Princess Diana: A beautiful, tragic life cut short
August 31, 1997
Web posted at: 1:40 a.m. EDT (0540 GMT)
In this story:
(CNN) -- Princess Diana, beautiful, famous and wealthy, won
the admiration of millions, but simple happiness eluded her.
On Sunday, the 36-year-old princess died from injuries
suffered in a Paris car crash that also killed her companion,
A year after her "fairy-tale" marriage to Prince Charles
ended in divorce, she seemed finally to have found, in Fayed,
a modicum of joy. But the pressures of an insatiable press
and public never abated.
In an interview published last week, she told the French
newspaper Le Monde she would like to move to another country
but couldn't because of her sons, who are in line for the
"Any sane person would have left long ago. But I cannot. I
have my sons," Diana said.
She had often pleaded with the press -- particularly the pack
of photographers who followed her every move -- to leave her
A steady stream of photographs in the tabloids over the past
month showed Diana and Fayed embracing, laughing and relaxing
in the Mediterranean.
Wedding of the century
It was on a summer's day in 1981 that a 20-year-old Lady
Diana Spencer married Charles, the Prince of Wales, amid the
splendor of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Her wedding, the wedding of the century, came after a
courtship that appeared to be straight out of the storybooks.
Their marriage captivated not just Britons but the world.
Diana was young, diffident, and uncertain. She was not yet
used to the formality and rules that governed the House of
Windsor, and not accustomed to the unrelenting media
spotlight that would become part of her daily existence.
The expectation was that she and Charles would continue the
line of succession, providing at least one heir who would
assume the throne in the 21st century.
Just a year after the marriage, their first son, Prince
William, was born. He was soon to be followed by another
son, Harry. Everything seemed to be going according to the
script carefully prepared by Buckingham Palace.
Problems in the marriage
But Diana was depressed by her frequent separations from
Charles, and by what she perceived as his excessive devotion
to royal duty. She hated being away from her sons. And she
was both hurt and angered by constant speculation about her
husband's alleged relationships with other women.
She spoke later of Camilla Parker Bowles, a longtime friend of
Charles, as being "the third person" in her marriage.
For his part, Charles appeared to resent Diana's immense
popularity with the public, which stole the limelight from
His interests -- the countryside, ecology, fishing and
hunting -- were incompatible with her interests, including
music and fashion.
Amid intense media attention, it became clear that the royal
couple was growing apart. Newspapers would measure the days
the two spent apart. A book, "Diana: Her Story" by Andrew
Morton, revealed details of her unhappiness. She had
developed eating disorders, and was even reported to have
Separation, then divorce
Eventually, out of the blue, then-Prime Minister John Major
announced that Diana and Charles would separate. The British
monarchy had not faced such a crisis since the abdication of
King Edward VIII in 1936.
But the princess was not to be deterred from maintaining her
high public profile. Once the couple's divorce was
confirmed, and she was freed from the shackles of royal
protocol, she began to be seen in public with other men.
She focused her official life on several charities, ranging
from the Royal Ballet in London to the Red Cross campaign
against land mine use. In recent months, she traveled to
Angola and to Bosnia to see the effects of land mines
firsthand as a guest of the International Red Cross, a stand
that courted political controversy.
She managed to combine her charitable work with a
high-profile social calendar.
But her liaison with Dodi Fayed, the son of Egyptian
billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, seemed to be the most serious
social engagement she'd had since the breakup of her
"She genuinely was saintly," said Andrew Roberts of the
London Sunday Times. "She hadn't got a vicious bone in her
body. And if we had privacy law here, if we had a press law
in this country like they had in France, she could be alive