Princess Diana should have led a storybook life: At age 20, she married Prince Charles and went on to have two handsome sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, whom she loved dearly. But then her marriage unraveled, and Princess Diana’s suffering eventually became public knowledge. It was only after she finally broke free of her unhappy marriage that she had a chance at happiness. Then, sadly, her life was tragically cut short just one year after her divorce, when she was killed in a car crash on the last day of August 1997. She was only 36. Find out how Princess Diana really spent the last weeks of her life.
All that was left of the princess were her final wishes, as set forth in her last will and testament. Sadly, even those never came to fruition.
Princess Diana with her sons
Princess Diana with her sons
VENICE, ITALY - MAY 5: (FILE PHOTO) (L-R) Diana the Princess of Wales holds her son Harry, whilst looking at Prince William held by his father Prince Charles on May 5, 1985 in Venice, Italy. Prince William will celebrate his 21st birthday on June 21, 2003. (Photo by Georges de Keerle/Getty Images)
Princes William and Harry with their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) in the garden of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, 18th July 1986. William is wearing a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt.(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana At Highgrove With Prince William And Prince Harry Dressed In Miniature Parachute Regiment Uniforms And Playing On Their Slide In The Garden (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana With Her Sons Prince William And Prince Harry Playing With A Playhouse In The Garden Of Their Home Highgrove (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their children, Princes William and Harry, at the Spanish royal residence Marivent Palace, August 1987. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales arriving at Aberdeen airport with her sons William and Harry for a holiday at Balmoral Castle, August 1986. Princess Diana is wearing a polo motive sweater by Mondi. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 01: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales at home in Kensington Palace with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: Princess Diana And Prince William Leaving After Delivering Prince Harry To Mrs. Mynor's Nursery School. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Diana, Princess Of Wales, Holding A Young Prince Harry In Her Arms As She Watches Trooping The Colour With Prince William And Princess Margaret From The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
BALMORAL, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Harry play on the banks of the River Dee, near Balmoral Castle.during a Summer vacation, on August 18, 1987, in Balmoral, Scotland. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
NECKER ISLAND, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - JANUARY 9: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry ( centre ), and her Niece's and Nephew's on holiday on Necker Island , on January 9, 1989 in Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
BATH - MAY 30: (FILE PHOTO) Prince William, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry and Charles, Prince of Wales, attend the wedding of the Duke of Hussey's daughter in May, 1989 in Bath, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 12: (FILE PHOTO) Princess Diana with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry at Wetherby School on September 12, 1989 in London, England. It is Prince Harry's first day at school. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Diana, The Princess Of Wales Takes Her Sons, Prince'S William, And Harry Out On The Boat ' Maid Of The Mist ' To View Niagara Falls. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
CHERTSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry, on the Depth Charge ride at Thorpe Park, Theme Park, on April 18, 1992 in Chertsey United Kingdom . (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - APRIL 10: Princess Diana With Princes William & Harry Skiing In Lech, Austria (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Diana Princess Of Wales, Prince William & Prince Harry Visit The 'Thorpe Park' Amusement Park. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
AUSTRIA - MARCH 30: Lech: Princess Diana, sons William and Harry going to restaurant in calash In Lech, Austria On March 30, 1993. (Photo by Laurent SOLA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - MARCH 27: Princess Diana With Prince William & Prince Harry In Sleigh During Ski Holiday In Lech, Austria. Behind Are Diana's Friends Kate Menzies And Catherine Soames (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: Princess Diana, Prince Harry [ Waving ] And Prince William Watching The Parade Of Veterans On V J Day, The Mall, London. Designer Of Diana's Suit - Tomasz Starzewski (please Check - People Magazine, 04/12/1999) (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess holding Prince William whilst pregnant with Prince Harry, and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess and Prince Harry on holiday and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
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Princess Diana’s will
Princess Diana’s will, which she’d signed four years earlier and then modified several months after her divorce, according to Cheat Sheet, provided that
75 percent of her jewelry and possessions should be divided between Prince William and Prince Harry, with the remaining 25 percent divided among Diana’s 17 godchildren.
£50,000 should go to her butler.
The remainder of her estate (£21 million, which would be the equivalent of $31.5 million now) should be placed in trust for the princes until each turned 25.
The will named Princess Diana’s mother and sister as the executors, meaning that the two were tasked with distributing Diana’s estate… in accordance with her wishes. And therein lies the rub.
A Princess’s wishes… overridden
In December of 1997, Diana’s mother and sister went to court and obtained a “variation order,” permitting them to distribute the princess’s estate differently from how she’d specified: Under the variation order:
The two princes would not receive their shares of Diana’s estate until the age of 30 (although they would begin receiving income distributions at age 25).
Instead of splitting 25 percent of Princess Diana’s jewels and possessions, each of the godchildren would receive a single memento, chosen by the executors. And none of that would happen until the younger prince, Harry, turned 30 in 2014.
