Æèçíü ïðèíöåññû Äèàíû (1961-1997)
Æèçíü ïðèíöåññû Äèàíû (1961-1997)
AN EARL’S DAUGHTER
Diana Frances Spencer was not royal by
birth. She was born on 1 July 1961 at Park House on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She was the third daughter of the future viscount Althorp and Frances Ruth, who
was one of The Queen Mother’s ladies-in-waiting.
Diana had two elder sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a
younger brother, Charles; there was also a brother called John, born in 1960,
who survived only ten hours.
Diana spent her early children’s years in Sandringham, where she had home education. Her first teacher was Gertrude Allen, who taught
Diana’s mother. Life at Park House was orderly, traditional and aristocratic.
The Spencer children saw their parents only for an hour in the morning and at
tea time. When Diana was just six years old her parents separated and later
divorced, the children remaining with their father.
Diana continued her education in Sulfide, in private
school near the Kings Lynn, then in preparatory Ridlsuort School. When Diana
was 12 years old, she went to the privileged school for the girls in West Heath,
Her life changed a lot in 1975 when
Viscount Althorp becoming 8th Earl Spencer, and Diana becoming Lady
Diana, and they moved to the stately home at Althorp in Northamtonshire. The
following year Earl Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, whose mother
was the romantic novelist, Barbara Cartland. Diana went to a finishing school
in Switzerland, where she studied domestic science, typing and correspondence,
and found plenty of time to enjoy skiing.
LADY DIANA SPENCER
When Diana returned to Britain from Switzerland she lived in London, sharing apartment with old school friends. She moved
naturally in the society that was described by someone as ‘Sloane Rangers’, so
called because much of their leisure time was spend in the fashionable shops
and restaurants around Sloane Square. Diana became a nanny to a number of
children, and took a three-month cookery course, before joining the Young
England Kindergarten as a helper. She enjoyed the social whirl, attending
parties in the evenings and going to the country every weekend. Diana would
stay with friends, or occasionally go back to Althorp where she would visit her
sister Jane, and her husband Sir Robert Fellows, at their house on the estate.
Most of Diana’s circle of friends came
from similar backgrounds, and when her relationship with The Prince of Wales
began they automatically provided her protection. Once the media suspected Lady
Diana and Prince Charles’ new romance, press reporters and cameramen pursued
her relentlessly. They besieged her flat at Coleherne Court and followed her
everywhere. It was a very testing time for the young Diana.
Diana learned to keep her head down,
literally, becoming known as ‘Shy Di’. So the highly intensive media attention
which was to continue throughout her life began. But ones the engagement was
official, Diana moved into an apartment in Clarence House, home of the late
Queen Mother, where she would be under the protection of the Royal Press
A FAIRY-TALE BRIDE
The wedding of The Prince of Wales and
Lady Diana Spencer took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981, barely a
month after the Brides 20th birthday. It was a day of joy for
everyone: the bride and groom, their families and the millions of people
watching on television all over the world. The occasion was a combination of
pageantry, high emotion, formal ceremony and vociferous enthusiasm.
Diana was everyone’s idea of a
fairy-tail bride; her dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was a
triumph of ivory silk taffeta, hand embroidered with thousands of tiny
mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls, and with a 25-foot train trimmed with
sparking old lace. Diana wore the Spencer family tiara, and diamond earrings
borrowed from her mother.
She left Clarence House in the Glass
Coach accompanied by her father, to the thunderous cheers of the crowds lining
The Mall. At St Paul’s the groom was waiting, dressed in uniform of a royal
Navy commander, with a splendid blue sash of the Order of the Garter. Seated
behind him were the 2,650 guests who had been invited to the wedding, including
nearly all the crowned heads of Europe.
After the ceremony the couple returned
to Buckingham Palace in the 1902 State Landau, while vast crowds pressed
against the railings to catch a glimpse of the new Prince of Wales.
They left the Palace in a
balloon-bedecked carriage, starting their honeymoon at Broadlands, the
Hampshire home of the late Lord Mountbatten, then flying to Gibraltar to join
the Royal Yacht Britannia for a Mediterranean cruise, and finally joining the
Royal Family at Balmoral.
