Diana, Princess of Wales captivated the world when she married into the House of Windsor. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get the same unconditional love or attention from her husband nor her in-laws. From there, she was sucked into a whirlwind of struggle and scandal that ended with her untimely death. But, as we’ll see, that’s just one part of it—and the real story of Princess Diana is so much more tragic than people know.
Diana Spencer eventually occupied the ultra-stressful position of wife of the heir to the British throne—but even that was nothing compared to the pressure cooker she was born into. Her parents John and Frances Spencer were both high-ranking nobles desperate for a male heir. In 1960, they gave birth to their third child, a son, only for him to die ten hours later.
Diana’s birth followed a year and a half year, in July of 1961—thrusting her into the center of a family strained to the limit and still mourning for her lost brother.
Three years after Diana’s birth, the family felt some of their pressure relieved when Frances gave birth to a son, Charles—but it soon became clear that even this blessing wouldn’t alleviate the unhappiness that pervaded the Spencer family. Diana’s elder sisters left for boarding school as soon as they could, and Diana did her best to shield her little brother from the strife in her parent’s marriage—but there was no one to protect her, and the consequences were dire.
When Diana’s parents’ marriage eventually imploded, it was incredibly dramatic. However, it was only as an adult that she finally revealed the horrific details of what happened behind closed doors. Diana claimed that there was physical abuse in the relationship, as well as plenty of infidelity. Publicly, it appeared that it all fell apart when her mother left her father for another man. In reality, there was a lot more to the story than that.
When Frances left John Spencer, it started a horrible chain reaction that damaged the lives of everyone connected to them. After their divorce, John took Frances to court for custody of Diana and her siblings—and he had a devastating witness of his side: Frances’ own mother. She was his secret weapon, and she made sure that the deal was done.
At just seven, Diana’s father had her ripped away from her mother. It left her absolutely bereft.
After the custody battle, Frances Spencer could only see her kids on the weekend. Diana later recalled just how painful the situation was. She said it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to her mother after their visits, and how it broke her heart to see her mother cry every Saturday night as their time together wound down.
A series of nannies raised Diana and Charles until it was time for her to enter boarding school like her older sisters—not that she had much in common with them.
While her older sisters Sarah and Jane were good students, Diana was not academically-minded. Her parent’s divorce had disrupted her education at a pivotal point, and while she enjoyed extracurricular activities and was something of a social butterfly, she didn’t take her studies seriously. There was one thing she did have in common with her sisters, though—she would often get crushes on their ex-boyfriends.
And, as we’ll see, that interest would eventually play into a pivotal moment in her life.
When she wasn’t away at school, Diana grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. The Spencers leased the house from its owner, Queen Elizabeth II. The royals frequently holidayed nearby at Sandringham House and would occasionally get together with the Spencers—an event that Diana greatly dreaded, even though she was occasional pals with Princes Andrew and Edward.
Of course, it wouldn’t the last time that a visit to the Royal Family would fill her with apprehension.
Diana and her little brother Charles had made the best of a bad situation—but in 1976, their father once again ripped their entire lives out from under them. Diana had really only ever called Norfolk home, but that year, her father moved the entire family to Northamptonshire when he remarried to Raine, Countess of Dartmouth. While Diana doted on her stepfather (and he on her), her bitter relationship with her new stepmother was like something out of Cinderella…
Diana and her siblings nicknamed their new wicked stepmother “Acid Raine”—but that was just a fraction of the vitriol they felt. During a party at Althorp, the family home, they got into a raging fight after Raine slighted Diana’s mother, who’d once been lady of the house. Diana got so mad that she nearly pushed Raine down the stairs—and later, when tragedy struck, Diana’s resentment only grew stronger.
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In 1978, a friend of Diana’s asked how her father was. At that moment, a chilling premonition came over her. She told the friend: “I’ve got a strange feeling that he’s going to drop down,” and she was right. The next day, she received news that he’d collapsed after suffering a brain hemorrhage—but the nightmare was just beginning.
Raine blocked John Spencer’s children from seeing him in the hospital. While John eventually recovered, this only added fuel to the fire between the Spencer siblings and Raine.
