This Day in History… August 31, 1997

Princess Diana’s Sudden Death 


On August 31, 1997, the world was shocked when Princess Diana was involved in a car crash that took her life.

Born on July 1, 1961, Diana had a privileged childhood, growing up at the Park House, owned by the Royal Family. She met Prince Charles at a party in 1977 and the two began to date. Diana quickly went from living a private life to being a public figure. She was photographed almost everywhere she went and became a fashion icon.

Prince Charles proposed in February 1981, and the pair were married that July. It was one of the most anticipated wedding’s of the century, watched by 700 million people worldwide. Less than a year later, Diana gave birth to her first son, William. And Harry was born in 1984. Despite their royal heritage, Diana insisted her boys have as normal a childhood as possible.


As a princess, and more importantly, a member of the royal family, it was expected that Diana show an interest in charity and give back to those less fortunate. Diana did so much more. She had a genuine concern for the well being of others and did all she could to help them and make their situations known throughout the world, encouraging others to help too.

By the early 1990s, Diana and Charles had begun growing apart. They separated in 1992 and divorced four years later. Though no longer a royal, Diana was still the Princess of Wales, and popularly known as the “People’s Princess.”

Despite being divorced from the future king of England and having her name constantly in the press, Diana felt like her life was just beginning. In 1997, she began dating her long-time friend Dodi Al Fayed, the 41-year-old son of an Egyptian billionaire.


That August, the happy couple vacationed in Monaco, Italy, and Sardinia before stopping for a night in Paris. Hounded by paparazzi every where they went, they used a decoy car so they wouldn’t be followed. However, their driver was reportedly drunk and driving too fast and crashed the car in a tunnel. Attempts were made to save Diana, but her injuries were too severe and she died at 4:00 that morning.

The world was shocked at the announcement of her passing and millions traveled to London for her funeral on September 6. Despite her tragic death, Diana’s sons have carried on her charitable legacy, informing a new generation of their mother’s good works.

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