PRINCESS OF WALES
From the moment they were married, The
Prince and Princess of Wales became the focus of public attention to an extent
never before experienced in Britain, even by the Royal Family. They became the
most closely watched couple in the world, and while Prince Charles was used to
being in the spotlight, for Diana it was a new experience. She coped
impressively, and soon became the most photographed woman in the world.
Her early days as Princess of Wales
were not always easy. She was coming to grips with being a working member of
the Royal Family, finding ways to impress her own style upon her new homes at Kensington Palace and Highgrove, and also getting used to the idea that she was now public
property, with very little private life.
For one so young, Diana displayed an
extraordinary sense of duty, yet she insisted that her prime role in life was
to be a good mother to her children. When she and Prince Charles visited Australia in 1983 she refused to leave Prince William behind, saying she was not going to
be separated from her baby for such a long period and miss what she regarded as
one of the most important parts of his life. It showed that The Princess had a
mind of her own and was not prepared to be merely a pretty accessory.
A DEVOTED MOTHER
Diana’s natural role in life was
motherhood. She had always had a special affinity with children of all ages and
she never doubted for a moment that she was intended to be a mother. Speaking
about her children she once said, ‘They mean everything to me’ and later added,
‘I always feed my children love and affection — it’s so important’.
Although the royal marriage ended in
divorce there were many times when the couple enjoyed great happiness together.
One such time was at 9.03 p.m. on 21 June 1982, when Diana gave birth to her
first son, Prince William, in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Prince Charles broke with royal tradition by being present at the birth, and it was
also the first time that an heir-presumptive had been born in hospital. Both
Diana and Prince Charles were overjoyed.
They were affectionate parents and
Diana said she had found her true destiny. She was never happier than when she was
playing with William, whom she called Wills. Two years later, on 15 September
1984, Harry was born.
Off duty Diana would attempt to shrug
off the rigid controls of royal protocol and relax with her sons. She was
determined that, although they would never forget who they were, they should
have as normal an upbringing as possible. She took them to the cinema, letting
them choose the films they wanted to see, and introduced them to the delights
of fast food hamburger cafes, where she queued with other parents to serve
herself. She was a thoroughly modern mother who refused to allow her royal role
to interfere with the ordinary, every day joys of bringing up her children.
Diana turned up at the prices’ annual
sports day, kicked off her shoes and ran barefoot in the mothers’ race — which
the won, to her sons’ great delight. When the time came for Prince William to
go away to school, Diana expressed a very clear reference for Eton. It was near
enough to London that she could see him frequently, while allowing him to
become an ordinary boarder. Both she and Prince Charles insisted that he should
be treated the same way as the other pupils.
Diana impressed upon her sons their
connection with the principality whose name they shared, telling them never to
forget what they were: Prince William and Prince Harry of Wales. She took William on his first official visit to Wales — on St David’s Day 1991 — and later
took both boys to Cardiff to watch the Welsh rugby team in action.
She instilled in her sons her own sense
of public awareness from an early age, and showed them, at first hand, how the
underprivileged are forced to live by taking them with her to a Seamen’s Mission centre for the homeless. It was a salutary experience for the young princes, but
one which she felt was necessary in their ongoing training for their future
Diana will be remembered in many
different ways, but undoubtedly the most important legacy of her extraordinary
life is her two sons, William and Harry.
A SPECIAL TOUCH
As she freely admitted, Diana was not
an intellectual. But despite her lack of academic achievement she possessed a
quick wit and an understanding that enabled her to survive those early years
and adapt to her new role, while her empathy with the public prevented her from
being dismissed as merely a ‘walking clothes-horse’.
Diana believed that the monarchy
should be in touch with the people, and she won many hearts with her
spontaneity and genuine warmth. She was a tactile person who loved to give a
hug or a kiss, whether to a child in a Nigerian village or an old lady in a
British geriatric ward. People from all walks of life and of all ages
identified with her, for her sense of style as well as for the compassion she
showed to the sick and the suffering, and to those who had been the outcasts of
The public turned out in droves whenever
and wherever she appeared, and she always found time to stop and talk, often
delaying her official programme in order to chat with people who had waited
hours to see her.