The misery at home didn’t exactly drive Diana to try any harder at school—and eventually, it came back to bite her. After failing her O-levels (British school exams) twice, Diana dropped out of school at 16. She envisioned that she’d finally get a measure of freedom away from the family drama, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.
Diana’s parents forbade her from getting an apartment or moving to London until she was 18—so, she came up with a plan to ensure her freedom. She became a nanny to a family in Hampshire, and after two long years, finally made it to London. While there, she lived in a house with a bunch of girls, and took on a series of low-paying jobs, including more nannying, teaching dance, and even some cleaning work.
It was one of the happiest times of her life—but back home, the rest of her family were looking toward loftier pursuits.
When Diana went back to Althorp to visit family, she found her sister Sarah entertaining an unexpected guest: Prince Charles, the elder brother of Diana’s childhood playmates Andrew and Edward. One thing was clear: Sarah had a big crush. Later, a biographer asked Diana what she thought of the prince when she saw him at Althorp. Her answer was unforgettably brutal.
Diana remembered thinking, “God, what a sad man.” And she didn’t stop there.
On top of that, Diana recalled that her sister Sarah “was all over him [Charles] like a bad rash.” Diana could tell that Charles liked her, and despite her initial opinion of him, she was flattered. But still, she was only 16, and her sister was the one who was into him. So, nothing happened—that, until her 19th birthday.
By then, Sarah had taken the hint that Charles wasn’t interested in her. Still, Diana never expected what happened when she visited a friend for a weekend at the same time as Charles. They were sitting together and she remarked on his appearance at the funeral for his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten. She told him how he’d looked lonely. His next move shocked her to the core.
As Diana put it, he practically jumped on her. Then, he demanded that she cut the weekend short and come back to Buckingham with him. She had no idea what to do—and it was only going to get more confusing from there.
While Diana fended off Charles’ advances that weekend, he asked her on an upcoming sailing trip, which she went to. Then, she went for a weekend at Balmoral, his family’s castle. When Charles wanted her to spend time with him, it both flattered and excited her. Still, it quickly became clear that she was in way over her head.
She’d never had a boyfriend before, and didn’t know what was normal. Still, when Charles called her apartment and said that he had an important question to ask, she knew that something big was on the horizon.
Throughout it all, Diana leaned on her loyal flatmates for guidance, as well as a handful of girls she’d met through Charles—and she was getting most of her advice from an unexpected source. Charles’ “friend” Camilla Parker Bowles always had a lot to say to Diana about the prince’s behavior, but it took her a while to realize just why Camilla was such an expert source.
By then, it was too late.
The next time that Diana went to see Charles, told her he’d missed her and asked her to marry him—but there was a chilling side to the romantic moment. Despite the sentimental words coming out of Charles’ mouth, there was no love behind his eyes or affection in his gestures. He even gave himself away with one unsettling sentence, telling her: “I love you so much…whatever love means.”
Diana knew that something was off—but she was simply too young and naïve to recognize the giant red flags in her midst.
The absurdity of the situation—her brief (not-so-romantic) romance with Charles, their age difference, and the fact that, if she said yes, she could one day become the Queen of England—left Diana stunned and overwhelmed. Even though they’d only seen each other maybe 13 times in total, she accepted his proposal. However, she was once again struck with a strange feeling. Diana said she knew, even then, that she’d never become queen.
She set off for Australia to enjoy a few weeks of solitude—knowing that when the press found out, they’d upend her life forever. Oh, how right she was.
Despite how unconventional their relationship had been, Diana did actually believe that Charles loved her. Unfortunately for her, he had a strange way of showing it. When she was in Australia, Charles didn’t call her once. Then, when she came back, someone from his office brought her a bouquet of flowers. She was delighted—until she realized that there was no card, which meant that he probably had nothing to do with it.
It was more likely that a conscientious secretary had orchestrated the whole thing. Sadly, this cold front was just a sad omen for what was to come.
As soon as the press realized that Diana was in Charles’ life, they descended on her like vultures. Yet few people realize just how bad it was, even back then. She still lived with flatmates, but none of them could receive calls from family because of reporters constantly calling. While Charles called Diana to relay Camilla’s complaint about four reporters outside her window, Diana had 34 outside hers.
