Diana, Princess of Wales, was the most recognized woman of her era. From the time she burst onto the scene in 1980 until her untimely 1997 death, no woman on earth was more photographed. Here are five of Princess Diana’s most iconic moments.
- The Photo With No Slip
Most of us got to know Diana in the fall of 1980, as the shy, preppy nursery school teacher. The press loved her understated beauty, and immediately began snapping photo after photo of her.
They captured a shot of her with a few of her preschool students, standing against bright sunlight which shone through her thin floral skirt, revealing her legs. Diana’s demure response? “I forgot to wear a slip!”
Princes Charles was reportedly delighted, quipping to her, “I knew you had great legs – but did you have to show them to everyone?”
- The Wedding of the Century
So many weddings are now dubbed “wedding of the century,” but the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer truly was. Held July 29, 1981, in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral (traditional royal wedding venue Westminster Abbey was deemed too small), the spectacle was planned for months and drew a television audience of 750 million.
Viewers in America woke in the middle of the night to tune in to the festivities, and memorable moments abounded: Diana posing with some of her nursery school students who were in the wedding; Diana’s frail father Earl Spencer (recovering from a stroke) accompanying her down the aisle; Diana’s fairy-tale gown, complete with a 25-foot train; Charles and Diana breaking from tradition by kissing on the Buckingham Palace balcony to a cheering audience.
- Birth of Prince William
Just 11 months after the royal wedding, 20-year-old Diana fulfilled her royal duty by providing an heir to the throne: first son, William Arthur Philip Louis.
As with the wedding, media coverage of Diana’s pregnancy and the baby’s birth was nonstop. From the breathless photos of Diana’s stylish maternity wear to the coverage throughout the day of William’s birth (June 21, 1982), no detail was spared to a wildly curious public.
When Diana and William returned home less than 24 hours later, the public was amazed at her stamina and thrilled at the sight of the tiny prince and his glamorous mother waving happily.
- BBC Panorama Interview
Although the public continued its love affair with Diana, the bloom was soon off the rose for the royal marriage. Charles and Diana separated, and in 1995 Diana participated in a revealing 1-hour BBC interview in which she famously stated “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded …” The third person was Charles’ old flame Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he married after Diana’s death.
In this interview, Diana also admitted her own infidelity and bulimia, and expressed the wish to be “queen of people’s hearts.”
August 31, 1997: do you remember where you were when you heard that Princess Diana had died? I got a call from my aunt to turn on the TV. I heard that Diana had been in a car crash in Paris, and perhaps had a broken arm.
As the night went on, her injuries were reported more ominously. And then, it was announced that she was dead.
I, as well as much of the world, was shocked. How could such a vibrant life force be snuffed out so suddenly?
For the next week, London led the world in mourning the passing of the “people’s princess.” Diana’s Kensington Palace home was surrounded with bouquets, hand-written notes, stuffed animals, and other memorabilia.
People lined up for hours to sign remembrance books in Diana’s memory.
The day of the funeral, few will forget the small bouquet on Diana’s casket, inscribed simply “Mummy” by 12-year-old son Harry.
What is your favorite memory of Diana?
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