This week sees Royal Central’s first 10 questions and answers based on a historic royal. Today, we give you 10 questions and answers on Diana, Princess Of Wales. Next week we have one of our contributors doing 10 Questions & Answers on Prince Harry of Wales.
Question 1: What’s Diana’s background, was she royal before marrying Prince Charles?
Diana, Princess Of Wales was born as The Honourable Diana Spencer on 1st July 1961 to Viscount and Viscountess Althorp. Diana’s parents weren’t royal but they were aristocratic and in 1975, her father acceded to the family title of Earl Spencer. As follows the custom of daughters of Earls, Diana was entitled to the title of ‘The Lady’, from 1975, she became ‘The Lady Diana Spencer’, which is why people commonly refer to her as ‘Lady Di’.
Question 2: Did Diana have any brothers or sisters?
Yes. Diana was the 3rd child and youngest daughter of Frances Shand Kydd and John Spencer, Earl Spencer. Her siblings were: Lady Sarah McCorquodale; Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes; The Hon. John Spencer; Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer.
Question 3: Was Prince Charles always going to marry Diana?
No, although the couple ended up being matched, Prince Charles was originally associated with Lady Sarah, Diana’s sister. The Prince of Wales had known Lady Diana for several years, but he first took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. The Prince Of Wales proposed on 6 February 1981, and Lady Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks. Diana was just 19 when she became engaged to Charles!
Question 4: What happened at the wedding, what was it like?
The wedding of the Prince Of Wales and Lady Diana was a spectacular event, set at St Paul’s Cathedral rather than the norm, Westminster Abbey. Diana wore a train of 25 metres on a dress designed by The Emanuel’s. Diana’s train was the longest in royal history, previously being at 23 metres. The ceremony was attended by all major members of the Royal Family, clergy and government of the day, as well as overseas ambassadors and Commonwealth members. Throughout the whole ceremony, Diana only made one noticeable mistake. At one point during the vows, she called Prince Charles ‘Philip Charles Arthur George’, when his name was ‘Charles Philip Arthur George’. She stunned commentators at the time also by omitting the part of the vows where she would promise to obey her husband. Upon marriage she became HRH The Princess Of Wales and became the second highest ranking woman in the land, after The Queen.
Question 5: Was Diana related to Royalty before she married into the family?
Yes. Like many members of the aristocracy and some royal brides, Diana’s lineage did span to royal houses and Monarchs, including: Mary, Queen of Scots, Lady Catherine Grey, Mary Boleyn, and Robert I (The Bruce).
Question 6: What about Diana’s sons, William and Harry?
His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales [now Duke Of Cambridge] was born on 21st June 1982, William’s godparents were the former King Constantine II of Greece (his cousin), Princess Alexandra, Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Westminster, Lady Susan Hussey, Lord Romsey, and Sir Laurens van der Post. He was named after Prince William of Gloucester, his father’s seven-years older cousin and personal hero, who died in 1972 in an aeroplane crash due to an overheated engine. His Royal Highness Prince Henry ‘Harry’ of Wales was born on 15th September 1984, Harry’s godparents were Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Lady Vestey, Mrs William Bartholomew, Bryan Organ and Gerald Ward.
Question 7: Why did Diana divorce from the Prince Of Wales?
In December 1995, the Queen asked the Prince and Princess of Wales for “an early divorce”, as a direct result of the Princess’s Panorama interview. This followed shortly after the Princess’ accusation that Tiggy Legge-Bourke had aborted the Prince’s child, after which Legge-Bourke instructed Peter Carter-Ruck to demand an apology. Two days before this story broke, Diana’s secretary Patrick Jephson resigned, later writing that the Princess had “exulted in accusing Legge-Bourke of having had an abortion”.
On 20 December 1995, Buckingham Palace publicly announced the Queen had sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales advising them to divorce. The Queen’s move was backed by the Prime Minister and by senior Privy Counsellors, and, according to the BBC, was decided after two weeks of talks. The Prince immediately agreed with the suggestion. In February, the Princess announced her agreement after negotiations with the Prince and representatives of the Queen, irritating Buckingham Palace by issuing her own announcement of a divorce agreement and its terms.
The divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. Diana received a lump sum settlement of around £17 million along with a clause standard in royal divorces preventing her from discussing the details.
Question 8: What was Diana’s title after her divorce?
Days before the decree absolute of divorce, Letters Patent were issued with general rules to regulate royal titles after divorce. In accordance, as she was no longer married to the Prince of Wales, Diana lost the style Her Royal Highness and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales. As the mother of the prince expected to one day ascend the thrones, she was accorded the same precedence she enjoyed during her marriage.
Question 9: Was Diana ever ‘Princess Diana’?
No! This is the most common misconception about the late Princess Of Wales. People assume that because she has Princess in her title, she must be Princess Diana, this is not how it works. Take for instance, the now Duchess Of Cambridge. No one would incorrectly refer to her as ‘Duchess Kate’, by the same token, just because Diana was Princess Of Wales, doesn’t mean she was ‘Princess Diana’. After her divorce, she was Diana, Princess Of Wales. Before – she was HRH The Princess Of Wales.
Though she was never Princess Diana, she was a Princess… by marriage. Technically, whilst she was married to Prince Charles she was ‘Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles’!
Question 10: What actually happened in the tunnel on that fateful night?
On 31 August 1997, Diana died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were also pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The bodyguard of Diana and Dodi, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor. Although the media pinned the blame on the paparazzi, the crash was ultimately found to be caused by the reckless actions of the chauffeur, who was the head of security at the Ritz and had earlier goaded the paparazzi waiting outside the hotel.
An 18-month French judicial investigation concluded in 1999 that the crash was caused by Paul, who lost control of the car at high speed while drunk. His inebriation may have been made worse by the simultaneous presence of an anti-depressant and traces of a tranquilizing anti-psychotic in his body.
At around 2:00 pm, Diana’s former husband, Charles, Prince of Wales, and two older sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, arrived in Paris; they left with her body 90 minutes later.