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. 

Princess Diana, 1964
Princess Diana, 1964 | Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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. 

Princess Diana, 1
Princess Diana, 1 | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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. 

Princess Diana, 3
Princess Diana, 3 | Bettmann

“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. 

Young Princess Diana
Young Princess Diana, circa 1965 | Central Press/Getty Images

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. 

Young Princess Diana
Young Princess Diana, circa 1969 | Fox Photos/Getty Images

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.

Princess Diana and her brother, circa 1968
Princess Diana and her brother, circa 1968 | Central Press/Getty Images

And here’s a six-year-old Diana pushing Charles on a swing. 

Princess Diana and her brother
Princess Diana and her brother | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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. 

Princess Diana, circa 1970
Princess Diana, circa 1970 | Central Press/Getty Images

Below, see Diana (center) standing with her family at a wedding in March 1969.

Young Princess Diana at a wedding
Young Princess Diana at a wedding | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Here’s a young Diana on vacation.

Young Princess Diana
Young Princess Diana | Central Press/Getty Images

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.

Princess Diana, 1971
Princess Diana, 1971 | Central Press/Getty Images

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.

Princess Diana with her pet pony, 1974
Princess Diana with her pet pony, 1974 | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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.

Princess Diana, 1974
Princess Diana, 1974 | Central Press/Getty Images

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.