It seems like only yesterday, but today marks the 15th anniversary of Princess Diana’s untimely passing after she died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris, France. She was just 36 when the world lost their ”Queen of Hearts”.
Here we look at 5 poignant moments in her life…
A shy teen thrust into the spotlight
Diana as just 19 when it was announced that she was to marry Prince Charles. Coming from aristocratic blood, Lady Diana was viewed as the perfect candidate for the future King of England (and it helped that she was a virgin). Speaking of the engagement in 1981 in a BBC interview, the 32-year-old Prince said he was “delighted and frankly amazed that Diana is prepared to take me on”.
Lady Diana said she too was “delighted and thrilled, blissfully happy”.
Asked how she would cope with a dramatic change to her life she said: “With Prince Charles beside me I cannot go wrong.”
Upon the announcement in 1981, Diana left her job as a kindergarten teaching aide and embarked on her new life as a royal.
Billed as the wedding of the century, a national holiday was declared for the occasion on 29 July 1981. The couple married in St Paul’s Cathedral watched by 3,500 invited guests and an estimated 750 million people around the world on live television.The sumptuous ivory taffeta and antique lace wedding dress was created by young British designers David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and had a 25-metre train.
A devoted mom
Diana’s devotion to her two children was evident for the world to see.
William, was born less than a year later after her and Charles wed on 21 June 1982. But by the time Prince Harry was born on 15 September 1984, the cracks in her marriage were becoming more obvious.
Despite the turmoil she was facing in her personal life, Diana showered her children with love.
Harry, who was 12 when he lost his mother, said his mother’s death was “indescribably shocking and sad”, and changed his life and that of his brother forever.
“When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly,” Harry has said.
Injecting British royalty with a dose of Hollywood glamor
The world watched Diana grow up from blushing teen to fashion trendsetter, and her style evoked images of old-school Hollywood glamour.
From her afternoons spent at the polo, to figure-skimming dresses by Versace, Diana’s style was regal, elegant and thoroughly modern. As it was once said, Diana wore the clothes, but they never wore Diana.
Even when her marriage fell apart and she was stripped of her title, Diana never stopped working tirelessly to raise awareness for children, the homeless, the disabled and those with HIV and AIDS.
When the then Princess of Wales visited a Harlem hospital in 1989 and hugged a 7-year-old boy with AIDS, she helped to “dispel the myth about the spread of the virus” by showing that it was not spread through casual contact, John J. Goldman reported in the Los Angeles Times.
She also campaigned for a ban on the use and manufacture of landmines.
But it is those powerful images of her comforting children that will remain one her greatest legacies … alongside that of being a wonderful mother.
As Prince William said at a memorial service in 2007: “Her beaming smile greeted us from school. She kissed us last thing at night. She was, quite simply, the best mother in the world. We miss her.”
He and Kate are now preparing for a trip to Singapore where he will see for the first time an orchid named in Diana’s honour.
Diana would be 51 now if she was still alive.