Celebrity Princess Diana
Her Royal Wedding, Life and Death
The People's Princess, Mother of Kings, Celebrity Darling, Benefactor of Charities,
Lived her Brief Life like a Candle in the Wind.
Diana Spencer, Princess Diana
Diana’s story is not a Cinderella story.
Far from it. She was born July 1, 1961, the third child of Johnnie and Frances Spencer. Their children were born between 1955 and 1964, three girls and one boy, Sarah, Jane, Diana, and Charles. The children remained close despite the bitter divorce of her parents when Diana was six. Her childhood home, Park House, was near the North Sea and was next door to Sandringham, the country home of the royal family. She remembers playing hide and seek with Prince Andrew, who was one year older, and with his mother, the Queen.
The Early Life of Celebrity Princess Diana
The Spencer family proudly traced their lineage
through history. Her father was the eighth Earl of Spencer, inheriting both the title and the family estate Althorp. Her father had the same charisma and people skills that Diana displayed in her married life, when she had a knack for being the life and soul of a party.
Her mother Frances Roche was the daughter of the fourth Baron Fermoy. The family money came from the marriage of Diana’s maternal grandfather to a wealthy American, Frances Work, daughter of a Wall Street broker.
For three years she attended
a nearby day school, Silfield private school with forty pupils. The headmistress remembered her kindness to younger children, her love of animals and general helpfulness. Then at age nine, she went to boarding school for three years at Riddlesworth Hall. She won prizes for “best guinea pig” and “helpfulness” but no academic awards. Then, from age 12 to 16, she attended West Heath, another country manor school, where she took lessons in piano, ballet and ballroom dance. She received awards for dance, swimming, diving and service. Possibly because she lacked motivation, possibly because she was never encouraged, she failed her exams twice at West Heath and flunked out of school at the age of sixteen. Afterward, she spent a few months at a Swiss finishing school. That was the end of her formal education.
Shy, a daddy’s girl and her father’s favorite,
raised by nannies in her father’s house, Diane was a sensitive child. They say she was traumatized by her parents' divorce, and hostile to her father’s second wife Raine, the wealthy Lady Dartmouth. The children found out about their father’s marriage to Raine in the newspaper. The children were already publicity savvy, and began telephoning the press with unflattering stories about Raine.
Diana Meets Prince Charles
Her older sister Sarah dated Prince Charles
for a while, until Sarah gossiped about him in magazine interviews. At the 30th birthday dinner dance for Charles, Diana and Charles became interested in each other. Still shy and unremarkable, she lived with three girlfriends in a flat her mother paid for, while she took low-paying jobs doing childcare and housework. She enchanted several young men, but never got serious. Later on, she said she was keeping herself “tidy” for someone special.
Diana and Royal Life at Buckingham Palace
So, virginal and deeply in love,
she accepted the proposal of the prince, a much older man, one who proposed to her out of a sense of duty to continue the royal lineage. Unbeknownst to Diana, Charles had a long-standing and deep-rooted affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, a woman whom he was forbidden to marry. In other ways, too, the couple was not well suited. Charles preferred solitude, hunting, riding and polo. Raised as heir to the throne, he was self-centered, indulged, awkward, thoughtless and inconsiderate of others.
To escape the media
and to prepare for her new life, she began living the highly structured, formal life at Buckingham Palace. Frequently ignored by Charles, she made the staff and servants her friends. She had a great desire to please, and to do everything right. Although she was not overweight, Charles and the staff referred to her as chubby, which possibly triggered her later episodes of bulimia. The week before the marriage, she discovered a bracelet that Charles intended to give Camilla, and realized that she had a rival for him. “You can’t back out,” her friends told her. “Your face is already on the tea towels,” referring to the souvenirs for sale in the shops.
Celebrity Princess Diana's Married Life and Children
Their fairy-tale wedding,
with all its pomp and splendor televised around the world, took place July 29, 1981 when she was 20 and Charles was 33. Within a year, Prince William was born, insuring the royal lineage. Harry was born two years later. Princess Diana’s life revolved around the children. She wanted to prepare them to become modern, enlightened rulers. Diana was confident in her role as mother. She took personal interest in their education and playmates, took them to school and picked them up, protected them from the intrusive press, determined that they should have a normal life.
She groomed her sons
for a modern monarchy, one that understands the lives of ordinary people. William accompanied her on her charitable works, meeting the poor and sickly. As a result of her care, the children gained a wiser and more sympathetic knowledge of the world outside the castle walls.
