Remembering the Princess on her birthday


Lady Diana Frances Spencer, (Diana Frances Mountbatten-Windsor, née Spencer) (July 1, 1961–August 31, 1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. From her marriage in 1981 to her divorce in 1996 she was styled “Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales”. After her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996 Diana ceased to be the Princess of Wales and also lost the resulting Royal Highness style, She received the title normally used by the ex-wives of peers, Diana, Princess of Wales under Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II at the time of the divorce.

Diana was often called Princess Diana by the media and the public, but she did not possess such a title and was not a princess by birth, a point Diana herself made to people who referred to her as such. Contrary to belief, being Princess of Wales does not make one a princess in one’s own right. It merely indicates that one was married to a Prince of Wales. Princesses in their own right only exist by creation of the monarch or by birth. Diana was in fact the first non-princess to be Princess of Wales for centuries. Previous Princesses of Wales, such as Alexandra of Denmark or Mary of Teck were already princesses by birth when they married a Prince of Wales.

An iconic presence on the world stage, Diana, Princess of Wales was noted for her pioneering charity work. Yet her philanthropic endeavours were overshadowed by her scandal-plagued marriage to Prince Charles. Her bitter accusations via friends and biographers of adultery, mental cruelty and emotional distress visited upon her, and her own admission of adultery and numerous love affairs riveted the world for much of the 1990s, spawning books, magazine articles and television movies.

From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world. To her admirers, the Princess of Wales was a role model – after her death, there were even calls for her to be nominated for sainthood – while her detractors saw her life as a cautionary tale of how an obsession with publicity can ultimately destroy an individual.

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