BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

news / jpg

Remembering Princess Diana: Mother, Humanitarian, And Fashion Icon

Twenty years ago, we lost the queen of hearts.

Posted on August 31, 2017, at 8:39 a.m. ET

Lady Diana Spencer on a summer holiday in West Sussex, Britain, 1971.
Getty Images

Lady Diana Spencer on a summer holiday in West Sussex, Britain, 1971.

Diana Spencer took on many roles in her short life. She went from lady to princess in 1981 and her fairy-tale wedding captivated hundreds of millions of viewers. She quickly began a family and tried to fit the mold of proper royal princess.

That wouldn't last long, however. Her two sons, William and Harry, would be the best thing to come out of what she revealed to be a "crowded" marriage rife with infidelity. The rebel princess pushed back against tradition and expectation, and channeled her time and energy into humanitarian causes — she was involved with as many as 100 charities at one point.

Much thought was put into the clothes she wore when interacting with the public, like the bright, cheerful colors she wore to appear approachable, and her avoidance of gloves and hats to make human contact and interaction possible. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, images of Diana touching, hugging, and holding those who were sick or dying were a powerful weapon in fighting the stigma of the disease.

On the anniversary of Diana's tragic death, we take a look back at how she went from shy 20-year-old to a princess beloved across the world.

Lady Diana Spencer with a Shetland pony at her mother's home in Scotland, 1974.
Pa Images / Getty Images

Lady Diana Spencer with a Shetland pony at her mother's home in Scotland, 1974.

Princess Diana boards a plane at the start of her honeymoon.
Kypros / Getty Images

Princess Diana boards a plane at the start of her honeymoon.

ADVERTISEMENT
Newlyweds Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.
Bob Thomas / Getty Images

Newlyweds Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981.

Princess Diana holds son Prince William on the day of his christening in August 1982.
Mirrorpix / Getty Images

Princess Diana holds son Prince William on the day of his christening in August 1982.

Princess Diana and Prince William at Kensington Palace.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince William at Kensington Palace.

Princess Diana at a children's home in Ealing, London.
Tom Wargacki / WireImage

Princess Diana at a children's home in Ealing, London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana and Prince Charles watch Prince William play in the garden at Kensington Palace.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince Charles watch Prince William play in the garden at Kensington Palace.

Princess Diana aboard the Royal Princess for the cruise liner's formal naming ceremony. It was named in her honor.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana aboard the Royal Princess for the cruise liner's formal naming ceremony. It was named in her honor.

Princess Diana on her 22nd birthday.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana on her 22nd birthday.

Princess Diana, president of Barnardo’s children's charity in London, receives a bouquet of flowers from Louise Joyce, a resident of Barnardo’s Center, 1986.
Peter Kemp / Associate Press

Princess Diana, president of Barnardo’s children's charity in London, receives a bouquet of flowers from Louise Joyce, a resident of Barnardo’s Center, 1986.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana greets spectators during a trip to Canada.
Georges De Keerle / Getty Images

Princess Diana greets spectators during a trip to Canada.

Princess Diana with Prince William and his pony at Highgrove House.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana with Prince William and his pony at Highgrove House.

A pregnant Princess Diana attends a polo match in 1984.
Uk Press / Getty Images

A pregnant Princess Diana attends a polo match in 1984.

Princess Diana helps Prince William with a jigsaw puzzle.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana helps Prince William with a jigsaw puzzle.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princes William and Harry in the garden of Highgrove House with their mother.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princes William and Harry in the garden of Highgrove House with their mother.

Princess Diana in Thailand, 1988.
Anwar Hussein / WireImage

Princess Diana in Thailand, 1988.

Princess Diana talks to a patient at St. Joseph's Hospice in London.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana talks to a patient at St. Joseph's Hospice in London.

Princess Diana with Prince Harry.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana with Prince Harry.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana at home at Highgrove House.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana at home at Highgrove House.

The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their children at the Spanish royal residence Marivent Palace.
Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their children at the Spanish royal residence Marivent Palace.

Princess Diana and Prince William at a polo match.
Julian Parker / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince William at a polo match.

Princess Diana wears the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara during a tour of Hong Kong in 1989.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana wears the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara during a tour of Hong Kong in 1989.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana takes her sons to school.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana takes her sons to school.

Princess Diana hugs an HIV-positive child in a hostel for children living in poverty near Sao Paulo, Brazil. The princess toured an AIDS ward during the royal tour of Brazil in 1991.
Dave Caulkin / Associated Press

Princess Diana hugs an HIV-positive child in a hostel for children living in poverty near Sao Paulo, Brazil. The princess toured an AIDS ward during the royal tour of Brazil in 1991.

