The stunning transformation of Princess Diana

BY CHRISTINE-MARIE
LIWAG DIXON


More than 20 years after
Princess Diana’s death, the world is still transfixed by her. Well-noted for
her humanitarian efforts, Diana’s short life was marked by tragedy, but through
it all she tried to live with love and compassion. Transformed from a lonely
young girl to “The People’s Princess,” Diana was never comfortable
with the glare of the cameras, but bravely hid her own pain as she tried to keep
her family together. Above all, she was just a young woman who wanted to love
and to be loved.
Her
childhood was often a lonely one




Growing up with divorced
parents made for a lonely childhood. The Sun released transcripts of tapes made
with Diana’s speech coach, which revealed what her life was like while growing
up. There was a lack of affection in her family and her parents were formal and
distant. “There was no hugs or anything like that,” she said.
“My parents, they never said they loved me.” Diana and her sister,
Sarah, only learned that their father had remarried after reading about it in
the newspaper.
In contrast to her stiff
parents, Diana was a remarkably approachable person. Darren McGrady, who served
as Princess Diana’s personal chef, said that she was down-to-earth and
friendly. “If she was on her own for lunch, she’d actually come and
eat in the kitchen on the countertop,” he told HuffPost. “I’d make a
tray for her and I’d just be tidying up the kitchen and things as we were
chatting.”
Her
compassion extended to animals





Diana’s compassion was evident
when she was still quite young. As a child, she had several animals. “She
loved animals when she was a child,” her mother told biographer Sarah
Bradford, adding that Diana cared for the pets herself. “She had a great
consciousness they were dependent on her. She did the dirty work.”
Her care for animals was a
prelude to her future charity work. “She had rabbits, guinea pigs,
hamsters; a long succession of animals to care for,” said her mother.
“She outgrew it and took on people.”
She
was devoted to humanitarian causes from a young age




Princess Diana’s dedication to
humanitarian efforts was apparent even when she was a child. According to her
brother, Charles Spencer, Diana exhibited “bravery in fighting for good
causes — a gift that she possessed from a very early age.”
The young princess would go on
to become beloved for her dedication to fighting for humanitarian causes. After
her death, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was founded “to
provide resources for palliative care, penal reform, asylum and other
issues.”
She
dreamed of marrying Prince Charles


According to Diana’s childhood
nanny, Mary Clarke, the young girl dreamed of love. Watching her parents’
bitter divorce made her determined not to experience the same heartbreak.
Clarke revealed Diana’s sentiments on marriage to CNN. “She said, ‘I will
never marry unless I’m really in love because if you’re not in love, you’re going
to get divorced — and I never intend to be divorced,'” Clarke said.
“This was quite a profound statement for a little girl to come out
with.”
Clarke added, “Diana’s
dreams all through her childhood really were just to be happily married and to
have a large family.” Diana was infatuated with Prince Charles as a
teenager, decorating her boarding school bedroom with photos of the young
royal. Just 13 at the time, it would only be a few years before her dream of
marrying him would come true. Diana married Prince Charles when she was just 20
years old.
Her
marriage was doomed from the start


It seems cruel that someone
who loved others so much experienced such an unhappy marriage. It was clear
from the beginning that her marriage would be troubled. According to BBC,
Prince Charles admitted to a friend that he did not love Diana when they
were engaged but that he was sure he would grow to care for her. The couple
only met 13 times before they were married and Charles was actually dating
Diana’s sister when he and Diana first met.
She
knew her husband was cheating on her




Despite the flaws in her
marriage, Diana was determined to make it a successful one.  “I
desperately wanted it to work,” she told Martin Bashir for the BBC in
1995. “I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything
together, and I thought that we were a very good team.”
There was a great amount of
pressure upon the young couple, and their marriage was further strained when
Charles renewed his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles around 1986. Diana
revealed that she was aware of the affair but that she “wasn’t in a
position to do anything about it,” adding that “a woman’s instinct is
a very good one.”
According to Diana, her
marriage allowed very little room for her to grow. “I think that I’ve
always been the 18-year-old girl [Charles] got engaged to, so I don’t think
I’ve been given any credit for growth. And, my goodness, I’ve had to
grow.”
She
was a doting mother




Perhaps it was the dysfunction
of her own childhood that made Diana so determined not to repeat her parents’
mistakes with her own children. Diana was devoted to her sons. “Nothing in
her life came close to the love for her children,” her brother told
ABC News. “They meant more to her than anything.”
Andrew Morton, who wrote a
biography about the princess in 1992 called Diana: Her Story, told Fox News
about Diana’s love for her sons. “Diana was very protective of William and
Harry,” he said.”[If] you ever criticized the boys… she would be on
you like a tigress. She was the only one who could criticize those two. Of
course, she indulged them… She wanted to be a full hands-on parent
herself.”
Her
charity work was uncharacteristic of the royal family




Princess Diana’s dedication to
philanthropic efforts made her beloved by the entire world, but her actions
were unexpected at the time. The extent of her charity work and her willingness
to mingle with the underprivileged went above and beyond what was expected of
royals. She told the BBC in 1995, “I would like a monarchy that has more
contact with its people — and I don’t mean by riding round bicycles and things
like that, but just having a more in-depth understanding.” 
While her home life was far
from perfect, Diana channeled her love into helping others, a legacy that still
endures through the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
She
struggled with depression




The difficulties of her
marriage and the knowledge of her husband’s affair had a tremendous effect on Diana’s
mental health. Already suffering from postpartum depression, Diana found
release in binging and purging, referring to bulimia as her “escape
mechanism.”
“By then, the bulimia was
appalling, absolutely appalling,” she said in recorded tapes later aired
on CNN’s Larry King Live. “It was rough. It was four times a day on the
yacht. You know, anything I could find, I would gobble up and be sick two
minutes later. Very tired. So of course, the mood — slightly got the mood
swings going — intense one minute, one would be happy, the next minute, one
would be blubbing one’s eyes out.”
She
was not prepared for the media’s obsession with her




Diana was unprepared for the
media attention that bombarded her when she married Prince Charles, telling Bashir
for the BBC that “it took a long time to understand why people were so
interested in me, but I assumed it was because my husband had done a lot
of wonderful work leading up to our marriage and our relationship.” Far
from being flattered by all of the attention, she was intimidated by it, saying
that “with the media attention came a lot of jealousy, a great deal of
complicated situations arose because of that.”
“She was probably the
most photogenic person I can ever, ever recall,” Ian Down, former picture
editor of Daily Mirror told TIME. “Editors couldn’t get enough of
her.” The media’s obsession with Diana would have catastrophic
consequences when she died in a car accident while trying to escape the
paparazzi.
She
never thought she would become queen




Even though she married the
heir to the throne, Diana never felt that she would become queen. In recorded
tapes played on Larry King Live, Diana revealed her thoughts when Charles
proposed.
“So he said, Will you
marry me? And I — and I laughed. I remember thinking, you know, this is a joke.
So I said, yes, OK and laughed. And he was deadly serious. He said, You do mean
one day — you do realize that one day you’ll be queen. And I — a voice said to
me inside, You won’t be queen, but you’ll have a tough row. So I thought to
myself, OK. So I said yes.”
Whether it was her trademark
humility or a sense of foreboding that made her feel this way is uncertain, but
it is a haunting confession from someone whose life ended in such tragedy.
SOURCE:
THE LIST
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.