Twenty-five years after the tragic death of Princess Diana, people are still reading about her, talking about her, watching shows about her and even dressing like her. The beloved Princess of Wales has been upheld as an icon for years.
But what exactly made her legacy one that people won’t soon forget?
Princess Diana has been attributed with taking the royal family from public figures the masses couldn’t relate with to a family that people felt they could invite over for dinner.
How Diana became a princess
Diana Spencer and Prince Charles met for the first time in November 1977, according to Vogue. At the time, Prince Charles was starting to date Diana’s sister Sarah Spencer, and while spending time at the Spencer house, he started to take notice of Diana, according to Marie Claire.
Charles was 29 and Diana was 16 when they met and he was the most eligible bachelor in the world at the time. Diana and Charles began to hit it off as they got to know each other over time. Diana was described as a down-to-earth person and had a very unconventional personality compared to the other women Charles was dating.
“I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was. I mean, great fun, and bouncy and full of life and everything,” Charles said in a 1981 interview with The Telegraph. All of these characteristics are not only why Prince Charles fell for her, but would go on to be the reasons why the world would end up falling in love with her as well.
CBS News reported that after graduating high school, Diana got work as a nanny, which was a good fit for her whimsical and fun personality.
Prince Charles and Diana would continue to bump into each other over the next three years, because Sarah Spencer was still spending time with Charles. In July 1980, the royal family put pressure on Prince Charles to get married and settle down. Around the time that Sarah stopped dating Charles, Diana and the Prince were both invited to stay at a mutual friend’s house and they began to spark up a romance, according to Vogue.
Express reported that in September 1980, Diana was photographed with Prince Charles for the first time and this began the media’s obsession with Princess Diana.
On Feb. 24, 1981, the royal family announced that Prince Charles was set to marry Lady Diana Spencer. After six months of publicly dating, Charles popped the question and they were married on Wednesday, July 9, 1981, at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Diana’s impact as a princess
In her new role as princess, Diana brought technicolor to the very black and white perception the royal family had maintained for years. The royal family had often been viewed on a pedestal, making it more difficult for the public to relate to them, but Diana came in and changed that.
Diana did not always behave as the obedient, naive princess that she signed up to be and the media caught glimpses of it. She prioritized being a mom over being a princess after she started having kids, and the public responded well to it.
“Most importantly, being a mother and a wife. That’s what I try to achieve; whether I do is another thing, but I do try,” Princess Diana said in a 1985 interview.
Insider reported that it was customary for members of the royal family to leave their children while they went on long trips, but Diana refused to leave her son William behind.
As Diana and Charles made public appearances, the crowds started paying more attention to Diana than Charles, according to Time. Diana became a star, and crowds of people would form anywhere she went. The demand for the princess got to the point where the press had Diana and Charles switch seats in the car so that Diana was more visible than Charles.
The BBC reported that during her time as princess, Diana brought the spotlight to charities in need and philanthropy projects that the public really responded to. She met with AIDS and HIV patients and hugged them on national television, which rocked the world. Diana helped destigmatize these diseases and helped spark more truthful conversations around the illnesses.
Her death sent a shock through the globe and people today still remember her style, her charity work, her kindness and her impact on the world.
According to Time, Queen Elizabeth’s first speech to the press after Diana’s death addressed her good character that lives on today. “In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness.”