The former Princess of Wales has been the subject of many books and
countless newspaper and magazine articles. This definitive
biography by historian and acclaimed royal biographer Sarah
Bradford cuts through the myths and half truths surrounding Diana
to present a realistic look at one of the 20th century's most
Diana Spencer was born into wealth and aristocracy. She was six
years old when her mother abandoned the family, and the four
Spencer children were ushered off to boarding schools. Her father
remarried after a bitter divorce in which he acquired custody of
the children, who neither accepted nor liked their
Diana excelled at sports but was a reluctant student. She was
deeply troubled by her mother's abandonment and her father's new
marriage. When she completed her formal education, she moved into a
flat with friends and found work as a kindergarten aide.
It was during this time, as a shy teenager, that she stumbled upon
the world stage. She dated and then became engaged to Prince
Charles. During the engagement period Diana was moody and
emotionally fragile. No one bothered to explain what was expected
of her and how things were done in royal circles. Charles had
little patience and no understanding of her problems. He still
loved another --- Camilla --- who would soon become the most famous
"other woman" in history.
The royal wedding was the stuff of which fairy tales are made. It
was televised around the world; no one who watched the ceremony
will ever forget the elaborate, extravagant event.
Diana fulfilled her duty, producing an heir and the spare, William
and Harry. She was a doting mother who delighted in her boys,
giving them money and taking them shopping. She accompanied them to
homeless shelters where they met people they otherwise never would
have encountered. Diana already was preparing William to be a
monarch who understood what life was like outside the palace
Her marriage though was a nightmare. The royal couple had nothing
in common. Diana loved dance and music and, being quite young,
wanted to have a good time. Charles was interested in polo,
architecture and organic gardening. He was a self-centered man who
lived a very insulated life in which his every wish was met. Diana,
insecure and overly sensitive, suffered from bulimia. Charles was
insensitive to her needs, which were many, and quite jealous of her
celebrity. The crowds could not get enough of her, and she quickly
became the most photographed and sought-after woman in the
Seeking to carve out a niche for herself, Diana championed causes
such as AIDS awareness, homelessness and, during the last year of
her life, the elimination of land mines. She visited hospitals and
was able to connect with people on a very personal and emotional
level. Diana easily could raise funds for any group or cause that
caught her attention.
Diana was desperate for Charles's love and affection, yet the
shadow of Camilla was ever present. The publication of various
tell-all books (with the secret blessings and even assistance at
times of Diana and Charles) and the airing of television interviews
in which adultery was admitted created a media circus.
Following a lengthy and bitter separation, and the inevitable
divorce, Diana was determined to reinvent herself as a person in
her own right. She had money, status, connections, beauty,
celebrity, and finally, the freedom to do exactly as she pleased.
By now she had a love/hate relationship with the media, which often
she encouraged and/or manipulated. Her many affairs of the heart
always made headlines.
Ultimately, Diana became involved with the Al-Fayeds. The media
went overboard in their pursuit of Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed, as
rumors were afloat that they were planning to marry. Diana's life
ended abruptly and tragically as a result of a bizarre car
accident. The fairy tale had a sad ending, indeed.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on December 29, 2010