details about her eating disorders and suicide attempts, Diana also said that she didn’t trust the royal family and doubted the Charles would ever be king.

In December, Queen Elizabeth II formally asked Charles and Diana to get a divorce. Charles agreed, but Diana put off the final decision until February.

The December issue of Harper’s Bazaar featured Diana on their cover that year, and she was voted by the Gallup-Institute as the Beauty queen of the last 50 years.

In July 1996, Diana and Charles officially divorced after 15 years of marriage. In August, Diana formally lost her title “Royal Highness,” but she was still allowed to call herself “Princess of Wales,” and she could still live in Kensington Palace and be a part of the royal family.

Diana received over $317,000 in a settlement from Charles, and the ex-couple was given joint-custody of William and Harry.

In 1996, Diana was presented the gold medal for her "social concern for those in need" in Rimini, Italy, according to

A year later, dubbed “Charity Queen” and “Queen of Hearts,” Diana visited Angola, where she voiced her opinion against the widespread use of landmines, met Mother Theresa in New York, flew with her sons to St. Tropez and visited Bosnia, where she fought landmines again with the Landmine Survivors Network, according to the BBC.

On Aug. 30, 1997, Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, whom she had been vacationing with in St. Tropez with her sons, went to dinner at the Ritz in the Place Vendome in Paris. The two left the restaurant just after midnight, and as the black Mercedes sedan headed through the Seine Tunnel near the Eiffel Tower, chauffeur Henri Paul crashed into a pillar of the tunnel.

Paul, whose blood tests reportedly showed that he was illegally intoxicated, died upon impact, along with Dodi.

Diana was rushed to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, after paparazzi snapped pictures of her being treated and taken away. Despite attempts to save her, Diana died at 4 a.m. from internal bleeding from massive damages to her heart.

That afternoon, Diana’s body was brought back to Great Britain by the Royal Squadron, where Tony Blair and other officials received the coffin and draped it with the royal flag.

The next day, the Queen announced the princess’ death to the world and the following day, the coffin, escorted by the Welsh Guard, was brought to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service.

At the funeral, on live television broadcast to about 2.5 million viewers, Elton John performed “Candle in the Wind,” and Diana’s younger brother, the Earl of Spencer, gave a tearful speech about his sister.

The BBC reported that Princess was finally buried with a set of rosary pearls she received from Mother Theresa on a small island in the middle of the lake on the Spencers' estate.

On July 1, 2007, Prince William and Prince Harry held a concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in memory of their mother on what would have been her 46th birthday.