60 Facts about Diana, Princess of Wales

This week marks the 60th Anniversary of the Birth of the late Diana, Princess of Wales! We covered her Top 20 Jewels to mark the 20th Anniversary of her Death in 2017, and for the past few days leading up to this anniversary, we have been featuring a few more pieces from the late Princess’ collection, but today, our focus is on the life and legacy of the iconic Princess, so we are featuring 60 Facts about Diana, Princess of Wales!

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The Jewels of Diana, Princess of Wales | Top 20 Jewels | Tiaras | 60 Facts

1 | Born on 1 July 1961 to Viscount Althorp and the Hon. Frances Roche, she was styled as The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer due to her father’s courtesy title as the heir to the Spencer Earldom.

2 | Diana was born and raised at Park House, at the Sandringham estate. Her family leased the house from Queen Elizabeth II at the time and the proximity to the Royal Family’s Norfolk residence meant that Diana would often play with Princes Andrew and Edward, due to their similar ages.

3| Her family was closely associated with the Royal Family and both her grandmothers were Ladies-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

4 | Diana had three older siblings -Sarah, Jane and John- and a younger brother, Charles. Sadly, John died a few hours after his birth.

5 | The marriage of her parents wasn’t a happy one, mostly due to pressure to have a son who could inherit the earldom. The couple divorced in 1969, though Diana’s mother was already in another relationship for the last two years.

6 | Her father won custody of his children after the divorce, with the help of his former mother-in-law, Lady Fermoy, who testified against her own daughter.

7 | Diana continued to live with her father and siblings at Park House until 1975, when her father inherited the Spencer earldom and the family moved to the family’s ancestral home, Althorp. Diana became Lady Diana with her father’s succession to the family title.

8 | Although initially educated at home under the supervision of a governess, Lady Diana first went to a preparatory school, Riddlesworth Hall at Diss, Norfolk, and then in 1974 went as a boarder to West Heath, near Sevenoaks, Kent. At school she showed a particular talent for music (as an accomplished pianist), dancing and domestic science, and gained the school’s award for the girl giving maximum help to the school and her schoolfellows.

9 | She left West Heath in 1977 and went to finishing school at the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont, Switzerland, which she left after the Easter term of 1978.

10 | She moved into a flat in London in 1979, where she worked as a kindergarten teacher at the Young England School in Pimlico and as a nanny for an American couple.

11 | Diana met her future husband in November 1977, when he was invited for a weekend at Althorp while dating Diana’s sister Sarah. Diana was 16 and Charles was 29 at the time.

12 | Charles didn’t consider Diana as a possible choice of bride until Summer 1980, when they were both guests at a country weekend and Diana watched him as he played polo.

13 | Diana was subsequently invited for a sailing weekend aboard the royal yacht Britannia and a November visit to Balmoral Castle to meet members of the Royal Family, including the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother who all approved of her.

14 | Charles proposed to Diana on 6 February 1981 at Windsor Castle, but the engagement was kept secret until the official announcement on 24 February.

15 | Diana chose her engagement ring, which is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.

16 | Following the engagement announcement, Diana stoped working and lived briefly at Clarence House, then the London residence of the Queen Mother, before moving into Buckingham Palace where Diana lived until the wedding. Her first public appearance with the Prince of Wales was at a charity ball in March 1981 at Goldsmiths’ Hall, where she met Grace, Princess of Monaco.

17 | They were married at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981, in a ceremony which drew a global television and radio audience estimated at around 1,000 million people, and hundreds of thousands of people lining the route from Buckingham Palace to the Cathedral. The wedding reception was at Buckingham Palace.

18 | At the altar, Diana accidentally inverted the order of his first two names, saying “Philip Charles” Arthur George instead and she didn’t include the traditional vow to obey her husband.

19 | Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry an heir to the throne for 300 years (when Anne Hyde married the future James II from whom The Princess was descended).

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20 | She was attended by five bridesmaids, including Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (now Lady Sarah Chatto). Prince Andrew (now The Duke of York) and Prince Edward (now The Earl of Wessex) were The Prince of Wales’s Supporters (a Royal custom instead of a Best Man).

21 | The Prince and Princess of Wales spent part of their honeymoon at the Mountbatten family home at Broadlands, Hampshire, before flying to Gibraltar to join the Royal Yacht HMY BRITANNIA for a 12-day cruise through the Mediterranean to Egypt. They finished their honeymoon with a stay at Balmoral.

22 | At the time of her wedding, Diana became the third highest ranking woman in the order of precedence in the UK, ranking after the Queen and the Queen Mother. At the time of the wedding, she acquired the following titles: Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Countess of Chester, Lady of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles and Princess and Great Stewardess of Scotland. Diana also became a Royal Highness.

23 | The Prince and Princess made their principal home at Highgrove House near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, with an apartment in Kensington Palace as their London home.

24 | Her first tour with The Prince of Wales was a three-day visit to Wales in October 1981.

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25 | The Princess of Wales first attended the State Opening of Parliament on 4 November 1981.

26 | The Princess of Wales carried out her first solo official engagement on 18 November 1981, when she switched on the Christmas lights during a visit to Regent Street.

27 | The first pregnancy of the Princess of Wales was announced on 5 November 1981. Shortly after, in January, Diana threw herself down a staircase because she was feeling “inadequate”. There was no damage made to her baby.

28 | Diana took part in her official first State Visit in March 1982, when Queen Elizabeth II hosted a visit from the Sultan of Oman. However, the Princess of Wales took part during the Saudi Arabia State Visit in June 1981, before her wedding.

29 | The Princess gave birth to her first son on 21 June 1982 at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, in London.

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30 | Diana suffered with post partum depression following the birth of William.

