Princess Diana: 5 Rare Photos of the Princess of Wales When She and Prince Charles Were Dating

Say the name Diana, Princess of Wales and it probably brings to mind images of a glamorous and confident woman. Before her tragic death in 1997 she’d certainly been both those things but when she first started dating Charles, Prince of Wales, the then-Lady Diana Spencer hadn’t been used to having her every move photographed. Ahead, check out rare photos of Diana taken at a time when the world wanted to know more about the future king’s girlfriend. 

Princess Diana first met Prince Charles when he’d been dating her sister

Before they began dating in 1980, a 16-year-old Diana met Charles when he came to the Spencer family home, Althorp, for a visit in 1977. At the time he’d been seeing Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale.

Prince Charles and Lady Sarah McCorquodale
Prince Charles and Lady Sarah McCorquodale | Tim Graham Photo Library

According to tape recordings of Diana done for Andrew Morton’s biography, Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, the future Princess of Wales wasn’t very impressed with Charles when she first met him

Here’s how Diana described her first impression of Charles: 

“So I remember him coming to Althorp to stay, my husband, and the first impact was ‘God, what a sad man.’ He came with his Labrador [Harvey]. My sister was all over him like a bad rash and I thought: ‘God he must really hate that.’ I kept out of the way.”

A short time later Diana described Charles as “charm himself” telling others she’d been “sort of amazed” by him. They began dating in 1980 and when the press learned of the romance, photographers and reporters began waiting for Diana outside of her apartment, her work, and everywhere else she went. Below, see Diana in the apartment she lived in when she and Charles were dating. 

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Kypros/Getty Images

Clearly, Diana wasn’t used to being hounded by the press day and night.

She attended Princess Margaret’s birthday party

Talk about wanting to be a fly on the wall. A young Diana got a spot on the guest list at Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowden’s 50th birthday party. Wearing a pink dress and gold shoes, Diana can be seen leaving the Ritz Hotel in London, England, after the celebration.  

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Kids chanted at Diana when she walked by

As her romance with Charles continued, the public became more and more enthralled with Diana. As she walked through London’s Kensington neighborhood, photographers took her pictures while kids reportedly chanted “Prince Charles’ girlfriend.” 

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Bettmann

Media attention increased right before Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced their engagement

Shortly before Charles and Diana went public with the news of their engagement on Feb. 24, 1981, the media’s interest in Diana intensified. 

Surrounded by photographers, a young Diana spoke to a reporter while walking down the street. 

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Ian Tyas/Getty Images

Here she is again in her new car outside her apartment days before her engagement to Charles had been announced. Getting used to her new ride, she stalled her car and photographers were there to capture the moment. 

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Tom Stoddart/Getty Images

Diana and Charles reportedly went on 12 dates before getting engaged. They didn’t spend much time together one-one-one but they have outings on Charles’ family’s yacht and traveled to Balmoral, a vacation home in Scotland. 

Judging from the pictures of Diana taken when she and Charles were dating, she came a long way from her days of being called “Shy Di” by reporters. While she had a strange relationship with the press, Diana knew how to harness her star power to focus on causes important to her.