Still, she never complained—but she did start to come up with her own ways to deal with it.
While avoiding the constant barrage of press, Diana began to learn how to avoid them—but one of her methods was not only dangerous, it also foreshadowed her dark fate. She was still a new driver, but Diana realized that one of the most effective ways of getting paparazzi off her back was to speed through a green light at the last second, leaving them in her dust.
Eventually, she reached out for help—but she was in for a sad surprise.
Long before her marriage or any of the trouble that followed, Diana got her first taste of what dealing with Buckingham Palace would be like. When she asked what could be done about the reporters stalking her, she expected a helping hand from her new family. Instead, she only found the iron fist of “the Firm.” They told her that she was on her own.
Things didn’t exactly get better when the engagement became public knowledge.
There was a flurry of activity after the Palace finally announced Charles and Diana’s engagement. In the melee, someone brought Diana to the Queen Mum’s residence. She expected a warm welcome into the family—but that wasn’t what she got. Instead, no one greeted her, and everyone asked her why she’d come there. When she moved to Buckingham Palace, things didn’t get much better…
Though Diana spent the remainder of her engagement at Buckingham Palace, her future family’s home, the Windsors basically left her to her own devices. She had to leave her job as a nursery teacher’s assistant, and more than anything, she missed her old flatmates. It was incredibly lonely—so when the chance to take part in her first public appearance came up, she jumped at the opportunity.
Charles and Diana’s first appearance as an engaged couple was at a charity ball at Goldsmiths’ Hall, where she met another iconic princess—Grace of Monaco. Keeping track of all the social rules and mores overwhelmed Diana, and Grace sensed it. She pulled Diana aside and listened as she poured her heart out—and then offered a grave warning.
Though she said it as a joke, when Grace told Diana “Don’t worry…it gets worse,” there was definitely a dark truth to it for both of them.
Living in Buckingham during the engagement brought Diana closer to Charles—but not in the way she wanted. In fact, their proximity set her up for a devastating surprise. Once, she overheard him on the phone telling Camilla “Whatever happens, I will always love you.” She also quickly caught on to their nicknames for each other, Gladys and Fred, when she found out that he’d had a bracelet made for her engraved with those names.
She was stunned. For the first time, she began to think she should get out—so she turned to her sisters.
When Diana told her older sisters that her fiancé was in love with someone else, their reaction was unusual. They laughed and told her that it was too late, so she better get used to it. It seems a bit brutal, but Diana knew they were right, and that the only way to get through it would be to make jokes about it. Still, it led to some terrible tension between Diana and Charles.
The wedding approached, and for Diana, there was no turning back. She remembered the week of the event as exhausting—and it brought out a dark side in her. That week, she began bingeing and purging as a way to deal with the stress and pressure. Sadly, this wouldn’t be her last time battling the eating disorder.
On July 29, 1981, Diana Spencer walked down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral to face Charles, Prince of Wales. She was just a little late, her voluminous gown having slowed her down in the carriage on the way there and during her walk up the aisle. She said her vows in front of an audience of 3,500 guests, with two million spectators waiting outside to greet the couple—not to mention the estimated 750 million watching at home.
The pressure had been on before, but it was nothing compared to this.
As she walked up the aisle, Diana forgot all the days she’d spent crying that week and instead focused on the extravagant ceremony unfolding in front of her. In that moment, her thoughts of how in love she was with her new husband overwhelmed every ounce of fear and apprehension—even the knowledge that Camilla was sitting there in the church, watching them.
The ceremony looked like a fairy tale—but it had more than its fair share of stumbles. While saying her vows, Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles’s first two names. She wasn’t alone, with Charles making an error of his own in the vows—but that wasn’t all. There was one thing that set apart their vows from the royals that had come before them.
As a couple, they had requested to omit the vow where the bride promises to “obey” the groom. It was a progressive choice, and one that caused a bit of a scandal—an early taste of what was to come.
All the trappings of romance surrounded them, convincing Diana that “happily ever after” was on the horizon. Sadly, it was all an illusion—and during their honeymoon, it came crashing down. During the first leg of their trip, Diana realized that Charles was more interested in the books he’d brought. On top of that, they were rarely alone for more than a moment.
