Strategy An inside look at how Princess Diana went from a kindergarten teacher to an international icon

  • Published:

Join us as we take a look back on the remarkable life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Take a look at her remarkable life. play

Take a look at her remarkable life.

(Herman Knippertz/AP)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's tragic death.

She was first propelled into the national spotlight at the age of 20, when she wedded England's Prince Charles at the age of 20.

Their troubled marriage ultimately imploded, turning the couple in tabloid fodder.

Sign up for Business Insider's newsletter: What you need to know every day delivered right to your inbox.

However, Diana went on to become an international icon in her own right. Her sophisticated style dictated fashion trends. Her dedication to charitable causes won her admiration and accolades.

And, in the wake of her death in Paris, then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair famously referred to her as "the people's princess." The mass, global outpouring of grief that her death sparked proved it an apt observation.

Here's a look at the life of Diana, Princess of Wales:

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 to a British noble family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, reminisced that she was 'incredibly brave,' even as a young girl.

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 to a British noble family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, reminisced that she was 'incredibly brave,' even as a young girl. play

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 to a British noble family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, reminisced that she was 'incredibly brave,' even as a young girl.

(AP)

Source: Royal.uk, USA Today



In school, the future princess failed all her O-levels — twice. However, Diana had a sense that she was destined for something important. "I knew that something profound was coming my way," she said in the documentary "Diana: In Her Own Words." "I was just treading water, waiting for it."

In school, the future princess failed all her O-levels — twice. However, Diana had a sense that she was destined for something important. "I knew that something profound was coming my way," she said in the documentary "Diana: In Her Own Words." "I was just treading water, waiting for it." play

In school, the future princess failed all her O-levels — twice. However, Diana had a sense that she was destined for something important. "I knew that something profound was coming my way," she said in the documentary "Diana: In Her Own Words." "I was just treading water, waiting for it."

(Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images)

Source: The Independent, Diana: In Her Own Words



Before her marriage, Diana reportedly shared a flat with three roommates and worked as a part-time kindergarten teacher in London’s Pimlico district.

Before her marriage, Diana reportedly shared a flat with three roommates and worked as a part-time kindergarten teacher in London’s Pimlico district. play

Before her marriage, Diana reportedly shared a flat with three roommates and worked as a part-time kindergarten teacher in London’s Pimlico district.

(AP Photo)

Source: People



She first met Prince Charles in 1977 when she was 16. The prince was dating her older sister at the time. Their romance didn't begin until three years later when Diana watched Charles play polo at Balmoral Castle.

She first met Prince Charles in 1977 when she was 16. The prince was dating her older sister at the time. Their romance didn't begin until three years later when Diana watched Charles play polo at Balmoral Castle. play

She first met Prince Charles in 1977 when she was 16. The prince was dating her older sister at the time. Their romance didn't begin until three years later when Diana watched Charles play polo at Balmoral Castle.

(Ron Bell/AP)

Source: PopSugar, British Royals



Reports indicate that the 32-year-old Charles was under pressure to marry at the time. The prince proposed to Diana in February 1981, after only a few dates. She accepted straight away. In total, Charles and Diana only met 13 times before they were married.

Reports indicate that the 32-year-old Charles was under pressure to marry at the time. The prince proposed to Diana in February 1981, after only a few dates. She accepted straight away. In total, Charles and Diana only met 13 times before they were married. play

Reports indicate that the 32-year-old Charles was under pressure to marry at the time. The prince proposed to Diana in February 1981, after only a few dates. She accepted straight away. In total, Charles and Diana only met 13 times before they were married.

(Associated Press)

Source: British Royals, PopSugar



Their lavish, fairytale wedding ceremony received plenty of attention from the press and the public — 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch. CBS reported that the total cost of the wedding was close to $70 million in today's dollars.

Their lavish, fairytale wedding ceremony received plenty of attention from the press and the public — 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch. CBS reported that the total cost of the wedding was close to $70 million in today's dollars. play

Their lavish, fairytale wedding ceremony received plenty of attention from the press and the public — 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch. CBS reported that the total cost of the wedding was close to $70 million in today's dollars.

(AP)

Source: CBS, People, PopSugar



However, Diana would later describe her wedding day as "the worst day of my life," according to Brides.com.

However, Diana would later describe her wedding day as "the worst day of my life," according to Brides.com. play

However, Diana would later describe her wedding day as "the worst day of my life," according to Brides.com.

