This is the first installment in a series of photos and videos remembering Princess Diana as we approach the 20th anniversary of her shocking death, on Aug. 31, 1997. Please share your thoughts and memories of Diana in our Icons community forum.
The world was enthralled by the pretty new love interest of Prince Charles, England’s most eligible bachelor and heir to the throne, in the summer of 1980. Lady Diana Frances Spencer, a demure-looking 19-year-old, found herself suddenly under an inconceivably bright spotlight. The press slathered her with attention, dubbing her “Shy Di” for the way she’d duck her head as their cameras flashed. The public adored her.
But for all her bashful innocence, Diana was no stranger to life among the upper crust. She was “manor born,” as they say, to Viscount Althorp (Edward Spencer) and Frances Spencer, becoming Lady Diana when her father inherited the earldom in 1975.
When she met her 32-year-old Prince Charming (or, at least, her Prince Charles), Diana was working as an assistant teacher in London, where she’d moved not long after dropping out of boarding school, at 16. Their well-documented courtship — paparazzi captured the future princess’s every blush — evolved over country weekends at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, polo matches and outings aboard the royal yacht Britannia. In February 1981, after receiving the blessing of the Queen, Prince Charles popped the question, a seemingly besotted Diana accepted, and romantics swooned. Their future looked so bright.