Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; née Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II.
Diana was born into a family of British nobility with royal ancestry and was the fourth child and third daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and the Honourable Frances Roche. She grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate, and was educated in England and Switzerland. In 1975, after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer, she became known as Lady Diana Spencer. She came to prominence in February 1981 when her engagement to Prince Charles was announced.
Her wedding to the Prince of Wales was held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981 and reached a global television audience of over 750 million people. During her marriage, Diana was Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, and Countess of Chester. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William and Harry, who were then respectively second and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As Princess of Wales, Diana undertook royal duties on behalf of the Queen and represented her at functions overseas. She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She was involved with dozens of charities including London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989.
Diana remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. Media attention and public mourning were extensive after her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997 and subsequent televised funeral.
Diana Frances Spencer was born on 1 July 1961, in Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk. She was the fourth of five children of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (1924–1992), and his first wife, Frances (née Roche; 1936–2004). The Spencer family has been closely allied with the British Royal Family for several generations. Both of Diana’s grandmothers had served as ladies-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The Spencers were hoping for a boy to carry on the family line, and no name was chosen for a week, until they settled on Diana Frances, after her mother and Diana Russell, Duchess of Bedford, her distant relative who was also known as “Lady Diana Spencer” before marriage and was a prospective Princess of Wales. On 30 August 1961, Diana was baptised at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham, with wealthy commoners as godparents. Diana had three siblings: Sarah, Jane, and Charles. Her infant brother, John, died shortly after his birth one year before Diana was born. The desire for an heir added strain to the Spencers’ marriage, and Lady Althorp was reportedly sent to Harley Street clinics in London to determine the cause of the “problem”. The experience was described as “humiliating” by Diana’s younger brother, Charles: “It was a dreadful time for my parents and probably the root of their divorce because I don’t think they ever got over it.” Diana grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate. The Spencers leased the house from its owner, Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Family frequently holidayed at the neighbouring Sandringham House, and Diana played with Princes Andrew and Edward as a child.
Diana was seven years old when her parents divorced. Her mother later had an affair with Peter Shand Kydd and married him in 1969. Diana lived with her mother in London during her parents’ separation in 1967, but during that year’s Christmas holidays, Lord Althorp refused to let Diana return to London with Lady Althorp. Shortly afterwards he won custody of Diana with support from his former mother-in-law, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy. In 1972, Lord Althorp began a relationship with Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and Dame Barbara Cartland. They married at Caxton Hall, London in 1976. Diana became known as Lady Diana after her father later inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975, at which point her father moved the entire family from Park House to Althorp, the Spencer seat in Northampton.
Diana was first educated under the supervision of her governess, Gertrude Allen. She began her formal education at Silfield Private School in Gayton, Norfolk, and moved to Riddlesworth Hall School, an all-girls boarding school near Diss, when she was nine. She joined her sisters at West Heath Girls’ School in Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1973. She did not shine academically, failing her O-levels twice. Her outstanding community spirit was recognised with an award from West Heath. She left West Heath when she was sixteen. Her brother Charles recalls her as being quite shy up until that time. She showed a talent for music as an accomplished pianist. Diana also excelled in swimming and diving, and studied ballet and tap dance.
After attending Institut Alpin Videmanette, a finishing school in Rougemont, Switzerland, for one term in 1978, Diana returned to London, where she shared her mother’s flat with two school friends. In London, she took an advanced cooking course, but seldom cooked for her roommates. She took a series of low-paying jobs; she worked as a dance instructor for youth until a skiing accident caused her to miss three months of work. She then found employment as a playgroup pre-school assistant, did some cleaning work for her sister Sarah and several of her friends, and acted as a hostess at parties. Diana spent time working as a nanny for the Robertsons, an American family living in London, and worked as a nursery teacher’s assistant at the Young England School in Pimlico. In July 1979, her mother bought her a flat at Coleherne Court in Earl’s Court as an 18th birthday present. She lived there with three flatmates until 25 February 1981.