It was her common touch, combined with
her grace and aristocracy, which made her so popular with the press. They
adored her, and followed her wherever she went, knowing that she would always
provide them with a winning picture
or story. She never let them down. Some of them whom she grew to trust, and took
into her confidence, became personal friends who would mourn her in death as
much as they had respected her in life.
PRINCESS OF STYLE
If ever a person could rightly claim to
be a one-woman fashion industry, that person mast have been Diana, Princess of
Wales. Almost single-handed she rejuvenated the British fashion scene,
practically from the moment she first stepped onto the royal stage.
Legions of women, from Japan to Jersey, faithfully copied her style down to the tiniest detail. When she appeared in a
‘Robin Hood’ type of hat in the early 80s, identical copies were bought in
their thousands, and when she, mischievously, wore a diamond necklace as a
headband, jewelers throughout the world were inundated the next day with
enquiries for replicas.
Diana never saw herself as a fashion
icon and she disliked the description, believing it detracted from more serious
side. She said she never followed fashion, only dressing ‘for the job in hand’.
It is true that she was not a follower but a trend-setter, and if she was set
up as an icon it was only because women so admired her innate sense of style
and her ability to choose what was right for her. She managed to combine a
modern look with the requirements of royal dignity and cool elegance. The
demands of her position necessitated a large wardrobe, and Diana was determined
to show the very best of British design and manufacture wherever she went on
her overseas tours, performing an extraordinary service for the fashion
industry and bringing a new glamorous image to the Royal Family.
She was not dressed exclusively by
British designers. Diana was often seen, in recent years, in outfits by
Christian Dior, John Galliano, Gianni Versace and Jacques Azagury, as well as
those she wore from Bruce Oldfield and Catherine Walker.
Diana was fascinated by showbusiness and
the arts and missed no opportunity to mix with stars of stage and screen.
Ballet was her first love, and as Patron of the English National Ballet she
played an active role in the organization, often turning up to watch rehearsals
and staying behind to talk with the dancers. She once wistfully remarked that
she would have loved to have been a ballet dancer but ‘at 5ft joins I’m too
tall’. So when she sprang a surprise Christmas present for Prince Charles in
1985 by dancing on stage with Wayne Sleep, she was also achieving a life-time
ambition. Some years later at a reception at the White House in Washington she partnered John Travolta on the dance floor and afterwards both said it was a
‘dream come true’.
It was Diana’s first change in
hairstyle that seemed to transform her the most. Just after the birth of Prince
Harry her pageboy hair-cut was replaced by a new style that was classic,
sophisticated and totally stunning. The Diana look had arrived; the
photographic image had been created.
In June 1997, responding to a suggestion
by Prince William, Diana assigned Christie’s to auction 79 of her dresses,
raising £1,960,150 for charity. They ranged from short cocktail dresses
to formal ball-gowns and included her favourite: a Victor Edelstein creation in
duchesse satin with matching bolero jacket, which sold for £54,436.
A MODERN PRINCESS
With the collapse of her marriage in 1992
— separation, followed in 1996 by divorce — Diana set out to find a new life
for herself as a single parent. She wanted to create an independent role
outside the Royal Family but, as the mother of a future King, she was never
completely able to shed her responsibilities, or her imagine throughout the
world as ‘Princess Di’.
She formed a number of unfortunate
relationships which were quickly terminated and she realized that unqualified
love and loyalty would come only from her sons. Diana worked hard at keeping
physically fit by visiting a gymnasium most days, and she sought the company of
people whom she believed would not try to exploit her.
She made many visits to the United States where her popularity never waned, and where she continued to be treated as
royalty. Americans saw her as both an innocent victim and a winner in the
divorce battle, and acclaimed her as a great survivor and the successful single
Once the publicity of the marriage
break-up had died down Diana began to working towards her goal, which was to be
taken seriously in her own right. She had discussions with political leaders,
such as President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and finally she achieved her
aim, talking a role of the international stage as an unofficial but highly
Her crusade for the world-wide banning
of landmines touched the public conscience in a way that nothing else had done.
She had picked on exactly the right subject at precisely the right moment.