When Sarah Ferguson,
the red-haired, vivacious commoner, married Prince Andrew, the two women became friendly celebrities and planned outings together. It was Fergie who introduced Diana to the therapists, astrologers, psychics and healers from whom Diana drew confidence.
She undertook the business of being Princess of Wales
seriously, dealing with the paperwork, the correspondence and obligations in an organized and prompt way, unlike her royal spouse, who was famous for avoiding these tasks. She had a significant impact on the monarchy, bringing it into modern life.
Princess Diana's Royal Marriage Breaks Down
Meanwhile, the royal staff
and the powerful social set took sides against Diana in support of Camilla. They criticized Princess Diana, gossiped, called her paranoid and temperamental, leaked news to the media, and misled Charles by encouraging his complaints and his insularity. Diana was subject to bulimia, fits of crying, and depression. Finding out that Camilla took on the role of hostess at Highgrove, whenever Charles was there without Diana, widened the royal estrangement. When Diana finally realized that she could not keep Charles from his mistress, she looked for affection in other quarters. Eventually, Diana launched a romantic affair with James Hewitt, a Guards officer who oversaw the stables and gave her riding lessons.
The public was infatuated with the celebrity Princess.
At her appearances, the crowds and media surged around her and she sometimes deliberately upstaged Charles. There was always a media buzz about her appearances, her glamour, her clothes and her opinions. Magazines around the world featured her on the covers. Her personal appeal, the combination of vulnerability and authority, brought her lasting celebrity. Many people identified with her as a mistreated wife and a victim of the monarchy. Charles became jealous of Diana’s growing popularity with the public.
In some ways, the news media
that created the celebrity and the royal fairy-tale also destroyed it. Every detail of their falling-out was publicized in the tabloids. Their letters written to lovers were printed in the press. Taped telephone conversations became public. Diana provided author Andrew Morton with the insider details he used in his sympathetic biography, Diana: Her True Story
. First Charles and then Diana gave television interviews in which they confirmed their extramarital affairs. Finally, on August 28,1996, with the approval of the queen, the royal marriage of 15 years ended in divorce.
The Death of Princess Diana
Even as a single mother, fame and celebrity
pursued Diana. She continued her charitable work, all the while searching for a loving relationship with a man who could handle the media madness. Her search led her to Dodi Fayed, playboy son of Al Fayed, an Egyptian businessman with Saudi oil connections. Fayed was an Anglophile hoping to be accepted in English society, who had bought Harrods and other English properties. Diana and Dodi had dinner at the Paris Ritz Hotel, which Fayed also owned. To defeat the paparazzi who stalked and hunted them, Dodi made a change of plans, and ordered a Mercedes limousine to take them secretly to his apartment. The paparazzi followed in pursuit of their car. Their driver was speeding and drunk, with blood alcohol level at 3 times the legal limit. No one was wearing seatbelts. Their Mercedes brushed a slower Fiat and spun out of control into a concrete pillar. Diane suffered grave internal injuries, and was conscious long enough to send a final message to her children. She was pronounced dead at the hospital, August 31, 1997, at the age of 36.
Her funeral in England
was the occasion of a great outpouring of public grief and affection for “the people’s princess.” In a demonstration of British emotion, the grounds at Kensington Palace were blanketed with flowers for Diana. Five men, Phillip, Charles, William, Harry and her brother Charles followed the casket on the funeral route to Westminster Abbey, where dignitaries from around the world were assembled for the funeral. Diana was buried on a small island at the Spencer family estate at Althorp.
Princess Diana, the Enduring Legacy of Her life
Throughout her married life and after the divorce, Princess Diana took her charitable works to heart. She used her celebrity and press coverage to benefit organizations and causes that were dear to her. She was deeply influenced by the good works of Mother Theresa, whom she met. With her magic, her charisma and her caring, she brought happiness to everyone she met, the powerful and the commoner. Her beauty and her charm cast a spell on crowds who wanted a glimpse of her. In the course of her work, Princess Diana was pictured shaking hands with AIDS victims, cancer patients, and those wounded by land mine explosions. What people commented on is that Diana was just as concerned and dedicated when there were no photographers around. Charming, photogenic, sincerely
dedicated to her work, genuine and caring with people, she became, in the mind of the public, something more than a mother of kings. In her wedding, in life and in death, Princess Diana became a beloved icon in the manner of Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe or Evita Peron, and then surpassed them all.
I hope life brings you much success.
I wish you a very happy day.
Return to the complete index of new blogs.