Diana first met Charles, Prince of Wales, in November 1977 when he was dating her older sister, Lady Sarah. When they were guests at a country weekend during the summer of 1980, she watched him play polo and he took a serious interest in Diana as a potential bride. The relationship developed when he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht Britannia. This was followed by an invitation to Balmoral (the Royal Family’s Scottish residence) to meet his family a weekend in November 1980. Lady Diana was well received by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple subsequently courted in London. The Prince proposed on 6 February 1981, and Lady Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.
Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981. Diana selected a large engagement ring consisting of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-carat white gold, similar to her mother’s engagement ring. The ring was made by the then Crown jewellers Garrard but, unusually for a ring for a member of the Royal Family, it was not unique; it was featured in Garrard’s jewellery collection. In 2010 the ring became the engagement ring of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. It was copied by jewellers all over the world. The Queen Mother gave Diana a sapphire and diamond brooch as an engagement present.
Following the engagement, Diana left her job as a kindergarten teacher and lived for a short period at Clarence House, then the home of the Queen Mother. She then lived at Buckingham Palace until the wedding. Diana was the first Englishwoman to become the spouse of an heir apparent in 300 years, and she was also the first royal bride to have a paying job before her engagement. Her first public appearance with Prince Charles was in a charity ball in March 1981 at Goldsmiths’ Hall, where she met the Princess of Monaco.
Twenty-year-old Diana became Princess of Wales when she married the Prince of Wales on 29 July 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral, which offered more seating than Westminster Abbey, generally used for royal nuptials. Widely described as a “fairytale wedding”, the service was watched by a global television audience of 750 million people while 600,000 spectators lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple en route to the ceremony. At the altar, Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles’s first two names, saying “Philip Charles” Arthur George instead. She did not say that she would “obey” him; that traditional vow was left out at the couple’s request, which caused some comment at the time. Diana wore a dress valued at £9,000 with a 25-foot (7.62-metre) train. Music and songs used during the wedding included the “Prince of Denmark’s March”, “I Vow to Thee, My Country”, “Pomp and Circumstance No.4”, and “God Save the Queen”.
After becoming Princess of Wales, Diana automatically acquired rank as the third-highest female in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence (after the Queen and the Queen Mother), and was fifth or sixth in the orders of precedence of her other realms, following the Queen, the relevant viceroy, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, and the Prince of Wales. Within a few years of the wedding, the Queen extended Diana visible tokens of membership in the Royal Family; she lent the Princess the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, and granted her the badge of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.
The couple made their homes at Kensington Palace and at Highgrove House, near Tetbury. On 5 November 1981, the Princess’s pregnancy was officially announced. After Diana fell down a staircase at Sandringham in January 1982, 12 weeks into the pregnancy, the royal gynaecologist Sir George Pinker was summoned from London. He found that although she had suffered severe bruising, the fetus was uninjured. In the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, on 21 June 1982, under the care of Pinker, the Princess gave birth to the couple’s first son and heir, William Arthur Philip Louis. Amidst some media criticism, she decided to take William, still a baby, on her first major tours of Australia and New Zealand, but the decision was popularly applauded. By her own admission, the Princess of Wales had not initially intended to take William until it was suggested by Malcolm Fraser, the Australian prime minister.
A second son, Henry Charles Albert David, was born on 15 September 1984. The Princess asserted she and the Prince were closest during her pregnancy with Harry (as the younger prince has always been known). She was aware their second child was a boy, but did not share the knowledge with anyone else, including the Prince of Wales. Persistent suggestions that Harry’s father is not Charles but James Hewitt, with whom Diana had an affair, have been based on alleged physical similarity between Hewitt and Harry. However, Harry had already been born by the time the affair between Hewitt and Diana began.
Diana gave her sons wider experiences than was usual for royal children. She rarely deferred to the Prince or to the Royal Family, and was often intransigent when it came to the children. She chose their first given names, dismissed a royal family nanny and engaged one of her own choosing, selected their schools and clothing, planned their outings, and took them to school herself as often as her schedule permitted. She also organised her public duties around their timetables.