(AP)

Source: Brides.com, CBS



The subsequent honeymoon on Royal Yacht Britannia provided Diana with a chance to "catch up on sleep," according to Vanity Fair. Upon returning to England, the newlyweds moved into London's Kensington Palace and Tetbury's Highgrove House.

The subsequent honeymoon on Royal Yacht Britannia provided Diana with a chance to "catch up on sleep," according to Vanity Fair. Upon returning to England, the newlyweds moved into London's Kensington Palace and Tetbury's Highgrove House. play

The subsequent honeymoon on Royal Yacht Britannia provided Diana with a chance to "catch up on sleep," according to Vanity Fair. Upon returning to England, the newlyweds moved into London's Kensington Palace and Tetbury's Highgrove House.

(Dave Caulkin/AP)

Source: Vanity Fair



The following summer, Diana gave birth to the couple's first son, William Arthur Philip Louis.

The following summer, Diana gave birth to the couple's first son, William Arthur Philip Louis. play

The following summer, Diana gave birth to the couple's first son, William Arthur Philip Louis.

(David Caulkin/AP)

Source: The Guardian



A second son — Henry Charles Albert David, or "Harry" — followed on September 5, 1984.

A second son — Henry Charles Albert David, or "Harry" — followed on September 5, 1984. play

A second son — Henry Charles Albert David, or "Harry" — followed on September 5, 1984.

(Associated Press)

Source: Toronto Sun



Prince William and Prince Harry have described their mother's parenting style as informal, loving, and mischievous. "She understood that there was a real life outside of Palace walls," William said.

Prince William and Prince Harry have described their mother's parenting style as informal, loving, and mischievous. "She understood that there was a real life outside of Palace walls," William said. play

Prince William and Prince Harry have described their mother's parenting style as informal, loving, and mischievous. "She understood that there was a real life outside of Palace walls," William said.

(Associated Press)

Source: Express



Diana grew used to accompanying Charles on official visits around the world, although she reportedly expressed hope privately that "we won't have to do any more traveling this year" in 1983. However, she quickly became a popular international figure. On her 1985 trip to the US, she turned heads by dancing with John Travolta in the White House.

Diana grew used to accompanying Charles on official visits around the world, although she reportedly expressed hope privately that "we won't have to do any more traveling this year" in 1983. However, she quickly became a popular international figure. On her 1985 trip to the US, she turned heads by dancing with John Travolta in the White House. play

Diana grew used to accompanying Charles on official visits around the world, although she reportedly expressed hope privately that "we won't have to do any more traveling this year" in 1983. However, she quickly became a popular international figure. On her 1985 trip to the US, she turned heads by dancing with John Travolta in the White House.

(AP)

Source: Youtube, Vanity Fair



But all was not well in the royal marriage, which had been on the rocks from the start. The prince and princess both reportedly engaged in extra-marital affairs.

But all was not well in the royal marriage, which had been on the rocks from the start. The prince and princess both reportedly engaged in extra-marital affairs. play

But all was not well in the royal marriage, which had been on the rocks from the start. The prince and princess both reportedly engaged in extra-marital affairs.

(PA/AP)

Source: Daily Mail



Charles is said to have continued seeing his current wife Camille Parker-Bowles, who he had been in a relationship with before his marriage to Diana. Diana would later quip, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Charles is said to have continued seeing his current wife Camille Parker-Bowles, who he had been in a relationship with before his marriage to Diana. Diana would later quip, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." play

Charles is said to have continued seeing his current wife Camille Parker-Bowles, who he had been in a relationship with before his marriage to Diana. Diana would later quip, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

(Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Source: Daily Mail, The Telegraph



The couple formally separated in 1992. Diana ultimately went public about the breakdown of their relationship, speaking candidly about her husband's alleged infidelity and her own struggles with bulimia, depression, and self-harm. Their divorce was finalized in 1996.

The couple formally separated in 1992. Diana ultimately went public about the breakdown of their relationship, speaking candidly about her husband's alleged infidelity and her own struggles with bulimia, depression, and self-harm. Their divorce was finalized in 1996. play

The couple formally separated in 1992. Diana ultimately went public about the breakdown of their relationship, speaking candidly about her husband's alleged infidelity and her own struggles with bulimia, depression, and self-harm. Their divorce was finalized in 1996.

(Max Nash/AP Images)

Source: Business Insider



In the wake of her much-scrutinized separation from Charles, Diana hid from the spotlight. However, by 1994, she chose to resume her public life.