Princess Diana wears a turban hat during her official tour of the Gulf States in Dubai.
Georges De Keerle / Getty Images

Princess Diana wears a turban hat during her official tour of the Gulf States in Dubai.

The Prince and Princess of Wales and their sons go for a family bike ride.
Associated Press

The Prince and Princess of Wales and their sons go for a family bike ride.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana catches Prince Harry sticking his tongue out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace while watching a Trooping the Colour ceremony.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana catches Prince Harry sticking his tongue out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace while watching a Trooping the Colour ceremony.

Princess Diana visits the Pyramids in Giza during a trip to Egypt in 1992.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana visits the Pyramids in Giza during a trip to Egypt in 1992.

Princess Diana and sons during a ski holiday in Austria.
Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

Princess Diana and sons during a ski holiday in Austria.

Princess Diana and Prince William during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.
Bob Thomas / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince William during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana and Prince Harry at a theme park in 1992.
Julian Parker / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince Harry at a theme park in 1992.

Princess Diana comforts a dying woman at Mother Teresa'a Hospice in Calcutta, India.
Anwar Hussein / WireImage

Princess Diana comforts a dying woman at Mother Teresa'a Hospice in Calcutta, India.

Princess Diana and sons on holiday.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana and sons on holiday.

Princess Diana meets children during a visit to the Marie Stopes Clinic in Agra, India.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana meets children during a visit to the Marie Stopes Clinic in Agra, India.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana comforts a patient during a hospital visit in Cameroon.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana comforts a patient during a hospital visit in Cameroon.

Princess Diana shakes hands with a woman at the Mianpur Old Age Welfare Centre in India in February 1992.
Anwar Hussein / WireImage

Princess Diana shakes hands with a woman at the Mianpur Old Age Welfare Centre in India in February 1992.

Princess Diana and Prince Harry arrive at Windsor Chapel for a wedding.
Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

Princess Diana and Prince Harry arrive at Windsor Chapel for a wedding.

Princess Diana serves food to a student at a primary school in Zimbabwe in 1993.
Howard Burditt / Reuters

Princess Diana serves food to a student at a primary school in Zimbabwe in 1993.

ADVERTISEMENT
Prince William, joined by his parents and brother, signs in on his first day at Eton College boarding school in 1995.
Anwar Hussein / WireImage

Prince William, joined by his parents and brother, signs in on his first day at Eton College boarding school in 1995.

Princess Diana at a mosque in Cairo, Egypt.
Tim Graham / Getty Images

Princess Diana at a mosque in Cairo, Egypt.

Princess Diana talks with pediatric nurses during a visit to a children's hospital in Moscow.
/ ASSOCIATED PRESS

Princess Diana talks with pediatric nurses during a visit to a children's hospital in Moscow.

Princess Diana and sons in 1995.
Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

Princess Diana and sons in 1995.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana cradles a sick child during her visit to Imran Khan's cancer hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1996.
Anwar Hussein / WireImage

Princess Diana cradles a sick child during her visit to Imran Khan's cancer hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1996.

Princess Diana visits with a mother and her sick child in the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital in London.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana visits with a mother and her sick child in the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital in London.

Princess Diana talks to amputees during her visit to Angola as part of the Red Cross campaign against land mines in 1997.
Juda Ngwenya

Princess Diana talks to amputees during her visit to Angola as part of the Red Cross campaign against land mines in 1997.

Princess Diana holds hands with Mother Teresa at one of their last meetings before their deaths.
Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

Princess Diana holds hands with Mother Teresa at one of their last meetings before their deaths.

ADVERTISEMENT
Princess Diana chats with children in a Sarajevo suburb during a three-day visit to Bosnia and Herzogovina.
Hidajet Delic / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Princess Diana chats with children in a Sarajevo suburb during a three-day visit to Bosnia and Herzogovina.

Princess Diana walks through one of the safety corridors of an active minefield in Angola during a campaign calling for land mines to be outlawed worldwide.
Juda Ngwenya / Reuters

Princess Diana walks through one of the safety corridors of an active minefield in Angola during a campaign calling for land mines to be outlawed worldwide.

Post-divorce and in the months before her death, Princess Diana (seen here in 1983) had a new man in her life and spent time with her sons in St. Tropez. She continued her work on humanitarian causes with a trip to Bosnia to meet with land mine survivors. On Aug. 31, 1997, she was killed in Paris during a car crash involving paparazzi along with friend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.
Boris Spremo / Getty Images

Post-divorce and in the months before her death, Princess Diana (seen here in 1983) had a new man in her life and spent time with her sons in St. Tropez. She continued her work on humanitarian causes with a trip to Bosnia to meet with land mine survivors. On Aug. 31, 1997, she was killed in Paris during a car crash involving paparazzi along with friend Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul.

ADVERTISEMENT