Diana’s bulimia came roaring back, and people could tell that something was wrong with her—but they had no idea just how bad it was.
For the first three months of their marriage, Diana became obsessed with Camilla, and dreamed about her every night. The fact that Charles flaunted their connection didn’t help. Finally, Diana found some reprieve when she got pregnant in October of 1981. Her pregnancy became a fantastic distraction from her situation, and it allowed her to settle a bit more into her new role as the Princess of Wales.
Princess Diana’s pregnancy wasn’t easy on her, and it ravaged her already-fragile body. Just a few months into her pregnancy, Diana gave herself and the court the shock of a lifetime when she suffered a horrible fall down the stairs. Luckily, she and the fetus were fine. However, few remember the dark truth about her “accident.”
Years later, Diana confessed that she’d purposely thrown herself down the stairs that day after a fight with Charles…but the story didn’t end there.
Charles had stormed off to go riding after their fight, sparking Diana’s decision to throw herself down the stairs. While Queen Elizabeth was absolutely horrified by the incident, Charles’ reaction was devastatingly brutal. He didn’t appear worried at all and he completely dismissed Diana. Her cries for help were falling on deaf ears—and it was only going to get worse.
As the months of her pregnancy wore on, Diana couldn’t take it anymore, and asked for an induction to be scheduled. Their son Prince William was born healthy and happy in June of 1982—but Diana’s bliss as a new mother was cut short by post-partum depression and the growing divide between her and her in-laws. Diana recalls her pain was like a deep abyss—and as a result, the years after giving birth to William almost went by in a blur.
In 1984, Princess Diana and Prince Charles were pregnant once again—and this time, everything was different. She wasn’t as sick, and in the final months of her pregnancy, Diana and Charles were closer than they’d ever been. However, she was hiding a secret from him. Diana knew that Charles wanted a girl—but she’d seen on the scans that she was carrying a boy.
Regardless, she thought that this happy period would carry them through the birth of their second child. Oh, how wrong she was.
The final six weeks of Diana’s pregnancy marked the high point of her marriage to Charles. Sadly, it all came to a crashing halt. When their son Prince Harry was born, Charles retreated from Diana once more. He even expressed his disappointment to the queen, who snapped back that he should be happy to have a healthy child.
Does that mean that Queen Elizabeth was on Diana’s side? Not quite…
Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth didn’t get along, per se, but according to Diana, there was a form of mutual respect between the two while she was still with Charles. Unfortunately, the queen attributed all of their marital problems to Diana’s bulimia, and claimed that it was the source of Charles’ issues. If only she’d known what her son was doing behind closed doors...
Diana and Charles’ fights got worse and worse—until they took an unforgettably disturbing turn. When Charles would refuse to acknowledge her or what she was expressing, she would turn to self-harm, often cutting herself in front of him. Charles would either ignore her or tell her that she was “crying wolf”—but in reality, Diana knew exactly what she needed.
The pressures and demands on Diana were intense, and she acted out with self-harm and bulimia. When she talked to doctors and psychologists, they recommended pills. But through it all, Diana thought that if she could just get some rest, she might be able to pull herself back from the brink. Sadly, those closest to her ignored her pleas for help—and her breakneck schedule of royal engagements continued. While she loved her charity work, everything else filled her with dread.
It was five years into their marriage, and Diana was living on tenterhooks. Finally, something drove her over the edge. When she realized that Charles was with Camilla again, it absolutely devastated her. But this time, instead of falling in on herself, she sought out happiness and reprieve amongst the misery.
Diana watched as Charles and Camilla reignited their romance—and thought “two can play at that game.” Her attention fell on James Hewitt, a member of the Household Cavalry, and her riding instructor. But this wasn’t just a passing fancy. Diana and Hewitt’s romance went from fling to long-term affair—and, of course, led to its own share of troubles for the princess.
Of course, Charles wasn’t the only source of her problems—his whole family was. Even though she generally got along with everyone, the press played her off all of them, which only increased the tension. When Sarah Ferguson came on the scene, they had a particularly icy relationship…that is, until the moment a horrible accident brought them together.
