Princess Diana was one of the British royals that really connected to the rest of the world. Her tragic death in 1997 sent shock waves through the entire world because people could relate to who she was. Her parents had divorced when she was young, she worked as a maid and a kindergarten teacher, and rumor had it that not everyone approved of her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. Her hidden life was filled with dark, private struggles that many people are still not aware of today.
1. She Had an Affair
Charles and Diana officially separated from their marriage in 1992. The divorce took 4 years to be finalized. In a 1995 interview with BBC television, Diana admitted that she had committed adultery during her marriage. She told the people watching the interview that she hoped that she could still be a queen in their hearts, even if she couldn’t actually become the Queen of England in the future. When the divorce was finalized in 1996, she lost the title “Her Royal Highness,” although she was still officially titled the Princess of Wales.
2. An Incomparable Popularity Even Today
When she and Charles got married in 1981, more than 700 million people tuned into the event on television sets in over 70 countries. Royal watchers were keen to get a glimpse of the huge ring that was created by Garrard. It had 14 solitaire diamonds that were situated around a 12 carat sapphire. Remarkably enough, this expensive ring had 18K gold instead of 24K gold to hold the jewels. Diana’s ring is still being worn today, but it’s on the finger of Kate Middleton instead.
3. Conspiracies Surround Her Death
While traveling through Paris one night in 1997 with her boyfriend at the time, the driver of her car lost control and the accident claimed her life. The initial investigation concluded that her driver was drunk at the time of the accident and placed responsibility for her death on him. This didn’t satisfy most of the public, who repeatedly called for a more thorough investigation, one that was eventually granted by the UK in 2004. The Coroner’s inquest came to the same determination. The one determination that they made was that Diana wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
Eventually a second inquest determined that the driver was negligent in her death and held him responsible for it posthumously. The paparazzi who were chasing them were also held responsible for their conduct.
As proof of her ability to impact lives, about 2.5 billion people from all corners of the world tuned in to watch at least part of her funeral. Diana was eventually buried at her family estate in Northamptonshire. Her grave is on an ornamental island and four black swans swim around it to make sure that she is properly guarded. 36 oak trees lead visitors there, one tree for each year of her life.
4. Even More Controversy
The Royal family held a 10th anniversary celebration for Princess Diana in 2007. There were numerous dignitaries and celebrities in attendance, including Elton John, two former Primer Ministers, the current Prime Minister, and of course her ex-husband and her sons. The current wife of Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, chose not to attend the event. Prince Harry delivered a speech that he wrote himself where he called his mother a “friend and protector.” Prince Charles read directly from the Bible for his address.
5. Diana Supported Numerous Charities
One of her most notable campaigns was to ban landmines in the theater of war, work that she was truly passionate about. It took her to every corner of the world after her divorce from Prince Charles became official. In total, Diana is known to have supported over 100 charities, one of which even won the Nobel Peace Prize just a few months after death. Her most notable trip occurred in 1997 when she traveled to Angola for the express purpose of raising awareness for the International Red Cross and their campaign to remove landmines at the time. Diana would often instruct that her visits be kept secrete from the media so that she could visit with people who were sick or injured in peace.
6. Personal Issues were Her Vice
Diana’s autobiography chronicles a number of personal struggles that she had during her first years of marriage to Prince Charles. She particularly struggled with some mental health issues, including eating disorders and suicide attempts. In the end, however, she was able to overcome these issues and be the loving mother that she knew her sons would need.
7. She Changed How the World Perceived AIDS
In the earliest days of HIV/AIDS, there was a lot of negative stigma that surrounded people who had the disease. It was not uncommon for people who had AIDS to be discriminated against under the justification of not wanting to become ill. Diana showed that not only did people with this disease deserve compassion, but that those who were afflicted weren’t necessarily dangerous to the general public. Her strive and desire to pursue equality for those affected by this changed the world’s perception about who a person with AIDS really happened to be.
8. It Was a Loving Family
Although Diana came from a broken home, it was still very much a loving home. Her two sisters, Jane and Sarah, would often dote on her. Diana would often recount how they would help to give her a bath, comb her hair, and help to dress her up. She also had two brothers, named John and Charles. She loved to go dancing, swimming, and she’d go skiing on occasion as well. Prince Charles knew of the family and was even neighbors to them. At one point, Charles was dating Diana’s older sister.
Her extended family is also filled with a number of historical figures with recognizable names. People like George Washington, Humphrey Bogart, and even the Bush family in the US are all part of Diana’s extended family.
9. It Wasn’t a Happy Marriage
Princess Diana always admired the strongest women that were working in her era. Names like Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and even Madonna were amongst her top idolized women. She often looked to the strength of these women so that she could endure a marriage that wasn’t very happy. Part of the reason why she sunk into the depression and eating disorders was because of how unhappy she really was, despite being the first lady to marry the heir to the British throne in over three centuries.
10. Every Magazine Sold Out
Diana appeared on the cover of dozens of magazines. She was featured on the cover of People magazine more than 50 times. Time magazine featured her 8 times. Newsweek featured her on the cover 7 times. Other magazines around the world would also regularly put her image on their cover. Doing so made for good business. Just about every magazine issue that featured Princess Diana sold out.
11. Her Work Continues Today
Although Diana has been gone from this world for several years, her charitable works continue to live on through the Princess of Wales Fund. This fund was established after her death, but the goal was simple: to make sure that the organizations she supported would continue to receive the advocacy that they deserved. Today this fund helps to take care of those who are sick in Africa, providing shelter and housing for refugees around the world, and continues to campaign against the use of landmines during conflicts.
12. A Rebel In Disguise
When Diana talked about her life when she was dating Prince Charles, she would often tell people that she’d been bred for performing royal duties. When reality began to set in, however, she found out that being a princess was much more overwhelming that anticipated. She began to recover from many of her personal issues once she made the decision to get away from some of her royal duties to pursue some of her own interests. This didn’t always sit well with the family, but it did help her to win the hearts and minds of the rest of the population.
13. Breaking News
The accident was breaking news around the world when it happened. Diana initially survived the accident and many people formed prayer groups and held vigilance over the last few hours of her life in the hopes that she would be able to pull through from her injuries. News broadcasts around the world routinely interrupted programming to update people about her condition.
Princess Diana had a profound effect on the world and that effect continues on today. She was willing to stand up for what she believed, do so proudly, and many women looked to her as a strong example of leadership. Diana learned from her struggles, applied what she learned from them, and this allowed her to be an influential presence and a comfort to those in need.