Жизнь принцессы Дианы (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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 lives.
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
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
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 influential ambassadress.
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 Organizations’.
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
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
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
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 ‘Mummy’.
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
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 protecting.
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 style.
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
I 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
‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ by Brian Hoey