A QUEEN OF HEARTS
At one time the Princess of Wales was involved with over a hundred charities, which she liked to call her ‘Family of
At the height of her working life, her
patronages included such disparate bodies as Barnardos, Birthright, and the
British Deaf Association (for whom she leant sign language), the Leprosy
Mission, the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, The Princess of Wales
Children’s Health Camp in Rotorua (New Zealand), Turning Point, Help the Aged,
Centrepoint, AIDS Crisis Trust and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick
When the accepted an invitation to
become patron of a charity, she became a tireless worker.
Turning Point was perhaps one of the
most unlikely groups for a member of the Royal Family to support. It was the
largest national voluntary organization providing help for men and woman with
drug and alcohol-related problems, and for people recovering from mental
illness. When Diana was asked to join them she agreed without hesitation, on
the condition that she was not to be merely another royal figurehead, but an
active participant in all their work. She raised the profile of Turning Point
dramatically and as their Chief Executive, Les Rudd, explained, ‘We have an
unpopular client group and without The Princess’s personal involvement we would
never have attracted the public’s sympathy to such an extent’.
Diana chose to become actively involved
with Centrepoint, a charity which concentrates on providing accommodation for
homeless young people who are considered to be at risk. She said ‘Nothing dives
me greater pleasure than to try to help the most vulnerable people in society’.
In 1993 Diana announced her retirement
from public life and relinquished her position with nearly all her charities.
She retained and handful which she continued to support and work for until the
day she died.
One of the most courageous and
important of Diana’s public appearances was undoubtedly when she decided to
open the first specialist AIDS ward in Britain. AIDS was, at the time, the
unmentionable disease and few people were prepared to be associated with its
care and treatment. The Princess sent shock waves throughout the world when she
shook hands with patients suffering from AIDS — and did so without wearing
gloves. By that single action she demonstrated that people had no need to fear
that the disease might be transmitted simply by touch. From that moment her
commitment to the cause was total; she helped raise millions of pounds and,
more importantly, she increased the public’s awareness and understanding at a
time when fear and prejudice were commonplace.
When Diana visited a leprosy hospital in
Jakarta, Indonesia and another in Nigeria, and comforted those suffering from
this most disfiguring of diseases, she never once flinched or drew away from
close contract. She said, ‘I’m trying to show in a simple action that they are
not reviled, nor we repulsed’.
It is difficult to overestimate the
impact that Diana made on the causes she espoused. As a fundraiser she was
unequalled; her presence at a function ensured that all the tickets would be
sold in hours.
She worked indefatigably for the Royal
Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund and insisted that part of the proceeds of the auction
of her dresses in New York should go to the hospital. The rest of the money
went to another of her favourite charities, AIDS Crisis Trust.
Diana’s concern for the dispossessed and
the under-privileged knew no national boundaries. Together with her friends
Imran and Jemima Khan she visited Pakistan to support their efforts in famine
relief; and after meeting Mother Teresa in New York, she traveled to India to see for herself the living conditions of some of the poorest people in the world.
But it was when she visited Angola and Bosnia that people realized how sound her instinct was. She had begun her campaign for
the banning of landmines without any official backing, but soon governments
around the world were responding to her call. In Bosnia she met and comforted
mutilated victims and bereaved widows and orphans with a sensitive
professionalism that showed clearly how much she understood the anguish all
around her. It was to be her last crusade.
When she was accused of interfering in
political issues, Diana replied, ‘I’m a humanitarian, I lead from the heart’.
Diana died in a car crash with Dodi Fayed on 31 of
August 1997, in Paris. Few events in Britain’s history have produced a sense of
national dismay and bewilderment that followed. People traveled for all parts
of the country to pay tribute to The Princess. Thousands of flowers were placed
at the gates of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, and people queued for
up to twelve hours to sign the books of condolence at St. James’s Palace.
The Queen appeared on television and spoke movingly of
her former daughter-in-law. ‘She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In
good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to
inspire others with her warmth and kindness’.
The funeral, described by Buckingham Palace as ‘a unique service for a unique person’, was an inspiring combination of traditional
ritual and informality. The coffin containing Diana’s body was carried on a
First World War gun-carriage drawn by six black horses and nine members of The
King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, and flanked by a bearer party of Welsh
Guardsmen. Thousands, many of whom had
camped out overnight in order to get a good position, watched silently, and
threw flowers into their path. As the cortege passed thought Wellington Arch
and down Constitution Hill, The Queen and three generations of the Royal Family
emerged from Buckingham Palace.
