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Lady Diana Spencer

1961 - 1997

Princess of Wales

             Student Biography of Princess Diana

by: Krissy C.  -- Wheeling Park High School -- Dan Wilhelm, Teacher

      

        When you think of fairy tales, you think of a Princess and Prince living happily ever after.  This fairy tale is similar but has a twist in it.  Princess Diana Spencer has touched the lives on many people in many ways.  Some of the ways include her royalty in England, working with AIDS and HIV patients, and helping to banned landmines.  She is influential and an inspiration to many people across the whole globe.

            Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 in Sandringham, Norfolk, England.  She was the daughter of Earl Spencer and his wife, Frances.  Diana had two sisters and a younger brother, Charles.  She began her relationship with the Prince of Wales at age 18 and when the press realized his infatuation of her, they began photographing her.  Diana soon cultivated her charming but bashful smile and earned the nickname “Shy Di.”  In February 1981, Charles proposed to Diana and the wedding was planned for July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Their wedding was attended by over 2,500 in addition to an estimated over 750 million watching worldwide on a televised ceremony.  Later, Prince and Princess of Wales welcomed their new baby boy, William Arthur Philip Louis, to the world on June 21, 1982.  Two years later on September 15, 1984, Diana gave birth to Henry Charles Albert David.

            With Princess Diana’s kind heart she decided to help out with several serious problems in the World today.  Her first project was taking on such sensitive issues as HIV and AIDS, domestic abuse, and drug addiction.  She traveled hundreds of miles a year to support her favorite causes, often taking young Prince William with her. In June 1997, Diana auctioned off 79 of her evening gowns at Christie’s in New York.  The gowns collected over $5.7 million dollars, which was donated to AIDS and cancer funds.   Diana touched a patient dying of AIDS.  She said “HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug.”

            A major contribution to charity was when Princess Diana helped to ban landmines.  Hundreds of people were being killed from them and she wanted to make a difference.  She visited landmine projects in Travnic, Sarajevo and Zenezica.  Diana also traveled to such conflict-ridden areas as Angola and the former Yugoslavia on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in January 1997.  Some British politicians criticized her, but her visits to the victims drew world attention to the cause.  In the end, Diana contributed to over 100 different charities.

            Charles and Diana stared having marriage problems in the late 1980s and the press said that both Diana and Charles were having secret affairs.  Queen Elizabeth II made a decision asking the couple to consider a divorce.  They both agreed with the Queen’s will.  Though that time, she still continued with her charity work around the world.  She never let her divorce get in the way of seeing her children.  Weekends would be spent together playing polo, skiing, or just watching a movie.

In 1997, Diana began a relationship with Emad (Dodi) al-Fayed.  She was rumored to have been involved with a number of men in the years since her and marriage to Charles.  Dodi was believed to be her first serious relationship since the divorce.  On August 31, 1997, after leaving the Ritz in Paris, Diana and Dodi were involved in a fatal car accident, while trying to avoid the terrible paparazzi.  Dodi and the driver were killed instantly.  Diana was alive when found, but after a few hours, she was proclaimed dead of cardiac arrest at age 37.  Most blame their death on the paparazzi.  It was speculated that Diana and Dodi could have survived the accident if they were wearing seatbelts.  Approximately one million stood on the streets of England during the three-mile funeral procession, and the whole world was watching as they showed her funeral.  

            Fairy tales normally have a happy ending, but not this one.  It stared off with a “fairy tale wedding” then two beautiful children.  By this time, the road begins to get bumpy.  First, by committing adultery and having to divorce the Prince of Wales.  The worst part of this fairy tale is the ending, with the death of the “People’s Princess,” Diana Spencer of Wales.        

 The Eulogy
by the 9th Earl Spencer at the funeral of his sister, Princess Diana, in London:

  

“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 sing 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.”
   From “A Book of Remembrance.” By Courage Books

  

Bibliography

1.) “A Book of Remembrances.” Courage Books. 1997, Godalming, England. 

2.) “Princess Diana and Landmines.” Biography.com. 9 Feb. 2001  <http://www.biography.com/cgi-bim/biomain.cgi>. 

3.) “Princess Diana.” 8 Feb 2001. <http://www.royal.gov.uk/start.html>. 

4.) “Princess Diana.” 13 Feb 2001. <http://www.gepcities.com/tuareg69/diana/di_lob.html>. 

5.) Morton, Andrew, “Diana Her True Story.” Simon and Schuster. 1997, New York, NY.


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