Princes Charles and Andrew were on a skiing trip in Switzerland with their wives and entourages in 1988. Fergie, who was pregnant, came back shaken after a fall and Diana was helping her to bed when they overheard an aide mention an avalanche. They both froze in fear, as their husbands were still out there on the mountain.
Finally, after a tense few moments, Charles called to report that he and his brother were fine—but sadly, that they’d lost their friend Major Hugh Lindsay. At that moment, Diana sprung into action.
The accident left Charles so shocked that Diana took charge of the situation and began the arrangements to return Lindsay’s body to his wife—but as the days wore on, the tragedy deepened. Lindsay had been married for less than a year, and his young wife Sarah was six or seven months pregnant. Diana took care of the funeral arrangements and took care of Sarah through it all—but for the royal family, the worst was yet to come.
Diana and Charles thought the nightmare of the accident was over—but it was actually just beginning. The authorities began to investigate the incident to see if they could charge with negligence Charles over it, as he’d been the one in charge of the party who went skiing. Ultimately, they decided not to charge him—but they did establish that his group had, without a doubt, caused the avalanche with left Lindsay and another skier dead.
How did Charles take out his stress and grief over the situation? On his long-suffering wife, of course. At first, Diana fell back into her old habits—bingeing and purging—but finally, she began to crawl out of the hole she was in. A friend called and gave her an ultimatum: get treatment for the bulimia or I’ll tell the world about it. And that’s exactly what Diana did.
Seeing a doctor and dealing with the bulimia replenished Diana and gave her the strength to stand up to her husband. Not just that—she finally stood up to Camilla, too. Usually, Diana avoided her like the plague, but when she got the invite to Camilla’s sisters 40th in 1989, she knew she couldn’t let Charles go alone. After letting Charles and Camilla have their time together, she entered the room where they were and asked Charles and his friend to leave.
Then, she finally confronted the woman who’d haunted her for the past ten years.
Diana was extraordinarily calm as she sat down in front of Camilla and politely told her that she knew exactly what was happening between her and her husband. She didn’t make any extraordinary demands. All that she asked was for them to not treat her like an idiot. With that, she left—with an extraordinary weight off her shoulders. While it did little to stem Charles and Camilla’s affair, it was a massive step (the first of many) for Diana.
Bulimia had served to isolate Diana from not just her husband and everyone else around her—but from humanity as a whole. When she came out of it, she finally was able to make connections, and became the woman that everyone began to call the “People’s Princess.” She began to spend her time talking with people—be it on the street, or in a cancer ward—and listening to their stories.
And in the process, she changed herself and the world around her.
Diana was one of very few public figures to stand up for AIDS victims early in the epidemic. Though most people were afraid of touching people with HIV and AIDS patients, Diana knew better. In a famous incident, the Princess not only shook hands with an ill man, but also hugged him. In a heartbreaking speech, she revealed the reason why she stood up for AIDS patients in particular.
Diana said that, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.” It was a groundbreaking moment for a community stricken by AIDS.
At this point in the story, as Diana found her voice, you’d expect that things would finally turn around for her—but at that very moment, a storm of drama blew threw her life like nothing she’d seen before. Over the course of a few months in 1992, Diana had the horrid details of her personal life exposed in the tabloids…and the timing couldn’t have been worse.
In March of 1992, Princess Diana lost her father, John Spencer. Upon John’s death, Charles became the 9th Earl Spencer and received the family home at Althorp. Just two days after the loss of his father, Charles tossed his stepmother Raine out of their house—but he wasn’t working alone.
While Charles kicked out Raine and fired her staff, his security made sure that she didn’t take anything from the house. After all, it was all supposed to belong to the Spencer name. Then, Diana added insult to injury. The Princess kept watch as Raine’s maid packed her clothing—and when she noticed a monogrammed “S” on the luggage, she claimed the set as a Spencer item, and told the maid to put everything in garbage bags.
Charles then kicked the bags down the stairs toward Raine. Jeez, guys. Tell me how you REALLY feel.