Within five years of her marriage, the couple’s incompatibility and age difference (almost 13 years), as well as Diana’s concern about Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, became visible and damaging to their marriage. During the early 1990s, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales fell apart, an event at first suppressed, then sensationalised, by the world media. Both the Princess and Prince spoke to the press through friends, each blaming the other for the marriage’s demise.
The chronology of the break-up identified reported difficulties between the Prince and Princess as early as 1985. Prince Charles resumed his affair with his now-married former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles; later, Diana began a relationship with Major James Hewitt. These affairs were exposed in May 1992 with the publication of Diana: Her True Story by Andrew Morton. It was serialised in The Sunday Times before its publication. The book, which also laid bare the Princess’s allegedly suicidal unhappiness, caused a media storm. During 1992 and 1993, leaked tapes of telephone conversations negatively reflected on both the royal antagonists. Tape recordings of the Princess and James Gilbey were made available by The Sun newspaper’s hotline in August 1992 and transcripts of the intimate conversations were published by the newspaper the same month. The article’s title, “Squidgygate”, referenced Gilbey’s affectionate nickname for Diana. The next to surface, in November 1992, were the leaked “Camillagate” tapes, intimate exchanges between the Prince of Wales and Camilla, published in the tabloids. In December 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced the couple’s “amicable separation” to the House of Commons, and the full Camillagate transcript was published a month later in the newspapers, in January 1993.
In 1993, the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) published photographs of the Princess taken by gym owner Bryce Taylor which showed her exercising in the gym LA Fitness wearing “a leotard and cycling shorts”. The Princess’s lawyers immediately laid a criminal complaint seeking “a permanent ban on the sale and publication of the photographs” around the world. However, some newspapers outside the UK published the pictures. The courts granted an injunction against Taylor and MGN prohibiting “further publication of the pictures”. MGN later issued an apology after facing much criticism from the public. It is said that MGN gave the Princess £1 million as a payment for her legal costs and donated £200,000 to her charities. Taylor apologised as well and paid Diana £300,000, although it was alleged that a member of the Royal Family had helped him financially.
Diana’s aunt-in-law, Princess Margaret, burnt “highly personal” letters that Diana wrote to the Queen Mother in 1993 because she considered them “so private”. Biographer William Shawcross wrote: “No doubt Princess Margaret felt that she was protecting her mother and other members of the family.” He considered Princess Margaret’s action to be “understandable, although regrettable from a historical viewpoint”.
While Diana blamed Camilla Parker Bowles for her marital troubles because of her previous relationship with the Prince, she at some point began to believe that he had other affairs. In October 1993, the Princess wrote to a friend that she believed her husband was now in love with his personal assistant (and his sons’ former nanny) Tiggy Legge-Bourke and wanted to marry her. Legge-Bourke had been hired by the Prince as a young companion for his sons while they were in his care, and the Princess was resentful of Legge-Bourke and her relationship with the young princes. On 3 December 1993, the Princess of Wales announced her withdrawal from public life.
In the meantime, rumours had begun to surface about the Princess of Wales’s relationship with Hewitt, her and her children’s former riding instructor. These would be brought into the open by the publication in 1994 of a book by Anna Pasternak titled Princess in Love, which was filmed under the same title in a movie directed by David Greene in 1996. The Princess of Wales was portrayed by Julie Cox and James Hewitt was portrayed by Christopher Villiers.
The Prince of Wales sought public understanding via a televised interview with Jonathan Dimbleby on 29 June 1994. In this he confirmed his own extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, saying that he had rekindled their association in 1986, only after his marriage to the Princess had “irretrievably broken down”. Authors Tina Brown, Sally Bedell Smith and Sarah Bradford are some of the many writers who fully supported Diana’s own admission in her 1995 BBC Panorama interview that she had suffered from depression, “rampant bulimia” and had engaged numerous times in the act of self mutilation; the show’s transcript records Diana confirming many of her problems to interviewer Martin Bashir, including that she had “hurt (her) arms and legs”. The combination of illnesses from which Diana herself said that she suffered resulted in some of her biographers opining that she had borderline personality disorder.
