Born Lady Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961, the daughter of Frances Spencer (nee Roche) and the Eighth Earl of Spencer. She was educated in Norfolk and at boarding school in Kent, and was regarded as an academically average student. At 16 she attended finishing school in Switzerland.
In 1980, at the age of 19 she caught the eye of the Prince of Wales, Charles, who invited her to a polo match. A romance began and he proposed to her in February of 1981. The wedding took place at St Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981, in front of a massive global television audience.
Diana gave birth to 2 children, Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. During the mid-to-late 1980s she became well known for her support of charity projects, and is given considerable credit for diminishing the stigma associated with AIDS.
Diana died on August 31, 1997 in a car accident in Paris, along with her lover, Dodi Al-Fayed. Although many allegations of conspiracy were made in the media at the time, it is generally accepted that her death was a genuine accident. In Paris a momument called the "Flambe de Liberty" (Flame of Liberty) has been adopted as a memorial due to its proximity to the fatal crash. Previously this monument was connected with the the donation of the Statue of Liberty by the French people to America, and its adoption has proved to be controversial.
Her death was greeted with extraordinary public grief, and her funeral procession was attended by an estimated 6 million people. Flowers were thrown at the funeral procession for almost the entire length of journey, excepting those stretches where the public were not allowed to stand by the road, such as along motorways and at motorway junctions. Queen Elizabeth II made a notable change from standard royal protocol by bowing as the procession passed.
She is buried at Althrop in the United Kingdom on an island in the middle of a lake on her brother's estate. There is a visitor's centre that allows visitors to pay to see an exhibition about her and walk around the lake.
- Althrop for Princess Diana's final resting place.