Keep in mind that before 1992, all of her story—the cheating, the bulimia, the depression, the suicide attempts—had been kept under tight wraps (though the press did know that the marriage was rife with problems). That year, Diana finally decided to expose the truth about her life as the Princess of Wales. In June, the Sunday Times began publishing passages from the book Diana, Her True Story—with headlines like “Diana driven to five suicide bids by ‘uncaring’ Charles.”
Finally, her story was out in the open—and people went wild over it.
Diana had never expected to get out of her marriage to Charles, and she’d vowed to herself and her in-laws to never end it—but the separation of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson the year before had shown her that there was, indeed, a way out. The publication of the first parts of the book forced the palace’s hand, and Diana and Charles sat down and made a grave decision.
After just over a decade of marriage, Princess Diana and Prince Charles officially separated.
Diana had wanted to tell her story in her own words. However, shortly after passages from Diana, Her True Story came out, someone else exposed what happened behind closed doors without Diana’s permission. A tape recording of a conversation that Diana had purportedly had with childhood friend James Gilbey in 1989 came out, which implied that the pair were having an affair.
In the tape, she expressed fear that she was pregnant, and he called her “darling” and “squidgy”—hence, reporters naming the incident “Squidgygate.” But in terms of secret tapes, the worst was yet to come.
Princess Diana weathered the storm of “Squidgygate”—but reporters had yet another disturbing secret tape in store. This time, it was a recording of a conversation between Charles and Camilla from 1989. The conversation was 8 minutes long, quite explicit, and included an infamous exchange where Charles tells Camilla he wishes he could live in her trousers (maybe as a tampon). Yikes…
The firestorm of controversy was stiflingly intense and behind the scenes, both Diana’s and Charles’ staffers waged a secret PR war, hoping to gain public sympathy—but they weren’t the only ones involved. Prince Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his hope for reconciliation. Diana had also done her fair share of writing, having penned letters to the Queen Mother.
No one knows exactly what was in them, but they were so shocking that Princess Margaret, Charles’ aunt, decided to burn them in 1993. Well, there was even more shock to come…
The press was unrelenting when it came to Diana, and came up with name after name that they linked her to in the press. Diana fought back in the form of a tell-all interview with Martin Bashir, where she provided the infamous quote "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” while talking about her husband’s affairs.
After everything they’d gone through, it was the final straw.
In December of 1995, the Queen wrote a letter to both Diana and Charles, asking that they divorce. They both agreed—but that didn’t mean that the mud-slinging was over. Instead of an argument over custody or money, it became a battle over Diana’s title of Her Royal Highness. Months before, Prince Philip had purportedly threatened to take it away from her. Her comeback was unforgettable. She told him: “My title is a lot older than yours, Philip.”
While the Queen was fine with her keeping it, Charles insisted that they take it away from her. However, she had an unexpected ally on her side.
Diana had showered her sons with love and affection through their entire childhood—and it showed. They were utterly devoted to her, and when she lost her title, Prince William promised that he’d restore it when he became king. Let’s see if he keeps that promise…
The battle over titles was nothing compared to the rumor that Diana allegedly started during the divorce. Many believe that she spread a story that Charles was involved with his personal assistant, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, and that she’d aborted a secret love child. She reportedly even went up to Tiggy at a party and said something along the lines of “Sorry about the baby.”
It was an ugly period—but the divorce didn’t actually make it any better.
When the courts finalized Diana’s divorce from Charles, she expected to return to her family home of Althorp—yes, the one she and her brother Charles had wrested from their “evil” stepmother. However, she was in for a devastating surprise. Her brother refused to let her live here, leaving Diana heartbroken.
Instead, she lived the rest of her life in a set of apartments in Kensington Palace.
Diana always had a cadre of psychics and astrologers as part of her entourage—and although there were some predictions that she took with a grain of salt, there were others that she obviously believed. Before her divorce, she confessed that a friend told her that she’d “marry somebody who’s foreign, [or who has] foreign blood.”
While Diana didn’t remarry, the friend was right, in a way.
After her divorce, Diana dated British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan—and this wasn’t just a simple rebound. She was real-deal madly in love with him…but her circumstances presented a host of problems for the budding romance. Khan was a very private man, and Diana had to straight-up lie to keep their relationship secret. At first, it worked—but then, it became to much to bear.