In the wake of her much-scrutinized separation from Charles, Diana hid from the spotlight. However, by 1994, she chose to resume her public life. play

In the wake of her much-scrutinized separation from Charles, Diana hid from the spotlight. However, by 1994, she chose to resume her public life.

(PA/AP)

Source: The Los Angeles Times, People



During and after her marriage, Diana was one of the most photographed women in the world. She also traveled the globe, meeting with many luminaries...

During and after her marriage, Diana was one of the most photographed women in the world. She also traveled the globe, meeting with many luminaries... play

During and after her marriage, Diana was one of the most photographed women in the world. She also traveled the globe, meeting with many luminaries...

(AP)

Source: Telegraph



... like Mother Teresa...

... like Mother Teresa... play

... like Mother Teresa...

(Bebeto Matthew/AP)


... Nelson Mandela ...

... Nelson Mandela ... play

... Nelson Mandela ...

(Sasa Kralj/AP)


... Pope John Paul II ...

... Pope John Paul II ... play

... Pope John Paul II ...

(Ron Bell/AP)


... and Elton John, who became a personal friend.

... and Elton John, who became a personal friend. play

... and Elton John, who became a personal friend.

(Luca Bruno/AP)

Source: Telegraph



During her marriage to Charles, Diana attempted to support a huge number of charities. Upon becoming single, she resigned from about 100, in order to better focus on a few projects.

During her marriage to Charles, Diana attempted to support a huge number of charities. Upon becoming single, she resigned from about 100, in order to better focus on a few projects. play

During her marriage to Charles, Diana attempted to support a huge number of charities. Upon becoming single, she resigned from about 100, in order to better focus on a few projects.

(Eduardo Di Baia/AP)

Source: Independent



She famously became a major advocate for AIDS patients. She was photographed shaking patients' hands without gloves. The Princess of Wales is credited with helping to change mainstream stigmas about interacting with AIDS and HIV patients.

She famously became a major advocate for AIDS patients. She was photographed shaking patients' hands without gloves. The Princess of Wales is credited with helping to change mainstream stigmas about interacting with AIDS and HIV patients. play

She famously became a major advocate for AIDS patients. She was photographed shaking patients' hands without gloves. The Princess of Wales is credited with helping to change mainstream stigmas about interacting with AIDS and HIV patients.

(John Redman/AP)

Source: Rare Historical Photos, BBC



Diana also advocated for the removal of dangerous land mines. In 1997, she even walked through an active minefield in Angola and hosted a television special on the topic.

Diana also advocated for the removal of dangerous land mines. In 1997, she even walked through an active minefield in Angola and hosted a television special on the topic. play

Diana also advocated for the removal of dangerous land mines. In 1997, she even walked through an active minefield in Angola and hosted a television special on the topic.

(Giovanni Diffidenti/AP)

Source: Newsweek, PRI



Diana also sat on the board of the Royal Marsden Hospital, which specializes in cancer treatment.

Diana also sat on the board of the Royal Marsden Hospital, which specializes in cancer treatment. play

Diana also sat on the board of the Royal Marsden Hospital, which specializes in cancer treatment.

(Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Source: Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund



In her personal life, Diana found love again with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan in 1995. However, the couple broke up in 1997. That year, Diana began dating Dodi Fayed, the son of an Egyptian billionaire.

In her personal life, Diana found love again with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan in 1995. However, the couple broke up in 1997. That year, Diana began dating Dodi Fayed, the son of an Egyptian billionaire. play

In her personal life, Diana found love again with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan in 1995. However, the couple broke up in 1997. That year, Diana began dating Dodi Fayed, the son of an Egyptian billionaire.

(Patrick Bar/AP)

Source: Vanity Fair



While fleeing the ever-present paparazzi, Diana, along with Fayed and driver Henri Paul, was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

While fleeing the ever-present paparazzi, Diana, along with Fayed and driver Henri Paul, was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. play

While fleeing the ever-present paparazzi, Diana, along with Fayed and driver Henri Paul, was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

(Alastair Grant/AP)

Source: The New York Times



Her sudden death swept England up in a massive display of collective grief and mourning.

Her sudden death swept England up in a massive display of collective grief and mourning. play

Her sudden death swept England up in a massive display of collective grief and mourning.

(Rick Bowmer/AP)

Source: The Guardian



Today, Diana is still remembered for her drive to help others. She once recommended that people should "carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."

Today, Diana is still remembered for her drive to help others. She once recommended that people should "carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." play

Today, Diana is still remembered for her drive to help others. She once recommended that people should "carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."

(Rick Rycroft/AP)

Source: The Huffington Post