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Remembering Diana

A look back at the princess we loved, and still miss

HRH, the Princess of Wales

En español | Diana posed for this portrait to commemorate her upcoming 21st birthday. At the time of the photo she was a newlywed bride, pregnant with her first child, Prince William, who arrived on June 21, 1982.

Spring 1982: Bettmann/Corbis

Once Upon a Time

When the Lady Diana Spencer and Charles, the Prince of Wales, became engaged, the press and public gawked over Diana's 12-carat sapphire ring, which is now worn by the daughter-in-law she would never meet: Prince William’s wife, the former Kate Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge.

Feb. 24, 1981: Tim Graham/Getty Images

The Fairy-Tale Wedding

Diana married her prince — with both a London and worldwide audience watching. Her billowing taffeta and lace gown, created by British designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel, featured a very hard-to-manage 25-foot train.

July 29, 1981: Getty Images

Shy Di

In her first public appearance after the royal wedding, Diana dressed to impress the Scottish crowd by donning tartan plaid for the Highland games at the annual Braemar Gathering. 

September 1981: Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Shy Di, or Sly Di?

Visiting Canada on her 22nd birthday, Diana appears both wary and wise. Fans showered her with so many cards and gifts that a TV reporter quipped about her husband, Charles: "The Prince’s duty was to collect the mail."

July 1983: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Sunny on a Rainy Day

While touring Scotland’s Western Isles, a place she frequented as a child, Diana’s smile shines despite the soggy weather.

July 1985: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Do the Hustle

As the band played a White House rendition of the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing,” Diana hit the dance floor to boogie with Saturday Night Fever star John Travolta. Nancy Reagan (seen on the sidelines) had arranged for the duo to dance.

November 1985: Corbis

Fashion Foibles

Did Diana have a secret desire to be a drum major in a marching band, or perhaps a waiter at a five-star restaurant? It looks that way from these two — rare — fashion misses.

April 1987: Jayne Fincher/Getty Images | April 1985: Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

Belle of the Ball

Attending parties is a job requirement of being a princess. Here, Diana arrives at a banquet for the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. (Really. It was a banquet for a company that makes hand-held fans, particularly for royals.)

December 1985: Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Diana and her sister-in-law, Prince Andrew’s wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York (ne: Sarah Ferguson, aka: Fergie), use their umbrellas to poke at Ascot-attending aristocrats. Their mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, was reportedly displeased by the antics. 

June 1987: Ken Goff/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Family Fun

With a smiling Charles watching, Diana serves as a mom chair for her sons William, 6, and Harry, 3, during a vacation in Mallorca, Spain. 

August 1987: Reuters/Hugh Peralta /Landov

The Fairy Tale Unravels

By the early ’90s, the fissures in Charles and Diana’s marriage were hard to hide. He pined for his former girlfriend (and, since 2005, wife) Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana was battling an eating disorder and is alleged to have had affairs.

January 1992: Anwar Hussein/PA Photos/Landov

Helping Hands

As her marriage crumbled, Diana ventured out into the world to use her fame and influence for greater good, such as by bringing attention to the needs of the world’s poor. She was a frequent visitor to Mother Teresa’s hospice in Calcutta, India. 

January 1992: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Fashion Forward

As Diana matured, so did her sense of style. Bows, stiff suits and shapeless dresses gave way to form-fitting fabrics, bare skin and plunging necklines. At 5 feet 10, the princess was able to dress with model-worthy aplomb. 

June 1995, January 1988, June 1994: Jayne Finher/Getty Images

Who’s That Girl?

Among Diana’s many charms, and one that made her so relatable, was that she regularly set aside the pomp and dressed like a regular person. Here, she leaves a London fitness club. Yes. The princess who could exercise in her own palace gym worked out among the people. 

November 1985: Andrew Murray/Sygma/Corbis

Diana, Princess of the World

Divorced from Charles in August 1996, Diana reemerged as a confident, healthy, no-longer-shy Di. She ended her connections to dozens of charities to focus on those she cared about most, including working with the Red Cross (such as in Angola, at left) to help landmine victims.

January 1997: Reuters/Juda Ngwenya

Va-Va-Voom

Freed from the confines of her marriage, the royal family and, likely, her own insecurities, Diana became a woman about town, hobnobbing with stars and powerbrokers on both sides of the Atlantic. She dressed to impress — and be noticed.

June and July 1997: AP, Jacqueline Arzt

Forever Young

Diana looks every bit the princess she was at a 1990 banquet honoring Japan’s emperor. We know how the story ends. On Aug. 31, 1997, soon after vacationing with William and Harry, then 15 and 12, Diana was killed in a car crash while being  chased by paparazzi in Paris. She was 36.

November 1990: Reuters/Corbis

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Video Extra

THE ROYAL WEDDING: See video from Prince Charles and Lady Diana's 1981 nuptials — including footage of the bride's pre-wedding jitters.

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