They even contemplated marriage, but Khan knew that the media attention would completely take over and ruin their lives. But there may have been more to the story than just that. Diana’s butler reported that her mother disapproved of her being in a relationship with a Muslim man, and that it caused a rift between mother and daughter that was never healed.
There are different accounts as to who broke up with who, but ultimately, the pair split up in the summer of 1997 after nearly two years of dating. Later, friends shared that they considered Khan the love of Diana’s life—but even if that is true, she did rebound from him quite quickly.
Diana took her sons for a summer vacation in 1997 to the South of France, where they were guests of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. While on the trip, she met his son Dodi, and they later began seeing each other after the trip ended. They went on a couple of cruises together, where paparazzi caught them in an embrace.
The steamy photos not only started a sensation—they also set off the dire sequences of events that concluded with Diana’s dark end.
When the press realized that Diana had a boyfriend, they went into overdrive following them around France. To avoid them, Diana and Dodi changed their dinner reservations and even sent out a decoy car to give them some cover—but all their planning couldn’t prevent the tragedy that loomed ahead. After the decoy car left the Paris Ritz, the hotel’s head of security, Henri Paul, got behind the wheel of a Mercedes meant to secret shuttle them to Dodi’s apartment.
They never made it there.
Just after midnight on the morning of August 31, 1997, the car carrying Diana, Dodi, Henri Paul, and Trevor Rees-Jones, a member of the Fayed family’s security team approached the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. As it entered the tunnel, a number of motorcycles carrying photographers swarmed the car—which never made out the other side.
The car crashed in the tunnel, bouncing between walls and pillars before coming to a stop. It looked horrible—but the reality was even worse.
While some of the photographers who’d been chasing them rushed to help, others just took pictures. As the authorities arrived, they split their time between investigating the crash and immediately arresting the offending photographers and confiscating their rolls of film. Others attended to the car’s passengers—two of whom were still conscious, but in rough shape.
Both Rees-Jones and Diana were conscious when ambulances arrived 15 minutes after the crash. She was speaking, occasionally saying “Oh my god.” A doctor on the scene thought she was in shock—but the truth was so much more devastating. Soon after EMTs took her out of the car, she went into cardiac arrest. They did their best to revive her, and they did, but when she got the hospital, the damage was much worse than they’d thought.
About three hours after her initial rescue, she was pronounced dead. The aftermath was heartbreaking.
When Diana died, it felt like the whole world was grieving. As Prince Charles and her sisters rushed to France to retrieve Diana’s body, mourners left more than a million bouquets outside the gates of Kensington Palace. Over the days, the pile grew to be five feet tall in places. The public mourning at the funeral was equally prolific—and as the details of what happened emerged, the tragedy deepened.
After he initially received the news from France, Princes Charles had to wake William and Harry up before dawn to break the news to them about their mother. While the royal family expressed their grief, they were criticized for remaining tight-lipped about the tragedy—a reaction they later explained was part of an effort to protect William and Harry’s privacy.
Amidst the royal family’s polarizing response to Diana’s death in 1997, it was William’s grandfather, Prince Philip, who convinced William and Harry to walk behind her coffin with a few heartbreaking sentences. When the young princes were apprehensive, Philip reportedly told his eldest grandson, “If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?”
At the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles, and Diana’s brother followed the bier all the way from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace, as millions watched. Still, people wanted answers for what had happened…
Following Diana’s death, a number of investigations began looking into the causes of the crash. What they found was fairly predictable—speed the presence of paparazzi were factors—but there was one surprise. The driver of the car, Henri Paul, had both alcohol and prescription medication in his system.
While most investigations have blamed this for the crash, others haven’t been so quick to believe…
For nearly a decade, Mohamed Al-Fayed (the father of Diana’s romantic partner Dodi Fayed, who also perished in the crash) maintained that his son's death was the result of a murder plot by MI6. He even pressed for further investigation, including a demand for the release of the NSA’s file on Diana. While Al-Fayed eventually gave up on his quest, it’s not because he didn’t stop believing—he just decided to let it go for William and Harry’s sake.
