Royal Family: 50 Photos Remembering Princess Diana, Her Life and Her Legacy

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Princess Diana changed the public's perception of what it means to be a royal. REUTERS/Stringer

Perhaps no other figure has had a greater impact on the British royal family than Princess Diana. She came to be known as the "People's Princess," modernizing the perception of the royal family. This legacy lives on in her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry; it's visible in their own commitment to helping others and making a difference in people's lives. And as the world waits excitedly for Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle, it's worth remembering that Diana's own wedding was a riveting event.

Princess Diana was born Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961. When her father became Earl Spencer, she acquired the title "Lady." At just 20 years old she married Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne. Their wedding was a gorgeous spectacle watched by more than 750 million people around the world, with millions more lining the streets of London just to catch a glimpse of their new princess. In truth, the couple scarcely knew one another and weren't well suited. But though the marriage didn’t last, ending in a bitter divorce in 1996, Diana remained popular with the public.

Diana humanized the royal family. She seemed fresh and accessible—in contrast to the stiff-upper-lip stuffiness of her husband and the rest of the royal family. She brought attention to all kinds of suffering, whether caused by HIV/AIDS or landmines. Cuddling sick children or twirling around the dance floor with John Travolta, Diana always seemed authentic.  

The princess had a love-hate relationship with the press. She worked with favored reporters to reveal her side of the story of her troubled marriage. But the paparazzi frenzy she inspired led indirectly to her death. Diana was in Paris with her then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed. As they left their hotel, paparazzi swarmed around them. The driver of their car lost control and they crashed in a tunnel. Her death at the age of 36, on August 31, 1997, stunned the world, freezing in memory the image of a bride, a mother, a princess and a remarkable woman.

 

1 Remembering Princess Diana
Historic visit: Diana, Princess of Wales with Pope John Paul II during a private audience at the Vatican on April 25, 1985. REUTERS
2 - Remembering Princess Diana
Sporty: Princess Diana looks towards the centre court as she sits in the royal box at Wimbledon waiting to watch the men's singles semifinal between Jimmy Conners and Kevin Curren July 5,1985. REUTERS
3 - Remembering Princess Diana
Disco Diana: The princess is shown wearing a Victor Edelstein gown as she dances at a November 9, 1985 White House dinner with actor John Travolta. REUTERS
4 - Remembering Princess Diana
The fairy tale: Prince Charles kisses his bride Diana on their wedding day, July 29, 1981. REUTERS
5 - Remembering Princess Diana
All in the family: Prince Charles and Princess Diana ride in an open carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding of the Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson in London, July 23, 1986. REUTERS
6 - Remembering Princess Diana
Fashion icon: Princess Diana in an evening dress arrives at the British Ambassador's residence to attend a dinner and reception hosted by Ambassador Sir Sydney Giffard and Lady Giffard May 12, 1986. REUTERS/Edwards
7 - Remembering Princess Diana
Doing the job: Princess Diana tries out a spirometer to test her lungs during an official visit to the Brompton Hospital in London on September 18, 1986. REUTERS/John Eggitt
36 - Remembering Princess Diana
Global ambassador: Diana, the Princess of Wales seen in this file photo during her visit to Paris 11 November 1988. REUTERS
8 - Remembering Princess Diana
Showing compassion: Britain's Princess Diana shakes hands with a child suffering from leprosy during a visit to Sitanala leprosy hospital on November 4, 1989, in Jakarta. REUTERS/Dominic Wong
9 - Remembering Princess Diana
A life of duty: Diana, Princess of Wales, looks over her shoulder and smiles during banquet for Japanese Emperor Akihito in Tokyo November 12, 1990. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama
10 - Remembering Princess Diana
The royal touch: Britain's Princess Diana meets an AIDS patient at the hospital of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro on April 25, 1991. REUTERS/Vanderlei Almeida