Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 in Sandringham, Norfolk. Her parents, John and Frances Spencer, were hoping for a boy to carry on the Spencer name. It took them nearly a week to come up with a name for the baby girl. Eighteen months earlier, her mother had giver birth to a baby boy, but he was so sick that he only survived for ten hours. Lady Frances, twenty three at the time, was sent to many specialists to find out the reason why she could not have a little boy. Three years after Diana was born, Lady Frances gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Charles.
Diana had been christened in Sandringham Church with well-to-do commoners for godparents. Charles, on the other hand, was christened in Westminster Abbey with the Queen of England as his godparent. As a child, Diana spent most of her time playing outside. Close to her home were many woods, horse stables, and they owned a heated swimming pool. The woods were filled with rabbits, foxes, deer, and other animals. As she grew older, she also grew a great love for animals. She also had a love for children. At age eighteen, she became a teachers assistant. She taught dance, drawing, and painting to kindergarten students.
When she was six years old, her mother left her father for another man. She went between her mother’s townhouse and her father’s country estates. Both parents got re-married, so she had two step-parents to please. Because of Diana’s royal background, she earned an invitation to Prince Charles’s thirtieth birthday party. This is were the two met for the first time. There were hundreds of people at the party, but Charles couldn’t take his eyes off of Diana. A few months later, the two became a couple. “The news about Charles and Diana’s love soon spread. The shy young teacher’s aide quickly became famous.
Everyone wanted to know if the Prince had finally found his Princess. “The answer came in February 1981. Prince Charles asked Lady Diana to be his wife. Blushing with happiness, Diana accepted. The fairy tale had begun-and Diana’s life would never be the same. “1 During their engagement, Diana frequently visited Buckingham Palace, and the Queen of England for royal training. She practiced walking down the aisle, how to dress like a princess, and how to sit for hours while her portrait is was painted. She also had to get used to be photographed wherever she went.
The royal wedding took place on July 24, 1981 at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The wedding was viewed by over 750 million people around the world. After the wedding, the couple took a cruise along the Mediterranean Sea on the royal yacht, Britannia. They were the only passengers on board, but there were 276 officers on board, ready to wait on their every need. After the cruise, they continued their honeymoon at the Windsor family’s Scottish estate, Balmoral Castle. On June 21, 1982 at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Paddington London, Prince William Arthur Phillip Louis, the future King of England.
Two years later, Henry (Harry) Charles Albert David was born. He was called the “spare” because he would only become king if his brother William couldn’t. After the birth of her two boys, Diana made it a point to expose her sons to life outside the palace. She and her boys road roller coasters, shot rapids, and ate at fast food restaurants. Diana insisted that William and Harry attend regular schools. She took them with her when she visited AIDS patients and the homeless. Her reason for doing this was to show the boys that there was life outside of royalty.
Princess Diana once told reporters, “I think the biggest disease this worl suffers fromis the disease of people feeling unloved. I can give loveand I’m very happy to do that. I want to do that. “2 Giving love is exactly what Princess Diana did. At one point, she was president of 6 of the 27 charities that she was involved in. As years passed, her schedule became very hectic. Although she was extremely busy, she made time to stay physically fit. She visited the gym, played tennis, or swam nearly everyday. Once Diana had Christies auction off 79 gowns that she had collected during her fifteen years as the Wife of Windsor.
All the proceeds of the auction went to charity. She made many personal sacrifices from charities. She learned sign language so that she could communicate with the deaf association and she wrote personal notes to the families of hospital patients that she had met. She raised awareness of social issues such as AIDS, poverty, drug use problems, and homelessness. “Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be3,” Diana once said. The strain of royal life triggered a fatal eating disorder, Bulimia Nervosa. In the mid 1980’s, Prince Charles began to see his old love , Camilla Parker Bowles.
The fairy tale life of Princess Diana was falling apart. In December, 1992, Prime Minister John Major announced to Parliament that Charles and Diana were separating. The divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was finalized on August 28, 1996. When the divorce was finalized, she officially lost her title “Her Royal Highness. ” After the divorce, she began to struggle just as any newly single woman would. “For the first time in her life, Diana had the chance to be mistress of her own fate. “4 Over the last few years of her life, Diana had grown estranged from her own family, her sisters Jane and Sarah, and her brother Charles. None of her family was regarded as important in her life. In January, her longtime private secretary, Patrick Jephson, along with her chauffeur, quit. After her divorce, Diana found a new love. Diana had fallen for Dodi Fayed. Dodi is a multi-millionaire, who’s father owned the famous Herrods department store. Diana no longer tried to hide from the cameras. She was very open with her new relationship. Prince William and Prince Harry did not mind their mother’s new life. They said that they were happy as long as she was happy. The day was August 31, 1997.
