The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales occurred on Sunday, 31 August 1997 following a car accident in Paris, France. The vehicle in which the Princess was travelling was involved in a high-speed accident in the Place de l'Alma underpass in central Paris shortly before midnight on Saturday, 30 August. The Princess was taken to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, where she underwent two hours of emergency surgery before being declared dead at 0300 BST. The Princess's companion, Mr Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the vehicle died in the accident, whilst a bodyguard was seriously injured.
The Princess's body was subsequently repatriated to the United Kingdom in the evening of Sunday, 31 August by a BAe 146 aircraft of the Royal Squadron. The Prince of Wales and the Princess's elder sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, accompanied the Princess's coffin on its return journey. Upon arrival at RAF Northolt, the coffin, draped with a Royal Standard, was removed from the aircraft and transferred to a waiting hearse by a bearer party from The Queen's Colour Squadron of the RAF. The Prime Minister was among those in the reception party.
From RAF Northolt the coffin was taken to a private mortuary in London, so that the necessary legal formalities could be completed. Shortly after midnight, it was moved to the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, where it lay privately until the funeral on Saturday, 6 September, in Westminster Abbey. The Princess's family and friends visited the Chapel to pay their respects.
Following the funeral service, the coffin then was taken by road to the family estate at Althorp for a private interment. The Princess was buried in sanctified ground on an island in the centre of an ornamental lake
Childhood and teenage years
Diana, Princess of Wales, formerly Lady Diana Frances Spencer, was born on 1 July 1961 at Park House near Sandringham, Norfolk. She was the youngest daughter of the then Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, now the late (8th) Earl Spencer and the Hon. Mrs Shand-Kydd, daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy. Earl Spencer was Equerry to George VI from 1950 to 1952, and to The Queen from 1952 to 1954. Lady Diana's parents, who had married in 1954, separated in 1967 and the marriage was dissolved in 1969. Earl Spencer later married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth in 1976.
Together with her two elder sisters Sarah (born 1955), Jane (born 1957) and her younger brother Charles (born 1964), Lady Diana continued to live with her father at Park House, Sandringham, until the death of her grandfather, the 7th Earl Spencer. In 1975, the family moved to the Spencer family seat at Althorp (a stately house dating from 1508) in Northamptonshire, in the English Midlands.
Lady Diana was educated first at a preparatory school, Riddlesworth Hall at Diss, Norfolk, and then in 1974 went as a boarder to West Heath, near Sevenoaks, Kent. At school she showed a particular talent for music (as an accomplished pianist), dancing and domestic science, and gained the school's award for the girl giving maximum help to the school and her schoolfellows. She left West Heath in 1977 and went to finishing school at the Institut Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont, Switzerland, which she left after the Easter term of 1978. The following year she moved to a flat in Coleherne Court, London. For a while she looked after the child of an American couple, and she worked as a kindergarten teacher at the Young England School in Pimlico.
Marriage and family
On 24 February 1981 it was officially announced that Lady Diana was to marry The Prince of Wales. As neighbours at Sandringham until 1975, their families had known each other for many years, and Lady Diana and the The Prince had met again when he was invited to a weekend at Althorp in November 1977.
They were married at St Paul's Cathedral in London on 29 July 1981, in a ceremony which drew a global television and radio audience estimated at around 1,000 million people, and hundreds of thousands of people lining the route from Buckingham Palace to the Cathedral. The wedding reception was at Buckingham Palace
The marriage was solemnised by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Runcie, together with the Dean of St Paul's; clergy from other denominations read prayers. Music included the hymns 'Christ is made the sure foundation', 'I vow to thee my country', the anthem 'I was glad' (by Sir Hubert Parry), a specially composed anthem 'Let the people praise thee' by Professor Mathias, and Handel's 'Let the bright seraphim' performed by Dame Kiri te Kanawa. The lesson was read by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr George Thomas (the late Lord Tonypandy).