Journalist Martin Bashir interviewed the Princess of Wales for the BBC current affairs show Panorama. The interview was broadcast on 20 November 1995. In reference to her relationship with Hewitt, the Princess said to Bashir, “Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down [by him].” Referring to her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, she said, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Of herself, she said, “I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts.” On the Prince’s suitability for kingship, she stated, “Because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”
On 20 December 1995, Buckingham Palace publicly announced the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales, advising them to divorce. The Queen’s move was backed by the Prime Minister and by senior Privy Counsellors, and, according to the BBC, was decided after two weeks of talks. Prince Charles formally agreed to the divorce in a written statement soon after. In February 1996, the Princess announced her agreement after negotiations with the Prince and representatives of the Queen, irritating Buckingham Palace by issuing her own announcement of the divorce agreement and its terms. In July 1996, the couple agreed on the terms of their divorce.
This followed shortly after the Princess’s accusation that the Prince’s personal assistant Tiggy Legge-Bourke had aborted the Prince’s child, after which Legge-Bourke instructed Peter Carter-Ruck to demand an apology. Diana’s secretary Patrick Jephson resigned shortly before the story broke, later writing that the Princess had “exulted in accusing Legge-Bourke of having had an abortion”.
The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. Diana received a lump sum settlement of £17 million as well as £400,000 per year. The couple signed a confidentiality agreement that prohibited them from discussing the details of the divorce or of their married life.
Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. Diana lost the style Her Royal Highness because she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales. The Queen reportedly wanted to let Diana continue to use the style after her divorce, but Charles had insisted on removing it. As the mother of the prince expected to one day ascend to the throne, she was accorded the same precedence she enjoyed during her marriage. Prince William was reported to have reassured his mother: “Don’t worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King.” Almost a year before, according to Tina Brown, the Duke of Edinburgh had warned the Princess of Wales: “If you don’t behave, my girl, we’ll take your title away.” She is said to have replied: “My title is a lot older than yours, Philip.” Diana and her mother quarrelled in May 1997 after she told Hello! magazine that Diana was happy to lose her title of Her Royal Highness following her controversial divorce from Prince Charles. They were reportedly not on speaking terms with each other by the time of Diana’s death.
Buckingham Palace stated that the Princess of Wales was still a member of the Royal Family, because she was the mother of the second and third in line to the throne. This was confirmed by the Deputy Coroner of the Queen’s Household, Baroness Butler-Sloss, after a pre-hearing on 8 January 2007: “I am satisfied that at her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be considered as a member of the Royal Household.” This appears to have been confirmed in the High Court judicial review matter of Al Fayed & Ors v Butler-Sloss. In that case, three High Court judges accepted submissions that “the very name ‘Coroner to the Queen’s Household’ gave the appearance of partiality in the context of inquests into the deaths of two people, one of whom was a member of the Royal Family and the other was not.”
In October 1981, the Prince and Princess visited Wales. The Princess of Wales attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time on 4 November 1981. Her first solo engagement was a visit to Regent Street on 18 November 1981 to switch on the Christmas lights. She attended the Trooping the Colour for the first time in June 1982, making her appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards. The Princess made her inaugural overseas tour in September 1982, to attend the state funeral of Grace, Princess of Monaco. Also in 1982, Diana accompanied the Prince of Wales to the Netherlands and was created a Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In 1983, she accompanied the Prince on a tour of Australia and New Zealand with Prince William, where they met with representatives of the Māori people. Their visit to Canada in June and July 1983 included a trip to Edmonton to open the 1983 Summer Universiade and a stop in Newfoundland to commemorate the 400th anniversary of that island’s acquisition by the Crown.
