Diana, Princess of Wales died on 31 August 1997 at the age of 36. As the wife of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne,
she was the most photographed woman in the world. IBTimes UK marks the 20th anniversary of her death by looking back at her life through 100 photos.
Diana Frances Spencer, born on 1 July 1961, became known as Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. When she first met Prince Charles in 1977, he was dating her older sister Lady Sarah, but Diana and Charles struck up a relationship in 1980. As their relationship developed, press speculation about a potential marriage grew, and photographers hounded Lady Di, following her from her Earl's Court flat to the Pimlico nursery school where she worked as a teacher's assistant.
(Left) 12 November 1980: Nineteen year-old Lady Diana Spencer, Prince Charles's girlfriend, leaves her flat at Coleherne Court in Earl's Court, London. (Right) 17 November 1980: Lady Diana Spencer is surrounded by photographers and journalists as she leaves her Earl's Court flat en route to her job as a teacher at a kindergarten in Pimlico
Charles proposed on 6 February 1981, but their engagement was kept secret until 24 February. Their wedding at St Paul's Cathedral on 29 July 1981 was watched by a global television audience of over 750 million people.
24 February 1981: Lady Diana Spencer reveals her sapphire and diamond engagement ring as she and Prince Charles pose for photos in the grounds of Buckingham Palace following the announcement of their engagement Tim Graham/Getty Images 11 June 1981: Lady Diana Spencer wears a ruffled Emanuel gown at a banquet for King Khalid of Saudi Arabia at Claridge's hotel in London Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
29 July 1981: (Left) Lady Diana wears a taffeta and lace wedding gown by David and Elizabeth Emanuel with a 25-foot-long train for her wedding to Prince Charles. (Right) Lady Diana stands with Prince Charles during their wedding at St Paul Cathedral in London 29 July 1981: The new Princess of Wales and her husband travel back to Buckingham Palace in an open carriage. She wears a wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and the Spencer family tiara Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images 29 July 1981: Prince Charles kisses his new bride Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. She wears a wedding dress by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and the Spencer family tiara Reuters
For the next 16 years, her every moment was lived in the spotlight, soundtracked by the click and whirr of a million cameras. Diana was the glittering princess at the centre of a royal soap opera played out in the glare of the media, making her the most recognised woman around the world.
On 21 June 1982, Diana gave Charles an heir,
William Arthur Philip Louis. A second son, Henry Charles Albert David, was born on 15 September 1984.
Diana travelled the world with her husband, the glamorous couple representing both a fairytale romance and the face of modern Britain. Diana hobnobbed with actors and New Romantic pop stars, blurring the line between celebrity and royalty.
2 February 1982: Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrive for a British Film Institute dinner at 11 Downing Street, the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. She was wearing a lace and velvet maternity gown by Bellville Sassoon Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 28 February 1982: The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at Westminster Abbey for a centenary service for the Royal College Of Music Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 4 March 1982: Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a red Bellville Sassoon maternity dress, attends the royal gala performance that opened the Barbican Arts Centre in London Hulton Archive/Getty Images 3 April 1982: A pregnant Diana, Princess of Wales attends Aintree racecourse for the Grand National Hulton Archive/Getty Images 4 August 1982: Princess Diana holds her baby son Prince William, while Prince Charles, Prince Philip, the Queen and the Queen Mother look on at Buckingham Palace after William's christening ceremony Reuters 1 February 1983: A portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales at her home in Kensington Palace, London Tim Graham/Getty Images 20 March 1983: Prince Charles, Princess Diana and baby William arrive in Alice Springs, Australia Reuters 21 March 1983: Prince Charles and Princess Diana pose at Uluru in Australia at sunset Reuters Circa June 1984: Princess Diana holds Prince William while pregnant with Prince Harry Kensington Palace/Reuters 21 December 1984: The Queen, Princess Diana and other members of the royal family laugh at the antics of young Prince William as his brother Harry is christened at Windsor Castle Anwar Hussein/Getty Images 15 June 1985: Prince William salutes as he watches the Trooping the Colour ceremony from the balcony of Buckingham Palace with his baby brother Harry and mother Princess Diana Roy Letkey/Reuters 13 July 1985: Princess Diana watches the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium, while Bob Geldof has a word with Prince Charles, and David Bowie chats with Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 8 September 1985: Prince Charles and Princess Diana attend the annual Braemar Highland Games in Ballater, Scotland Reuters 4 October 