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Princess Diana's Lifelong Love of Children

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

  • Princess Diana would be a 52-year-young grandmother this summer
    Tim Graham/Getty Images

    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.

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  • Lady Diana Spencer as a kindergarten aide in 1980 with two children. (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/Newscom)
    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.

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  • Lady Diana Spencer talks with a young girl during a visit to Broadlands with Prince Charles shortly after their engagement. (Terry Fincher/Photographers International/Getty Images)
    Terry Fincher/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.

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  • Princess Diana is photographed on her wedding day with Queen Elizabeth II and her bridesmaids on July 19, 1981. (Lichfield/Getty Images)
    Lichfield/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.

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  • Princess Diana during a visit to a community center in May 1982. (Georges DeKeerle/Getty Images)
    Georges DeKeerle/Getty Image


    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.

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  • Princess Diana in 1982 with children at the Charlie Chaplin Adventure Playground for handicapped children. (John Manning/Times Newspapers/Newscom)
    John Manning/Times Newspapers/Newscom

    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.

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  • The Prince And Princess Of Wales Holding Their Baby Son, Prince William, At Home In Kensington Palace (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
    Tim Graham/Getty Images

    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.

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  • Princess Diana visits with children at Dr. Barnado's Village Home in Barkingside, February 1985. (David Levenson/Getty Images)
    David Levenson/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.

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  • Prince Harry stuck out his tongue while being held by his mother, Princess Diana, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in June 1988. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
    Tim Graham/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.

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  • Princess Diana being buried in the sand by Prince William and Prince Harry during a 1990 vacation. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
    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.

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  • Princess Diana talks to the crowd during a royal visit in 1990. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
    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."

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  • Princess Diana holds hands with two children during a visit to a school in Carajas, Brazil in April 1991. (Tim Graham/Getty Images)
    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.

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  • Princess Diana holding hands with a young girl in 1995. (Jayne Fincher/Getty Images)
    Jayne Fincher/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.

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  • Princess Diana holds a young patient during a 1997 visit to Lahore, Pakistan. (Alamy)

    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.

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  • Princess Diana visits a young girl at an orthopedic workshop in Angola, January 1997. (Ian Jones/Zuma Press/Newscom)
    Ian Jones/Zuma Press/Newscom

    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.

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  • Princess Diana visits with landmine victims in Bosnia, August 18, 1997. (Dave Chancellor/Zuma Press/Newscom)
    Dave Chancellor/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."

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  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is presented with flowers during a visit to Naomi House Children's Hospice. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
    Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

    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.

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  • Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, welcome their newborn son, the Prince of Cambridge.
    Lefteris Pitarakis/AP 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.

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  • Princes Diana, white dress (Bettmann/Crobis)

    More Diana, More Slideshows

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

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