31 | The Princess undertook her first solo official visit abroad in September 1982, when she represented her mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, at the funeral of Grace, Princess Consort of Monaco.

32 | In 1983 she accompanied the Prince on a tour of Australia and New Zealand, and they took the infant Prince William with them. Diana had not considered taking William on the tour until it was suggested by the Prime Minister of Australia.

33 | The Princess’s first solo overseas tour was in February 1984, when she travelled to Norway to attend a performance of Carmen by the London City Ballet, of which she was Patron.

34 | Diana gave birth to Prince Harry on 15 September 1984, at the same hospital where Prince William was born. She knew her second child was a boy, but told no one before the birth.

35 | Diana insisted on making many of the decisions surrounding the lives of her sons. She chose their schools, clothes and most of what they did.

36 | Prince Harry first joined his parents and elder brother during an official visit overseas in April 1985. Princes William and Harry travelled to Italy aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, where they joined their parents.

37 | The Prince and Princess of Wales paid their first joint visit to the United States in November 1985. Their Royal Highnesses were hosted by the President and First Lady Reagan at the White House.

38 | Besides those countries already mentioned, Diana also paid official visits to Germany, Austria, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Indonesia, Spain, France, Portugal, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Hungary, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belgium, France, Thailand, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Argentina, Russia and Japan (for the enthronement of now Emperor Emeritus Akihito).

39 | During her marriage, the Princess was president or patron of over 100 charities.

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40 | Some of the causes with which she was most involved include raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, work on behalf of homeless and also disabled people, children, cancer and landmines, during her last year alive.

41 | Diana’s work in the area of HIV/AIDS did a lot to change the stigma around the illness, and the same for people with cancer and leprosy. Her photos hugging people with virus caused great commotion.

42 | The couple’s last joint overseas visit was to South Korea in 1992.

43 | In December 1992 it was announced that The Prince and Princess of Wales had agreed to separate. In a statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “I know that there will be great sadness at this news. But I know also that, as they continue with their royal duties and with bringing up their children, the Prince and Princess will have the full support, understanding and affection of the House and of the country”.

44 | At the time of the couple’s separation it was announced that their constitutional status was unaffected, they had no intention to divorce and, according to the Prime Minister’s statement, “there is no reason why the Princess of Wales should not be crowned Queen in due course”.

45 | It was decided that Charles and Diana would continue to carry out full and separate programmes of public engagements, and would from time to time attend family occasions and national events together

46 | Both Charles and Diana maintained extramarital affairs during their marriage. In 1994, Charles admitted to resuming his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles in 1986.

47 | After the separation, The Princess based her household and her office at Kensington Palace, while The Prince was based at St James’s Palace and continued to live at Highgrove.

48 | In December 1993, the Princess announced that she would be reducing the extent of her public life in order to combine ‘a meaningful public role with a more private life’. She only decided to make a partial return to public life in late 1994.

49 | After her separation from The Prince of Wales, the Princess continued to appear with the Royal Family on major national occasions when invited by the Queen, such as the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) and VJ (Victory over Japan) Days in 1995.

50 | In November 1995, the Princess gave a shocking television interview for the BBC show Panorama, during which she spoke of her unhappiness in her personal life and the pressures of her public role. The marriage was said to have gone bad five years into it. She famously said: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”.

51 | Buckingham Palace announced after the interview that the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales recommending that the couple should get a divorce. The move was backed by the government.

52 | Diana agreed to start divorce negotiations in February 1996 and the divorce’s decree nisi was granted on 15 July 1996.

53 | The divorce was finalized on 28 August 1996. A few days before, the Queen issued letters patent to strip former wives of princes of their HRH style, thus changing Diana’s title from Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales to Diana, Princess of Wales.

54 | Diana received a lump sum of £17 million, as well as an annual payment to maintain her office. She also kept her apartment at Kensington Palace, access to the state rooms at St. James’s Palace to host events and use of air royal transportation. Buckingham Palace announced that Diana would continue to be considered a member of the Royal Family and would keep rank in the order of precedence when attending official events.

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55 | Following her divorce, the Princess resigned most of her charity and other patronages, and relinquished all her Service appointments with military units. The Princess remained as patron of Centrepoint (homeless charity), English National Ballet, Leprosy Mission and National Aids Trust, and as President of the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street and of the Royal Marsden Hospital.

56 | Diana, Princess of Wales had 17 godchildren, including Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark.

57 | Between 1996 and 1997, Diana was in a relationship with British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, even visiting Pakistan to meet his family in May 1996.

58 | In June 1997, the Princess attended receptions in London and New York as previews of the sale of a number of dresses and suits worn by her on official engagements, with the proceeds going to charity.

59 | Her last official engagement in Britain was on 21 July, when she visited Northwick Park Hospital, London (children’s accident and emergency unit) and her last overall public engagements were during her visit to Bosnia from 7 to 10 August, when she visited landmine projects in Travnic, Sarajevo and Zenezica.

60 | Diana, Princess of Wales tragically died in a car accident on 31 August 1997 at the young age of 37. The vehicle in which The Princess was travelling while escaping paparazzi was involved in a high-speed accident in the Place de l’Alma underpass in central Paris shortly before midnight on Saturday 30 August. Diana was taken to hospital and underwent two hours of emergency surgery before being declared dead. Her sons were at Balmoral Castle with the Royal Family and were told the sad news the following morning. The Princess’s body was subsequently repatriated to the United Kingdom in the evening of Sunday 31 August by a BA 146 aircraft of the Royal Squadron. The Prince of Wales and the Princess’s elder sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, accompanied the Princess’s coffin on its return journey. After a Funeral at Westminster Abbey, she was buried in an undisclosed location on the Althrop Estate.

This article has been written by assistant editor Gabriel Aquino

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