Diana and Dodi’s last day together was reportedly romantic. They ate dinner at the two-star restaurant in the Ritz Hotel, which is also owned by Dodi’s father. Then they were to spend the rest of the evening at a private villa across the Seine River, but they never made it there. After leaving the restaurant, Diana and Dodi got into their car, not knowing that the driver had been drinking. The car went speeding into the Place de l’Alma underpass in Central Paris shortly after midnight. The car lost control and smashed into the median. Ambulances were called at 12:35 a. m. (Paris time).
The police arrived in four minutes, but the first ambulance didn’t arrive for eleven minutes. By the time that the ambulance arrived, the driver of the car, and Dodi Fayed were already dead. It was determined later that they both had blood alcohol levels of at least three ties the legal limit. Princess Diana was found in the rear passenger seat with her arm around Dodi. The paramedics and fireman took nearly an hour cutting Diana out of the wrecked car. At first, her vital signs were stable and she appeared to have just a broken arm, some cuts and bruises, and a concussion.
After placing her in the ambulance, the paramedics began CPR. “Suddenly, Diana’s heart stopped beating, again. For the next two hours, surgeons literally held her heart in their hands as they performed open-heart surgery and other emergency treatments, including a massive blood transfusion. “5 The doctors used cardio-electric shock to try to get her heart beating again. But, it didn’t work. The Princess suffered a major heart attack. “After two hours (of massaging her heart), Dr. Riou softly sighed, ‘C’est fini, (it’s over). ‘ The battle has been lost. “6 The world was shocked to hear the news of the tragic death of the Princess.
The whole worlds hearts went out to the two young boys that she had left behind. “She was their mother, The one who , unlike Charles, game them their kisses and cuddles. “7 She took them to parks in London, and played commando games with them at video arcades. They met motor-racing heroes together, and listened to the Spice Girls. “She once let Harry eat chocolate until he was sick, and traded sly jokes with them. She was their pal, not just their mother. “8 “In the days following her death, thousands of flowers and notes were left at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
It seemed the entire world was weeping for its lost princess. “9 On Sunday August third, Princess Diana’s body was taken by BAe 146 aircraft of the Royal Squadron back to London. Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes accompanied the princess’s coffin on it’s return journey. The Princess’s funeral was held on Saturday, September 6 in Westminster Abbey. “There were no outburst;s of emotion, no cruel words for the royal family, no anger at the media, who even in this hour of worship, swarmed in with questions and whirring cameras. “10
I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock. We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they, too, lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.
Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a truly British girl who transcended nationality, someone with a natural nobility who was classless, who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic. Today is our chance to say “thank you” for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life.
We will all feel cheated that you were taken from us so young, and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without, and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at our loss over the past week, and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward. There is a temptation to rush to canonize your memory. There is no need to do so.
You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humor with the laugh that bent you double, your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile, and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes, your boundless energy which you could barely contain. But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your wonderful attributes.
And if we look to analyze what it was about you that had such a wide appeal, we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Without your God-given sensitivity, we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and HIV sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of land mines. Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected. And here we come to another truth about her.
For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness, of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom. The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability, whilst admiring her for her honesty. The last time I saw Diana was on July the first, her birthday, in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honor at a charity fund-raising evening.
She sparkled, of course, but I would rather cherish the days I spent with her in March when she came to visit me and my children in our home in South Africa. I am proud of the fact that apart from when she was on public display meeting President Mandela, we managed to contrive to stop the ever-present paparazzi from getting a single picture of her. That meant a lot to her. These are days I will always treasure. It was as if we’d been transported back to our childhood, when we spent such an enormous amount of time together, the two youngest in the family.
Fundamentally she hadn’t changed at all from the big sister who mothered me as a baby, fought with me at school, and endured those long train journeys between our parents’ homes with me at weekends. It is a tribute to her level-headedness and strength that despite the most bizarre life imaginable after her childhood, she remained intact, true to herself. There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time. She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment she received at the hands of the newspapers.
I don’t think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling. My own, and only, explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum. It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest is this: That a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.
She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys, William and Harry, from a similar fate. And I do this here, Diana, on your behalf. We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair. Beyond that, on behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men, so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition but can ing openly as you planned. We fully respect the heritage into which they have both been born, and will always respect and encourage them in their royal role. But we, like you, recognize the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as possible, to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead. I know you would have expected nothing less from us. William and Harry, we all care desperately for you today. We are all chewed up with sadness at the loss of a woman who wasn’t even our mother.
How great your suffering is we cannot even imagine. I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies he has shown us at this dreadful time; for taking Diana at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had so much joy in her private life. Above all, we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister: the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana, whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds. “