In February 1984, Diana was the patron of London City Ballet when she travelled to Norway on her own to attend a performance organised by the company. In April 1985, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Italy, and were later joined by Princes William and Harry. They met with President Alessandro Pertini. Their visit to the Holy See included a private audience with Pope John Paul II. In November 1985, the couple visited the United States, meeting President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at the White House. Diana had a busy year in 1986. With the Prince of Wales, she embarked on a tour of Japan, Indonesia, Spain, and Canada. In Canada they visited Expo 86. In 1988, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Thailand and toured Australia for the bicentenary celebrations. In February 1989, she spent a few days in New York as a solo visit. During a tour of Harlem Hospital Center, she made a profound impact on the public by spontaneously hugging a seven-year-old child with AIDS.
In March 1990, she and the Prince of Wales toured Nigeria and Cameroon. The President of Cameroon hosted an official dinner to welcome them in Yaoundé. Highlights of the tour included visits by the Princess of Wales to hospitals and projects focusing on women’s development. In May 1990, they visited Hungary for four days. It was the first visit by members of the Royal Family to “a former Warsaw Pact country”. They attended a dinner hosted by interim President Árpád Göncz and viewed a fashion display at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. Peto Institute was among the places that were visited by the Princess, and she presented its director with an honorary OBE. In November 1990, the royal couple went to Japan to attend the enthronement of Emperor Akihito.
In her desire to play an encouraging role during the Gulf War, the Princess of Wales visited Germany in December 1990 to meet with the families of soldiers. She subsequently travelled to Germany in January 1991 to visit RAF Bruggen, and later wrote an encouraging letter which was published in Soldier, Navy News and RAF News. In 1991, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where they presented the university with a replica of their royal charter. In September 1991, the Princess visited Pakistan on a solo trip, and went to Brazil with Charles. During the Brazilian tour, Diana paid visits to organizations that battled homelessness among street children. Her final trips with Charles were to India and South Korea in 1992. She visited Mother Teresa’s hospice in Kolkata, India, in 1992, and the two women developed a personal relationship. In 1992, the Princess of Wales visited Egypt. She was invited to stay at the British Ambassador’s villa, and met with President Hosni Mubarak.
Although in December 1993 she had announced that she would withdraw from public life, she stated in November 1994 that she wished to “make a partial return”. In her capacity as the vice-president of British Red Cross, she was interested in playing an important part for its 125th anniversary celebrations. Later, the Queen formally invited her to attend the anniversary celebrations of D-Day. In February 1995, the Princess visited Japan. She paid a formal visit to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. In June 1995, Diana went to Venice to visit the Venice Biennale art festival. In November 1995, the Princess undertook a four-day trip to Argentina in order to attend a charity event. The Princess visited many other countries, including Belgium, Nepal, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe, alongside numerous others. During her separation from Charles which lasted for almost four years, she participated in major national occasions as a senior member of the Royal Family, notably including “the commemorations of the 50th anniversaries of Victory in Europe Day and Victory over Japan Day” in 1995. The Princess’s 36th and final birthday celebration was held at Tate Gallery which was also a commemorative event for the gallery’s 100th anniversary.
In 1983, she confided in the then-Premier of Newfoundland, Brian Peckford, “I am finding it very difficult to cope with the pressures of being Princess of Wales, but I am learning to cope with it.” As Princess of Wales, she was expected to make regular public appearances at hospitals, schools, and other facilities, in the 20th-century model of royal patronage. From the mid-1980s, she became increasingly associated with numerous charities. She carried out 191 official engagements in 1988 and 397 in 1991. The Princess developed an intense interest in serious illnesses and health-related matters outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy. In recognition of her effect as a philanthropist, Stephen Lee, director of the UK Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers, said “Her overall effect on charity is probably more significant than any other person’s in the 20th century.
