Diana, Princess of Wales, formerly Lady Diana Frances Spencer, was born on July 1, 1961 at Park House near Sandringham, Norfolk. She was the youngest daughter of the then Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, now the late (8th) Earl Spencer and the Hon. Mrs. Shand-Kydd, daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy. Earl Spencer was Equerry to George VI from 1950 to 1952, and to The Queen from 1952 to 1954. Lady Diana's parents, who had married in 1954, separated in 1967 and the marriage was dissolved in 1969. Earl Spencer later married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth in 1976.
Lady Diana was educated first at a preparatory school, Riddlesworth Hall at Diss, Norfolk, and then in 1974 went as a boarder to West Heath, near Sevenoaks, Kent. At school she showed a particular talent for music as an accomplished pianist, dancing and domestic science, and gained the school's award for the girl giving maximum help to the school and her schoolmates. She left West Heath in 1977 and went to finishing school at the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont, Switzerland, which she left after the Easter term of 1978. The following year she moved to a flat in Coleherne Court, London. For a while she looked after the child of an American couple, and she worked as a kindergarten teacher at the Young England School in Pimlico.
On February 24, 1981 it was officially announced that Lady Diana was to marry The Prince of Wales. As neighbors at Sandringham until 1975, their families had known each other for many years, and Lady Diana and the the prince had met again when he was invited to a weekend at Althorp in November 1977.
They were married at St Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981, in a ceremony which drew a global television and radio audience and thousands of people lining the route from Buckingham Palace to the Cathedral. The wedding reception was at Buckingham Palace.
The marriage was solemnized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Runcie, together with the Dean of St Paul's; clergy from other denominations read prayers.
After her marriage, The Princess of Wales quickly became involved in the official duties of the Royal family. Her first tour with The Prince was a three-day visit to Wales in October 1981. In 1983 she accompanied The Prince on a tour of Australia and New Zealand, and they took the infant Prince William with them. Prince William, with Prince Harry, again joined The Prince and Princess at the end of their tour to Italy in 1985. Other official overseas visits undertaken with The Prince included Australia (for the bicentennial celebrations in 1988), Brazil, India, Canada, Nigeria, Cameroon, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Japan (for the enthronement of Emperor Akihito). Their last joint overseas visit was to South Korea in 1992.
The Princess of Wales had two sons. Prince William Arthur Philip Louis was born on 21 June 1982 and Prince Henry (Harry) Charles Albert David on 15 September 1984, both at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in London. The Princess had seventeen godchildren.
The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales occurred on August 31, 1997 following a car accident in Paris, France. The vehicle in which the Princess was traveling was involved in a high-speed accident in the Place de l'Alma underpass in central Paris shortly before midnight on August 30. The Princess was taken to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, where she underwent two hours of emergency surgery before being declared dead. The Princess's companion, Mr. Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the vehicle died in the accident, while a bodyguard was seriously injured.