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Princess Diana was born in 1961. She died in 1997.

About Princess Diana

By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor

Diana Frances Spencer was born at Park House, Sandringham in Norfolk, England on July 1 1961. She was the youngest daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer) and his first wife Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp. She was the fourth child born to her parents, with older sisters Sarah and Jane, although an infant brother had died a year before she was born. A couple years later they welcomed a younger brother, Charles, who would become heir to the Spencer titles and estates.

The Spencers had been close to the British Royal Family for centuries, rising in royal favour during the 1600s. Diana's maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a long-time friend of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her father had served as an equerry to King George VI and to Queen Elizabeth II.

Diana grew up in Park House, practically next door to the Queen. Park House is right next to the Royals' Sandringham estate. The Spencer children were no strangers to the princes. Closer in age to Diana than Prince Charles, Prince Andrew was her childhood playmate.
Diana was educated at home till the age of 9, went to boarding school Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk (age 9-12), and to the exclusive West Health Girls' School in Kent (age 12-16), where she was regarded as a poor student.

She failed all of her O-levels twice and later dropped out at the age of 16. She would pack her bags and try Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school in Switzerland, but also quit after a term. It was about this time when she first met Prince Charles, who was at that time dating her older sister, Lady Sarah.

Diana moved to London before she turned seventeen. She lived in her mother's flat, as her mother then was living most of the year in Scotland. Soon afterward an apartment was purchased by her father as an 18th birthday present in the Earls Court area of the Kensington and Chelsea. She lived there until 1981 with three flatmates.

She took an advanced cooking course at her mother's suggestion, although she never became an excellent cook. Diana worked first as a dance instructor for youth, until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work. She then got a job as a kindergarten assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and her friends, and worked as a hostess at parties.

Prince Charles had known Diana for several years, but he first took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980 when they were guests at a country weekend, while she watched him play polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes, aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Windsor family's Scottish home. Diana was well received at Balmoral by the Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother.

The couple then had several dates in London. Six months later, in February 1981, the prince proposed and Diana accepted. Personal accounts would say she was genuinely and desperately in love with the prince. Their engagement became official on the February 24, 1981, after Diana selected a large £30,000 ring from a platter. The couple then faced the press to announce their engagement.

Diana married Prince Charles in St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. She was 20; he was 32. Diana was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the British throne in 300 years.

There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral. Two million spectators lined the procession from Clarence House. Another 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide.

Diana wore a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with huge puffed sleeves and a frilly neckline. The dress was made of silk taffeta, decorated with lace, hand embroidery, sequins, and 10,000 pearls. It had a 25-foot train. Charles wore his full dress naval commander uniform.

On June 21, 1982, at St. Mary's Hospital, Diana gave birth to her first son, Prince William. He was the first heir to the British throne to be born in a hospital. Prince Harry was born on September 15, 1984. Although their marriage had already started hitting rocky patches, Diana considered her pregnancy time with Harry among their happiest as a couple. Charles had hoped for a girl, but was pleased with Harry.

Diana and Charles' marriage fell apart in the early 1990s. They had already been seeing less and less of each other for years, alternating between two royal residences - Kensington Palace in London, and their country home in Highgrove.

They kept the marital problems private at first, but after the media found out, it became a national scandal. She found him unsupportive and insensitive to her needs. He found her needy and emotionally unstable. Her bulimia started as early as the first year into the marriage. And, there were the affairs...The Prince and Princess of Wales were separated in December 1992. In December 1993, Diana announced her withdrawal from public life. Their divorce was finalized in 1996.

After her divorce, she focused her energy in several charities. Her causes usually involved the most disadvantaged and the forgotten.
In 1997, Princess Diana began a love affair with Dodi Al-Fayed, son of billionaire businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. In July 1997, Mohamed invited his son, Diana, William and Harry to a Mediterranean cruise on his luxury yacht. Dodi and Diana hit it off. They were both divorcees. A few weeks later, Diana and Dodi holidayed in St. Tropez. British photographers followed the couple to the south of France, photographing them canoodling and hugging on yacht decks and villa terraces.

On the 30th of August 1997, they flew to Paris and dined at the Ritz, which belongs to Dodi's father. Shortly after midnight, trying to evade the lurking paparazzi, the couple exited the hotel's back door and got into a Mercedes. Inside the car were driver Henri Paul and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones.

A group of photographers chased the Mercedes along Place de la Concorde, and into the tunnel Pont de l'Alma. Running at 180km/hr (speed limit was 80km), the intoxicated Henri Paul crashed the Mercedes into a tunnel post. None of the four occupants wore a seat belt. Dodi and Henri Paul died on the spot. Diana and the bodyguard were alive. A doctor who witnessed the crash came to give first aid, and an ambulance shortly arrived, but it took an hour before Diana could be pulled out of the wrecked car.

At 1:30am of August 31, Princess Diana was brought into La Pitié-Salpêtriére Hospital. They discovered she was bleeding massively internally and tried lengthy resuscitation attempts, including an internal cardiac massage. But, she was pronounced dead at 4:00am Paris time. The world woke up to the shocking news of Diana's death. She was 36 years old. Diana's funeral on September 6, 1997 was watched by millions worldwide. Over 1 million bouquets of flowers were laid at Buckingham Palace. She was laid to rest at her family home of Althorp.


About Cathy: She and her Doberman Trooper conduct research into all kinds of topics and produce articles like the one you see here. To contact Cathy, write to thecathyfactor@yahoo.com. Get the facts from Cathy, and let the Cathy Factor give you an edge.


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