1985: Diana, Princess of Wales with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, at the piano in Kensington Palace Tim Graham/Getty Images 19 October 1985: Colour Sergeant Jones explains Princess Diana the controls of an armoured vehicle on her visit to Wavell Barracks, the base of the Royal Hampshire Regiment in Berlin Ulli Michel/Reuters 9 November 1985: US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy welcome Princess Diana and her husband Prince Charles to the White House in Washington, DC Don Rypka/AFP 9 November 1985: Princess Diana, wearing a Victor Edelstein gown, dances with John Travolta at a White House dinner Reuters 10 November 1985: Princess Diana tours Washington DC's National Gallery Chas Cancellare/Reuters 14 April 1986: Princess Diana wears a sequinned blue Catherine Walker gown for a gala at the Vienna Burgh Theatre during a visit to Austria Tim Graham/Getty Images 3 May 1986: Princess Diana accepts a bouquet of flowers during a walkabout at a civic centre in Kelowna, Canada Gary Hershorn/Reuters 6 May 1986: Princess Diana and Prince Charles visit Expo 86 in Vancouver. Shortly after this photo was taken, she fainted inside the California Pavilion, leading to speculation that she was pregnant again Mike Blake/Reuters 9 May 1986: Diana, Princess of Wales dons a kimono during her visit to the ancient city of Kyoto in Japan Jiji Press/AFP 14 July 1986: Prince Charles and Princess Diana hold their sons Prince William and Prince Harry in the wildflower meadow at Highgrove Tim Graham/Getty Images 23 July 1986: Prince Charles and Princess Diana ride in an open carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson Uli Michel/Reuters 23 July 1986: Princess Diana stands in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace as guests gather to say farewell to the newly-married Duke and Duchess of York in the carriage enclosure behind the window Rob Taggart/Reuters 9 November 1986: Princess Diana, Princess Anne and the Duchess of York attend a Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph Andre de Wet/Reuters 7 November 1987: Princess Diana and German First Lady Marianne von Weizsaecker pose together in the West German capital, Bonn Bill Creighton/Reuters 27 January 1988: Princess Diana visits the Footscray Park suburb of Melbourne during a visit to Australia Patrick Riviere/AFP 31 May 1988: Princess Diana observes a marriage conflict resolution seminar at a counselling centre in Battersea, London RR Auctions/Getty Images 11 June 1988: Prince Harry sticks his tongue out as he, Princess Diana and Prince William watch the Trooping the Colour ceremony from the balcony of Buckingham Palace Reuters 9 August 1988: Young Prince Harry tries to hide behind his mother during a photo session at Marivent Palace in Palma de Mallorca, where the Prince and Princess of Wales were holidaying as guests of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain Hugh Peralta/Reuters 11 November 1988: Princess Diana wears a Viv Knowlands veiled hat at The Armistice Commemoration Day at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France Reuters 17 March 1989: Princess Diana wears a Catherine Walker suit and a Philip Somerville turban hat in Dubai during her official tour of the United Arab Emirates Georges De Keerle/Getty Images 11 September 1989: Princess Diana stands with Prince William and Prince Harry on the steps of Wetherby School on her youngest son's first day Tim Graham/Getty Images 4 November 1989: Princess Diana shakes hands with a child during a visit to Sitanala leprosy hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia Dominic Wong/Reuters 5 November 1989: The Prince and Princess of Wales watch tribal dancers in Yogyakarta, Indonesia Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP 10 November 1989: Diana, Princess Of Wales wears the pearl and diamond Cambridge Lovers' Knot tiara (also called the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara), while at a function in Hong Kong Tim Graham/Getty Images 11 April 1990: Princess Diana is covered in sand by her son Prince William during a private beach holiday on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands Rob Taggart/Reuters 4 August 1990: The Queen, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret dress in vibrant floral designs for the celebrations of the Queen Mother's 90th birthday Tim Graham/Getty Images 10 April 1991: Princess Diana with sons William and Harry during a pre-Easter skiing break in Lech, Austria AFP 23 April 1991: Princess Diana wears a pink sequinned ivory crepe Catherine Walker gown to a banquet given by President Collor at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia while on a State visit to Brazil Getty Images 25 April 1991: Princess Diana shakes hands with an AIDS patient at the hospital of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro during a five-day official visit to Brazil with Prince Charles Vanderlei Almeida/Reuters 25 October 1991: Princess Diana and Prince Charles are pictured looking unhappy during a visit to Toronto, Canada Tim Graham/Getty Images
Rumours of infidelity began swirling in the early 90s as Prince Charles and Diana's marriage began to crack in public. Charles had been having a longstanding
extramarital affair with now-wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, and Diana later began an extra-marital relationship with Major James Hewitt that lasted five years.
