Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. Charles had known Diana for several years before considering her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980; their engagement was announced in February 1981 and they married in July that year. But by the early 1990s the marriage of Diana and Charles was falling apart; a process at first suppressed, then sensationalised by the world media – with not a little help from the participants. The couple were legally separated in December 1992, and their divorce was finalised in August 1996. After the separation Diana claimed that Charles resumed his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles – now married to Charles and known as the Duchess of Cornwall – as early as 1984 (Charles himself later admitted to resuming it around 1986) and she also admitted to having had an affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt, in the late 1980s.
From the mid-1980s Diana became increasingly known for her support of numerous charities includes those outside the purview of traditional royal involvement, including AIDS and leprosy, and most famously, in the last year of her life, she was the most visible supporter of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. On 31 August 1997 Diana died having sustained fatal injuries in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris; it was not until 2008 that aninquest ruled that Diana she been unlawfully killed by the negligent driving of the driver of the Mercedes in which she was travelling and the drivers of the following vehicles.
A public figure from the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana remained the focus of near-constant media scrutiny in the United Kingdom and around the world before, during and after her marriage – and indeed after her death.
Beautiful, disturbed, unhappily married, betrayed, royalty, iconic status, mistress of the doleful eyes, died young and tragically: what better subject for having her life dissected in tacky biopics – and her death pored over by conspiracy theorists. Mad, sad, bad, or a candidate for sainthood: perhaps her greatest – albeit probably unwitting – achievement was that this vulnerable and damaged woman looked reasonably human compared with the rest of the British royal family.