Fast forward to 2014
In 2014, Prince Harry received his share of his mum’s estate (two years earlier, Prince William had received his). During the intervening 17 years following the variation order, 150 items from Princess Diana’s possessions were traveling the world as part of an exhibition put together by Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer. Proceeds from the exhibition (admissions and such) raised more than $2 million.
Diana’s family say the proceeds went to a charitable fund created in Diana’s memory. Since Princess Diana was highly charitable during her lifetime, one could argue that her wishes weren’t entirely trounced.
What remains a mystery is why Diana’s family ignored her wishes. What would Diana have said? How do Prince Willam and Harry feel about the way their mum’s wishes were disregarded? All we know right now is that Prince William found ways to honor Princess Diana at his wedding to Kate Middleton, as did Prince Harry. And here’s a window into how Prince Harry coped with the loss of his mum.
Learn more about the People's Princess below
9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew about until after her death
9 secrets about Princess Diana no one knew about until after her death
She recorded her thoughts on tape
Much of what we know about Princess Diana’s personal life is thanks to audiotapes she recorded herself. Once she recognized her marriage to Prince Charles was falling apart, she documented her side of the story on a tape recorder and gave the tapes to her close friend, Dr. James Colthurst. He, in turn, gave them to journalist Andrew Morton so her words could get out to the public. From those tapes, Morton published the biography DIANA: Her True Story—In Her Own Words in 1992. No one knew Diana had a hand in the book’s production until after her death. Here are some more surprising facts you probably didn't know about Princess Diana.
Her sister dated Prince Charles
There are definitely ways to improve your relationship with your sibling, but we’re not sure if sharing a boyfriend is one of them. Before Diana and Charles started going steady, he dated her sister, Sarah. She introduced the two when Diana was just 16 and takes credit for their falling in love, calling herself Cupid.
Her grandmother worked for the queen
As prominent a public figure as Queen Elizabeth is, there’s still a lot that the public doesn’t know about her. One of those more intriguing bits of trivia is that the Queen Mother was close friends with Princess Diana’s grandmother, Ruth Fermoy. She was one of Her Majesty’s ladies-in-waiting and later held the title Woman of the Bedchamber, which meant that she was the Queen’s right-hand woman and assisted with important social engagements. Here are some more facts (and scandals!) you never knew about Queen Elizabeth II.
She and her husband were related
The royal family tree can get pretty complicated, but don’t worry, there’s nothing incestuous about this marriage. Princess Di and Prince Charles were distantly related. Specifically, they were 16th cousins once removed, through King Henry VII.
She had a poor sex life
In her tape recordings, Princess Diana discussed her married life in great detail, even calling her wedding day “the worst day of her life.” Specifically, she talked at length about her lack of a sex life, saying that she and her husband had sex but it was “very odd.” By the time she made the recordings, their sex life had been going downhill for seven years. She went on to say, “There was no requirement for (sex) from his case. Sort of once every three weeks… and I kept thinking it followed a pattern. He used to see his lady (Camilla) once every three weeks before we got married.” Learn more about the real story of what happened between Charles and Diana.
She messed up her wedding vows
In hindsight, Princess Diana messing up her wedding vows may seem like a sign her marriage was bound to fail, but in reality, she just caught a case of wedding day jitters. During the vows, she called her husband “Philip Charles” instead of “Charles Philip,” mixing up his first and middle names. Here are some more little mistakes that happened on royal wedding days.
She ate in the kitchen
It was against royal family etiquette to eat in the kitchen with staffers and not in a dining room, but Princess Diana was no stranger to breaking protocol. Her personal chef, Darren McGrady, said she would just walk into the kitchen and eat at a countertop while he tidied up, which was unheard of coming from any royal. She would even make coffee for the two of them. Check out these stunning, rarely seen photos of the People's Princess.
She attempted suicide
One of the most troubling revelations from Princess Diana’s audiotapes was that she struggled with depression and even attempted to take her own life. She said in her recordings, “I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades.” She also talked about having bulimia and that the eating disorder started after Prince Charles put his hand on her waist and said, “A bit chubby here, aren’t we?”
She was harassed by the paparazzi
With three new documentaries about Princess Diana set to premiere, Prince William and Prince Harry are opening up about their memories of their mother. Some are uplifting, like how she involved them in her charitable work. But their recollections of Diana dealing with the paparazzi are disturbing. As Prince William says in the ITV and HBO documentary, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy: “If you are the Princess of Wales and you’re a mother, I don’t believe being chased by 30 guys on motorbikes who block your path, who spit at you to get a reaction from you and make a woman cry in public to get a photograph, is appropriate. Harry and I, we had to live through that.” Here's how Prince Harry and Prince William are keeping their mother's memory alive twenty years after her death.