1961 - 1997
Princess of Wales, “Queen of Hearts”by Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Although her life was filled with adversity and tragic events, Diana Spencer
always had a burden for the less fortunate, the sick, and the needy. Even when
she was going through troubling times in her own life, she continued to remember
that there were others who were in pain, and that she had the ability to help
The girl who was to become Princess of Wales was born on the first of July in 1961, in Norfolk England, to the Viscount and Viscountess Althorp. Her tribulations began early in life, as her parents divorced when she was only six years old. Both of them remarried and Diana and her younger brother Charles split their childhood years between their two homes, while her two older sisters Sarah and Jane were away at boarding school.
For her education, Diana attended the exclusive West Heath boarding school in Kent for four years, but decided to drop out when she was sixteen. She then attended one term at a Swiss finishing school after which she ended her formal schooling and obtained a job as a nursery school teacher’s aide in London.
In February of 1981, Prince Charles proposed to Diana. During the official engagement announcement they appeared together in public for the first time. The marriage ceremony was held on July 29 of the same year, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, in front of 2,500 people and an estimated worldwide television audience of 750 million people. The couple’s first son, William, was born in 1982, and his brother Harry followed in 1984.
Near the end of the 1980’s, Princess Diana began to devote much of her time to charity work. Her favorite causes to support were subjects that were often taboo for the time; things like HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, and domestic abuse. To support different causes, she traveled thousands of miles around the world each year, sometimes taking her sons along with her so that they could see and understand the troubles and hardships of the less fortunate. Her dedication to the causes she believed in endeared her even more to the rest of the world, and the media still could not get enough of her. Her reputation as the “people’s princess” continued to grow, although it was around this time that reports first began of marital trouble between Charles and Diana. It was speculated in the press that both Charles and Diana were participating in extramarital affairs.
The truth behind these reports eventually drove the Prince and Princess apart. On the ninth of December, 1992, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace announced that Charles and Diana were separating.
A few years later, Queen Elizabeth II made an unprecedented decision and asked the couple to consider settling for a divorce. Diana consented in February of 1996, and broke official protocol by not informing the queen of her decision first. The royal family reached an agreement with the Princess that stated that she would be barred from ever succeeding to the throne and she was forced to drop the prefix Her Royal Highness from her name, shortening it to the simpler Diana, Princess of Wales.
Even through her heart-breaking and exhausting divorce, Diana chose to continue her charity work as far as possible. Once they were officially divorced, she cut the number of charities that she actively contributed to down to six, where it had once been near 110. She worked endlessly to support these causes and kept a tiring schedule of travel and public appearances. In June of 1997, Diana auctioned off 79 of her evening gowns at Christie’s in New York for the benefit of AIDS and cancer funds, raising more than $5.7 million.
In her tireless effort to increase awareness about land mines, Diana traveled to many conflict-filled areas such as Angola and the former Yugoslavia. She raised great controversy when she was photographed shaking hands with a man who was infected with AIDS, which was unheard of contact for the time. Acts of kindness like this were what endeared her to the world as the “queen of hearts” and the “people’s princess.” She did not care about her social standing as royalty. She only cared that there were people who were sick, dying, and lonely and that she could help them. For her efforts, she was awarded with various humanitarian prizes.
In August, 1997, the world was shocked to learn of the death of Princess Diana. She was killed in a car accident in the early hours of the morning after leaving a Paris hotel. The driver of the car (who was later found to have been intoxicated) was killed at the scene, as was Diana’s companion, Dodi al-Fayed. Diana died a few hours later after going into cardiac arrest at the age of 36. It was discovered that none of the passengers had been wearing seatbelts when the accident occurred.
Her death was met by disbelief and an outpouring of sorrow from all around the world. People came from all over to place flowers at Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Her funeral was televised and viewed by millions, and more than one million people lined the three mile funeral route to Westminster Abbey on the 6th of September, 1997.
Princess Diana is remembered to this day as the “queen of hearts” because of her selfless giving and stewardship to others. Even though she endured heartbreak and troubles such as divorce and grief in her own life, she realized that there were others with bigger struggles, and that she had the power to help them overcome as she had done. Her goal to be known as the “queen of people’s hearts” had been achieved through her love and compassion to the less fortunate.
Diana has been described as intensely religious. This was not the outward form which many see as sterile and irrelevant, but another reflection of our age: worship and believe as you please. Don't be concerned about morality. De inclusive. And her frequent dallying with clairvoyants and mystics - a sinful practice all too common in the aristocracy - is so "new age".
She belonged to a new generation. Her parents were divorced. She was a depressive.
Her marriage a loveless failure. She divorced after ten years. She had trouble
with her in-laws, attempting suicide in a cry for help. She was bulimic needing
psychiatric help, but she preferred an astrologer and a tarot card reader. She
could not cope with work and marriage. She lurched from one unhappy affair to
another and was willing to talk to anybody about her unhappiness. During another
affair, she was killed by speed, alcohol and a drunken driver.
At her funeral, her brother said: "For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost child-like 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." Diana, Princess of Wales, an X Generationist, was a post-modernist.
It is said that Prince Charles fell in love with Orthodoxy during his 1996 visit to Mount Athos with its 2,000 monks of various nationalities. He spent four hours at Vatopedi Monastery speaking with the Abbot and that there was some sort of ceremony held involving him - an induction as a catechumen perhaps? It is also said that the tragic death of his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 was the great catalyst toward Orthodoxy in the Prince's life