In addition to health-related matters, Diana’s extensive charity work included campaigning for animal protection and her fight against the use of landmines. She was the patroness of charities and organisations working with the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. From 1989, she was president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. From 1991 to 1996, she was a patron of Headway, a brain injury association. She was patron of Natural History Museum and president of Royal Academy of Music. From 1984 to 1996, she was president of Barnardo’s, a charity founded by Dr. Thomas John Barnardo in 1866 to care for vulnerable children and young people. In 1988, she became patron of the British Red Cross and supported its organisations in other countries such as Australia and Canada. She made several lengthy visits each week to Royal Brompton Hospital, where she worked to comfort seriously ill or dying patients. In 1992, she became the first patron of Chester Childbirth Appeal, a charity that she had supported since 1984. The charity, which is named after one of Diana’s royal titles, could raise over £1 million with her help.
The Princess began her work with AIDS victims in the 1980s. In 1989, she opened Landmark Aids Centre in South London. She was not averse to making physical contact with AIDS patients, though it was still unknown whether the disease could be spread that way. Diana was the first British royal figure to contact AIDS patients. One of her early efforts to de-stigmatise the condition included holding hands of an AIDS patient in 1987. Diana noted: “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it. What’s more, you can share their homes, their workplaces, and their playgrounds and toys.” To Diana’s disappointment, the Queen did not support this type of charity work, suggesting she get involved in “something more pleasant”. In October 1990, Diana opened Grandma’s House, a home for young AIDS victims in Washington, D.C. She was also a patron of the National AIDS Trust. In 1991, she famously hugged one victim during a visit to the AIDS ward of the Middlesex Hospital. As the patron of Turning Point, a health and social care organisation, Diana visited its project in London for people with HIV/AIDS in 1992. She later established and led fundraising campaigns for AIDS research.
In March 1997, Diana visited South Africa, where she met with President Nelson Mandela. On 2 November 2002, Mandela announced that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund would be teaming up with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to help victims of AIDS. They had planned the combination of the two charities a few months before her death. “When she stroked the limbs of someone with leprosy or sat on the bed of a man with HIV/AIDS and held his hand, she transformed public attitudes and improved the life chances of such people,” Mandela said about the late Princess. Diana had used her celebrity status to “fight stigma attached to people living with HIV/AIDS”, Mandela said.
After her divorce, Diana retained the double apartment on the north side of Kensington Palace that she had shared with the Prince of Wales since the first year of their marriage, and the apartment remained her home until her death. She also moved her offices to Kensington Palace but was permitted “to use the state apartments at St James’s Palace”. Furthermore, she continued to have access to the jewelry that she had received during her marriage, and Diana was allowed to use the air transport of the British royal family and government. In a book published in 2003, Paul Burrell claimed that the Princess’s private letters revealed that her brother, Charles Spencer, had refused to allow her to live at Althorp, despite her request.
Diana dated the British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, who was called “the love of her life” by many of her closest friends after her death, and she is said to have described him as “Mr Wonderful”. In May 1996, Diana visited Lahore upon invitation of Imran Khan, a relative of Hasnat Khan, and visited the latter’s family in secret. Khan was intensely private and the relationship was conducted in secrecy, with Diana lying to members of the press who questioned her about it. Their relationship lasted almost two years with differing accounts of who ended it. She is said to have spoken of her distress when “he” ended their relationship. However, according to Khan’s testimonial at the inquest for her death, it was Diana who ended their relationship in the summer of 1997. Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, also said that the relationship was ended by the Princess in July 1997.
Within a month, Diana began seeing Dodi Fayed, the son of her summer host, Mohamed Al-Fayed. Diana had considered taking her sons that summer on a holiday to the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, but security officials had prevented it. After deciding against a trip to Thailand, she accepted Fayed’s invitation to join his family in the south of France, where his compound and large security detail would not cause concern to the Royal Protection squad. Mohamed Al-Fayed bought the Jonikal, a 60-metre multimillion-pound yacht on which to entertain Diana and her sons.
On 31 August 1997, Diana was fatally injured in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, which also resulted in the deaths of her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver, Henri Paul, who was the acting security manager of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The funeral saw the British television audience peak at 32.10 million, one of the United Kingdom’s highest viewing figures ever, while millions more watched the event around the world.