Of course, his isn’t the only conspiracy about Diana’s dark end—and Diana even had a few of her own during her life.
Princess Diana always had suspicions that “the Firm” was out to get her—and for good reason. So, occasionally, she had her own staff investigate incidents…and one of their more surprising findings was about the leak of the tape that came to be known as “Squidgygate.” After her death, one of Diana’s staff stated that he’d come to the conclusion that the “Establishment,” as he called them, had leaked the tape to embarrass her…but that was far from the most disturbing allegation about them.
There had long been one constant in the marriage between Diana and Charles—and her name was Camilla. However, in 1993, Diana began to suspect he was hiding an even darker secret. As mentioned earlier, she believed that he was also having an affair with his personal assistant (and their children’s former nanny) Tiggy Legge-Bourke, and that he wanted to marry her—but that’s not all.
Diana also believed that Charles wanted the firm to have her killed, so that he could “make the path clear for him” to be with Tiggy.
Diana lived in fear of the Firm, expressing her suspicions that they were going to take her out multiple times—and it all stemmed back to one incident, years before. In the early 90s, Diana confessed that between 1984 and 1986 (before her affair with James Hewitt), she was deeply in love with someone. Immediately, people began to speculate you—and as they put the puzzle pieces together, it all became clear.
In 1986, Diana’s security team made the decision to transfer her bodyguard Barry Mannakee to another detail—and the reason why was scandalous. His managers had determined that his relationship with the princess was “inappropriate,” leading to speculation years down the line that he had been the man Diana loved between 84 and 86.
While Diana never named the man she’d said she’d been in love with, she’d gone as far as to say that she’d been ready to “give all this up [and] just to go off and live with him." While her friends denied that she’d had an affair with Mannakee, the things she’d said about him over the years led people to suspect otherwise—but their story had an unbelievably tragic ending.
About a year after he stopped being part of Diana’s security team, Barry Mannakee died in a car crash. Immediately, Diana had her suspicions—and they fell directly on her in-laws, or more specifically, the Firm. While an investigation found that it had been an accident, Diana continued to believe for years afterward that the Firm had been involved in her alleged former lover’s death.
He wasn’t the only former lover that people later speculated about, either…
Princess Diana’s earliest confirmed affair was with James Hewitt—but few know just how tragic their story was. They were actually together for five years before Diana ended their relationship in 1991. Hewitt’s reaction was devastating, and he later confessed that he contemplated taking his own life when it ended—but his story didn’t end there.
In 2003, Hewitt began to try and sell a bunch of letters that Diana had written him during their romance for £10 million—but by doing do, he had crossed the wrong person. Diana’s old friend (and occasional frenemy) Sarah Ferguson came forward to chastise Hewitt, calling it a horrible betrayal. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it reignited rumors that Hewitt was Prince Harry’s real father—despite the fact that his affair with Diana began years after Harry’s birth.
Prince Harry, of course, has faced his own problems since his mother’s death.
In January 2020, Diana's youngest son Prince Harry abruptly announced that he and his wife, Canadian actress Meghan Markle, were taking a step back from the royal family. The decision made headlines all over the world, but after the initial shock wore off, Harry's reasons became clear. The press began to wonder if Harry was retreating from public life to make sure that his child wouldn't experience the kind of tragic loss he went through.
Finally, after months of speculation, they set the record straight.
Like Diana, Harry's wife Meghan has suffered under the royal family and the press. She even revealed that when she approached the Firm with the problems she was having and told them that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore,” they refused to help her. My, how history repeats itself. During the same interview, Harry didn’t hold back about the problems he had with his own father, complaining about how cold Charles had been after Diana’s passing, and how they were now barely on speaking terms.
Charles? Cold? Surprising. Well, it all started so much earlier…
A month before his wedding to Diana, Charles left for a trip. At the airport that day, photographers caught Diana crying at the airport as he bade her farewell—but there’s an even more heartbreaking side to the iconic photograph. That was the day that Diana gave up trying to come between Charles and Camilla. When she heard them on the phone together that day, she knew she could pick up the extension, but instead, just left them to their call.
As Diana later said, “It just broke my heart”—and it was, sadly, a wound that never healed.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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