By the early 90s it had become obvious to everybody: the marriage was over. The 1992 photo of the lonely princess at the Taj Mahal – the world's most famous monument to love – became not just the defining image of the royal tour of India, but also of the fairytale's unhappy ending.
They separated in December 1992. 11 February 1992: Diana, Princess of Wales sits alone in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra, in what became the defining image of the royal tour of India and, indeed, their failing marriage. She and Prince Charles had been expected to visit the monument together Tim Graham/Getty Images 12 February 1992: Princess Diana greets children during her visit to Tamana Arts and Crafts School in New Delhi, India Raveendran/AFP 15 February 1992: Diana, Princess of Wales talks to a patient at mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta during a six-day visit to India AFP 1 April 1992: The Prince and Princess of Wales arrive at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Great Brington, Northamptonshire, for the funeral of her father Earl Spencer Martyn Hayhow/AFP 12 May 1992: Princess Diana visits the great pyramid of Giza near Cairo while wearing a safari suit-inspired outfit AFP 13 May 1992: Princess Diana, walking barefoot and wearing a veil, visits to the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo Manoocher Deghati/AFP 3 November 1992: Princess Diana and Prince Charles look in different directions during a Korean War commemorative service in Seoul Reuters 5 November 1992: A tearful Princess Diana peers out the window of a plane on the tarmac in Hong Kong upon arrival from South Korea, where the royal couple spent an official four-day visit Thomas Cheng/AFP 15 November 1992: Diana, Princess of Wales, poses at the Quai dOrsay in Paris during a three-day visit in France Pierre Verdy/AFP 9 December 1992: The Princess of Wales returns to Kensington Palace after Prime Minister John Major announced that she and Prince Charles would separate, but not seek a divorce Thierry Saliou/AFP 4 January 1993: Princess Diana frolics in the surf during a holiday on the Caribbean island of St Kitts Reuters 10 March 1993: Princess Diana receives a kiss on the hand from trainee electrician Danny Walters, 29, during a walkabout in Southwark, south London AFP 30 May 1993: The Princess of Wales almost loses her hat as she and Prince Charles attend a service in Liverpool to mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. This was one of the first times the couple had been seen together in public since their separation Reuters 27 July 1993: The Princess of Wales is grabbed by children reaching through a barrier during a walkabout after she attended a conference on housing shortages in East Anglia Reuters 29 July 1993: Diana, Princess of Wales and her eight-year-old son Prince Harry inspect troops of the Light Regiment at their base of Bergen-Hohne in Germany Reuters 1 December 1993: Princess Diana, patron of the National AIDS Trust, chats with singer George Michael before the start of the Concert of Hope at Wembley Arena in London to mark World AIDS Day. To the immediate left of George Michael is kd lang and to the right Mick Hucknall of Simply Red Reuters 3 December 1993: The Princess of Wales announces that she will be making a dramatic cut in her public duties and reducing her public profile Johnny Eggitt/AFP 10 December 1993: The Princess of Wales meets with locals during a walkabout after visiting St Matthews Community Centre at the Elephant and Castle, south London Reuters 15 March 1994: Princess Diana leaves St Mary's hospital in London after visiting her brother's new-born baby boy, Louis Frederick John Spencer Reuters 29 June 1994: The Princess of Wales meets guests at the Serpentine gallery in Hyde Park Reuters 25 December 1994: Prince Charles, Princess Diana and their two children William and Harry leave the church of St Mary Magdalen near Sandringham after the Christmas Day service Reuters 17 March 1995: Diana, Princess of Wales meets South African President Nelson Mandela in Cape Town. He praised Diana for having influenced his government to ban the making of anti-personnel mines Reuters 7 May 1995: The Prince of Wales, Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry attend a ceremony in Hyde Park to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day Dylan Martinez/Reuters 19 August 1995: Princess Diana and and Prince Charles and their sons Harry and William watch the parade march past as part of the commemorations of VJ Day in London Johnny Eggitt/AFP 19 August 1995: Princess Diana and her son Harry watch veterans marching on the Mall as part of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of VJ Day Allan Lewis/AFP 6 September 1995: The Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Harry and housemaster Dr Andrew Gayley escort Prince William, second in line to the throne, for his first day of term at Eton College Reuters
In a televised interview with Martin Bashir in November 1995, Diana referred to her husband's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." Charles and Diana's divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. Many Britons were angered at how Diana was ostracised by the royal family after her divorce from Charles. Camilla became a particular focus of the public's anger.
