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Princess Diana's Lifelong Love of Children

The late Princess of Wales would have been a young — thrilled — 'granny'

The People's Princess

En español | If Princess Diana hadn't died in a high-speed car crash in a Paris tunnel on Aug. 31, 1997, she would be a first-time grandmother — at only 52 years old — thanks to the July 22 arrival of William and Kate's baby boy. Diana would have reveled in the role.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Iconic Intro

Lady Diana Spencer was a 19-year-old kindergarten aide when she was introduced to the world in 1980 as Prince Charles's fiancée. Diana had a special rapport with children — her own and those she met while doing her royal work.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

A Down-to-Earth Royal

Because she was so comfortable with little ones, Diana sought them out as she learned to handle royal engagements. During an outing with fiancé Prince Charles in March 1981, she crouched to meet a young girl at eye level, as she would often do with children.

Terry Fincher/Getty Images

Here Comes the Bride

Some 750 million watching on TV waited for Diana to walk down the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral to meet her prince, but the bride (with soon-to-be mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth) was wrangling her young bridesmaids, including Clementine Hambro, 5, Winston Churchill's great-granddaughter.

Lichfield/Getty Images

Mother-to-Be

It was no surprise that Diana was expecting soon after her wedding, nor that she continued making appearances during her pregnancy. (She's greeting children at a London community center in May 1982.) The unexpected? British tabloids were already hinting at her marital unhappiness.

Georges DeKeerle/Getty Image

Child's Play

Diana was affiliated with many charities, but the causes she kept close all her life were those that had to do with children. A windswept princess had some fun with youngsters at the new Charlie Chaplin Adventure Playground for handicapped youth in South London in September 1982.

John Manning/Times Newspapers/Newscom

Young Mum

The royal couple posed with Prince William (born in June 1982) for a family portrait in early 1983. (Prince Harry arrived in September 1984.) The boys called Queen Elizabeth "Granny," and their children would have called Diana by the same name. It's an upper-crust British appellation.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Charity at Home

Visiting the head office of Barnardo's in 1985, Diana was just beginning her long commitment to the British charity that helps children in need. As president of the organization for 12 years, from 1984 to 1996, she attended more than 110 events to support its efforts.

David Levenson/Getty Images

Hands-on Mum

Holding a mischievous Prince Harry, then 3, Diana stood with Prince William, Lady Gabriella Windsor and Lady Rose Windsor to watch a 1988 procession of the British and Commonwealth armies from a Buckingham Palace balcony.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Family Holiday

Always an active and in-the-trenches mom, Diana played in the sand with her sons (ages 5 and 7) and nephews during a 1990 visit to the British Virgin Islands estate of business magnate Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Real-World Princess

The British tabloids were focused on her marital troubles, but in the U.S., People magazine marveled that Diana, who greeted young admirers in Derbyshire in June 1990, was "forging an emotional connection with her countrymen that few other Windsors have achieved."

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Keeping Her Commitments

In the spring of 1991, as rumors swirled that the Prince and Princess of Wales' marriage was over, Diana kept at her royal duties, traveling to Brazil, where she exhibited her famous ease and unself-conscious physical contact with children — many of them living with disability or disease.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

Bittersweet Times

While her marriage was disintegrating publicly — Charles confessed to adultery; Diana's affair with a cavalry officer was acknowledged — she continued her royal work, greeting a little girl at the opening of an English foundation for the disabled in 1995.

Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

Coming Into Her Own

Divorced from Charles in 1996, Diana found  meaningful work with the Red Cross. In 1997, on a visit to Pakistan, she held a child in her lap. That summer she vacationed with William and Harry at the St. Tropez villa of Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed and began a romance with his son, Dodi.

Alamy

The Personal Touch

Helping land mine victims, such as this child amputee in Angola in 1997, was a cause close to Diana's heart. The princes have taken up their mom's youth-focused charity. William supports programs for homeless young people; Harry cofounded an organization for children in Lesotho.

Ian Jones/Zuma Press/Newscom

Her Final Days

Diana visited land mine victims in Bosnia just two weeks before her death, at age 36. On Sept. 6, 1997, mourners lined London's streets for her funeral. On the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, Harry said, "To us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world."

Dave Chancellor/Zuma Press/Newscom

Her Legacy

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — aka Prince William's wife, the former Kate Middleton — has showed the same gentle ease Diana had with young people. Here, the 31-year-old princess goes about her engagements while awaiting the birth of her own royal baby.

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The Proud Parents

William and Kate welcomed their first child on July 22, 2013. The 8-pound, 6-ounce baby boy is third in line to the throne, after his grandfather, Prince Charles, and dad William. The couple introduced the newborn to the public on July 23 and revealed his name as George Alexander Louis on July 24.

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Images

More Diana, More Slideshows

See more photos of Princess Diana (including her 21st birthday portrait at left): Remembering Diana.


Check out these celebrity slideshows, too:
Daddy or Granddaddy — or 'Papadaddy'?
No Way They're 50-Plus!

Bettmann/Corbis

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THE PEOPLE'S PRINCESS: Learn about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

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