Princess Diana: 13 Photos From Her Childhood
Diana, Princess of Wales had an unhappy childhood.
We already know Diana had a disastrous marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales but she’d also been through many painful experiences prior to joining the British royal family. She grew up as part of a well respected, aristocratic family. Ahead, see photos from Diana’s childhood and learn more about her early years.
Her parents were disappointed in her
Diana grew up with the knowledge her parents had been disappointed in her the moment she’d been born. They’d already had two daughters — Sarah and Jane — and really wanted a boy after they’d lost a son named John who only lived for 10 hours.
Royal biographer Andrew Morton wrote in his book, Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, Diana carried the disappointment with her well into adulthood.
Diana’s birth on July 1, 1961, came 18 months after the death of John. In tapes recorded for the book, Diana said she felt like a drag on her family.
“I couldn’t understand why I was perhaps a nuisance to have around which, in later years, I’ve perceived as being part of the [whole question of the] son, the child who died before me was a son and both parents were crazy to have a son and heir,” she said.
Morton also said Diana’s parents didn’t have any baby names for girls picked out because they’d so desperately wanted a boy.
Princess Diana had a close relationship with her younger brother
Three years after Diana’s parents were disappointed they got another daughter, they got what they wanted, a son.
Diana became close with her younger brother, Charles, and they spent a lot of time together as children.
Here they are smiling for the camera in around 1968.
And here’s a six-year-old Diana pushing Charles on a swing.
After Diana’s death in 1997, Charles gave a memorable eulogy at her funeral.
Diana’s parents’ divorce had been hard on her
Diana became a child of divorce at the age of eight. Her parents separated when she’d been six and the breaking up of her family had been hard. Both her parents went on to remarry.
Below, see Diana (center) standing with her family at a wedding in March 1969.
Here’s a young Diana on vacation.
Narrator Gwilym Lee spoke of the difficult time Diana had with her parents’ split in the documentary, Royal House of Windsor.
“A witness to her parents’ acrimonious divorce, she and her siblings were the subjects of a bitter custody battle. As a result, Diana’s mother had to give up her children,” Lee said. “Diana later admitted she had been haunted by the crunch of the gravel as her mother departed.”
Princess Diana had trouble fitting in
It’s hard to imagine Diana not being able to fit in and feel accepted by those around her but it’s something she struggled with in her youth.
While people felt drawn to her enigmatic personality, Diana didn’t feel a sense of belonging probably stemming from her parents’ disappointment in her not being born a boy.
“She was damaged, mentally, by her experiences,” Penny Junor, a royal biographer, said in the documentary.
As she got older, Diana carried the painful experiences of her childhood with her. She didn’t perform well academically and resented being sent away for schooling.
In 1980, she started dating Charles and after what is reported to have been only 12 dates, they got engaged.
For more on Diana, learn about her relationship with Queen Elizabeth II.