After their divorce, Diana threw herself into charity work. While the royals have always been dutifully charitable, Diana was known for going beyond her in-laws (or ex-in-laws), or even any celebrity at the time, in her philanthropy.
Through simple but important acts such as
hugging people with AIDS or leprosy, she helped to change public perception of these diseases. She broke royal protocol by speaking openly about her own mental health issues and bulimia. In her final years, she campaigned for a worldwide ban on landmines despite opposition from the British government. 20 November 1995:The Princess of Wales is interviewed by the BBC's Martin Bashir for the current affairs programme Panorama BBC/Getty Images 22 February 1996: Diana, Princess of Wales sits in front of a British flag during a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan Reuters 22 February 1996: Diana, Princess of Wales and Jemima Khan, wife of Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan, attend a variety show in Lahore during a private visit to Pakistan to participate in the fund-raising campaign for Khan's cancer hospital Saeed Khan/AFP 16 April 1996: Diana, Princess of Wales cradles a young cancer patient at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan John Pryke/Reuters 6 June 1996: Princess Diana meets with John Collins, a 51-year-old lung cancer patient, while touring Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Hospice Palliative Care Unit in Chicago Sue Ogrocki/AFP 4 July 1996: Princess Diana smiles at the waiting crowds as she arrives for a charity event at London's Dorchester Hotel hosted by former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan Reuters 28 August 1996: Princess Diana, patron of the English National Ballet, visits their London headquarters, after the decree absolute was issued ending the 15-year marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales Reuters 24 September 1996: Princess Diana sits with US First Lady Hillary Clinton during a fund-raising breakfast held at the White House to benefit breast cancer research Jamal A Wilson/AFP 31 October 1996: Princess Diana reacts as she studies her gift of a cut glass bowl, which she received at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute dinner dance in Sydney, Australia Reuters 9 December 1996: Princess Diana arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to attend the Costume Institute gala, a tribute to the achievements of designer Christian Dior Reuters 13 January 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales talks to amputees during her visit to Angola as part of a Red Cross campaign against land mines Reuters 15 January 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales tours a minefield during her visit to Angola John Stillwell 3 June 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, arrives at the Royal Albert Hall in London for a gala performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet Reuters 17 June 1997: The Princess of Wales arrives at the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC to attend a gala dinner for landmine victims Reuters 18 June 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales holds hands with Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, as the two emerge after a brief meeting in the Bronx, New York Reuters 23 June 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a dress by Catherine Walker, arrives at Christie's auction house in New York ahead of a charity auction of her dresses Getty Images 22 July 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales and Elton John attend a memorial mass for the murdered Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace in Milan Cathedral Reuters 8 August 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales poses in the town of Olovo during a private visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina to highlight the plight of victims of landmines Reuters 10 August 1997: Diana, Princess of Wales comforts a woman during a visit to Sarajevo's Lion cemetery while on a three-day private visit to Bosnia to highlight the plight of landmine victims Reuters 15 August 1997: Passers-by stare as Princess Diana leaves a gym in London's Earls Court Reuters
In August 1997, Diana began seeing
Dodi al-Fayed, playboy son of Mohamed al-Fayed, the Egyptian-born owner of Harrods and the Ritz Hotel in Paris. After holidaying with Dodi in the south of France, the couple dined at the Ritz on the evening of 31 August.
The hotel's security manager Henri Paul drove the couple away from the Ritz at high speed,
pursued by paparazzi on motorbikes. As they entered the Pont de l'Alma tunnel, Paul lost control of the limousine, colliding with a pillar. Diana was rushed to a hospital but went into cardiac arrest and was declared dead at 4am. An inquest in 2008 determined that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed, and that the driver and paparazzi pursuing her shared the blame for the deaths.
22 August 1997: Diana Princess of Wales and Egyptian businessman Dodi al-Fayed cruise off the coast of Saint Tropez, the south of France Reuters
Her passing prompted the biggest public outpouring of grief seen in Britain in recent times. Her funeral on 6 September drew an estimated three million mourners at Westminster Abbey and along the route of the cortege. The worldwide audience watching it on television – in 200 countries and in 44 languages – has been estimated at 2.5 billion.
Over the last two decades, the anniversaries of her death have gone by with little fanfare, suggesting that the "People's Princess", as she was dubbed by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had perhaps lost some of her allure and relevance. But now – spurred by her sons Prince William and Harry speaking openly in public about their feelings about the sudden loss of their mother – the 20th anniversary has seen her on the front pages of newspapers again, just as she did in her prime as the world's most photographed woman.