The Prince of Wales, Prince Philip, Prince William and
Prince Harry, together with Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, joined the cortege
and walked behind the coffin to Westminster Abbey. They were followed by a throng
of representatives of many of her charities.
The service was simple and dignified, with Diana’s
favourite hymns and poems read by her sisters. Diana’s brother gave a
penetrating and passionate address. The 2,000-strong congregation included
politicians, showbusiness celebrities, personal friends and representatives
from her charities.
For many the most poignant element of the ceremony was
the Princes’ wreath on the coffin: a small ring of white roses bearing the word
As the choir sang a haunting anthem the coffin was
carried away. At the door the procession stopped and an absolute silence
descended — a silence that was respected by millions throughout the world.
Diana’s body was laid to rest at Althorp, on a
peaceful and secluded island in the middle of a lake.
THE PEOPLE’S PRINCESS
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales unleashed an
expression of public feeling on an unprecedented scale. Nothing had prepared
the people for the shock of losing such a vital, beautiful young women who had
everything to live for. People of all ages had been able to identify with this
member of the Royal Family, as a glamorous leader of fashion, a dedicated
mother and more recently as the undisputed champion of the under-privileged,
the handicapped and the elderly. She did more than had ever been done before to
focus attention on what were previously unmentionable subjects, and the
practical and constructive way in which she displayed her compassion and
sympathy was a fine demonstration of modern royalty at work.
Diana was star quality, of that there was no doubt. She
became the most pursued woman in the world and gave the impression of enjoying
her celebrity status, even though she claimed not to understand why so many
people felt so affectionate towards her. Perhaps it was this very innocence
that made her so attractive. She occasionally gave the outward appearance of
being tough, and she herself said she would ‘fight like a tiger’ for what she
believed in. But another of the qualities that emerged was her vulnerability,
and it was this made so many people spring to her defence. She never lacked
friends to take her part and champion her cause, and there was never a shortage
of volunteers anxious to protect and cherish her. Much of her international
appeal came about because those who came into contract with her felt a natural
instinct to look after her, even when she protested that she did not need
Diana was always a woman who acted from the heart, and
the world loved her for it. She possessed a natural aura of accessibility, and
was never afraid to show her emotion. Ordinary men and woman felt they could
approach her without any fear of rebuttal; she positively encouraged people to
talk to her and touch her.
Diana has been described as one of the nation’s greatest
assets and her appearance was one of her most important attributes. Even when
her behaviour was unpredictable, she was forgiven because of her beauty and
Her most important role was raising her small family.
Everything else was secondary to the welfare of her sons and no one was ever
left in any doubt as to her priorities. William and Harry came first and in spite
of the pressures she lived under — that would not have change. She knew that
the encouragement and help she could give him. She was prepared to subjugate
her own ambitions to his happiness and security.
If Diana seemed to rebel against a protocol and
tradition that appeared to be stuffy and restrictive, it struck a chord with
young people, who felt she was striking a blow for them as well as for herself.
And when she comforted the sick, the maimed and the abused, those around her
knew that this was not an act, neither was she merely going though the routine
of a well-rehearsed and programmed public appearance. Although her duties were
necessarily choreographed down to the last detail, her concern was obviously
genuine and she managed to communicate her true feelings.
How will she be remembered and what were her most
significant achievements? It would be invidious to single out from her many
good works just one and name it as the most important. On the international
scene, if there is a successful conclusion to her landmines campaign, that
would be a fitting memorial; or if there is a breakthrough in the treatment of
AIDS or cancer. Perhaps her involvement in child care and famine relief will
result in greater public awareness.
Diana will be remembered as an inspirational woman who
once said she wanted to be known as a ‘Queen of Hearts’. Perhaps in death that
is exactly what she has become.
By Mother Teresa
see a bird in flight,
Or a baby's gentle smile.
The beauty that I see in them
Reminds me of your face.
The compassion and the caring
So softly chiseled there.
The love and understanding
Painted on by God's own hand.
Your face is a priceless treasure,
With a perfection of its own.
I look into your face
To see Love's own eyes
gazing back at me.
1990 - By me
Princess of Wales’ by Brian Hoey