Diana, Princess of Wales

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Diana, Princess of Wales (born Diana Frances Spencer, July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, and is the mother of Princes William and Harry. She was killed in a motor accident in Paris on 31 August 1997.

She was born in Sandringham, Norfolk as the third daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer) and his first wife, Frances (later Mrs. Frances Shand-Kydd). She had older two sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a younger brother, Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer. After private schooling, she worked as a nursery school teaching assistant.

She married Prince Charles on 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and gave birth to Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. However, the marriage was troubled and the couple separated in 1992; they were divorced in 1996.

Death

Hôtel Ritz Paris

In 1997 Diana was holidaying with Dodi Fayed, son of the controversial businessman Mohammed al Fayed. On 31 August the couple dined at the Ritz Hotel (owned by al Fayed) before leaving by car for Dodi Fayed's Paris appartment. While travelling at speed (eluding the paparazzi) through the Pont d'Alma underpass, their car crashed. Dodi Fayed (42) and the driver, Henri Paul (41), were killed instantly; Diana (36) died some hours later in hospital; a bodyguard survived. It was later found that Paul was over the blood alcohol limit for driving. Despite this, conspiracy theories have flourished about the incident, the most flamboyant being that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered the British security service MI5 to have Diana and Dodi murdered, to prevent her giving birth to a Moslem child (though she was not pregnant at the time of her death). Such theories are fostered by Mohammed al Fayed and by the British daily newspaper the Daily Express.

"Lady Di", as she was often popularly known, was buried on 6 September 1997. Her grave is on an island in a lake in the grounds of her family home (Althorp House, Northamptonshire).

In April 2008 an inquest jury in London disregarded all conspiracy theories and found that Diana and Dodi Fayed had been unlawfully killed by Henri Paul and the pursuing photographers.

Legacy

Nelson Shanks, Portrait of HRH Diana, Princess of Wales 1996.
...compassionate action is the only valid test of true spirituality; and people in post-Christian Europe are keenly aware of this insight. Many have left the conventional church because they are repelled by the uncharitable behavior of the devout; crusades, inquisitions and persecutions, past and present, have discredited faith....The deification of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the extraordinary days after her death was a religious event, due, at least in part, to the fact that Diana had become an icon of compassion in a depersonalized world. - Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God

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