Beyond the Crown: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Princess Diana

By Jack Ripley | December 18, 2023

The People's Princess Is Born, 1961

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(Getty Images)

Born in July 1961 to the noble family of the Spencers, Diana's early childhood was spent in the stately grandeur of Park House, a Georgian-style manor in the small hamlet of Sandringham, Norfolk. Later, the family would move to the Althorp House in Northamptonshire, which Diana considered home - and where she would later be buried. 

A former employee of the Althorp House reminisced on how they believed it's what the princess would have wanted: 

Looking back, [living here] was probably the happiest time of her life. You get the sense that she is coming home. Her father is buried here. I’m sure it is what she would have wanted.

A Fractured Family, 1967

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(Mary Evans Picture Library)

Her upbringing was not without its issues - her parents, John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Frances Shand Kydd, had a troubled marriage, and were divorced by the time Diana was six years old. Frances had fallen in love with another man, and John was awarded custody of Diana and all her siblings - her younger brother Charles, and two older sisters, Sarah and Jane. Charles, with whom Diana was very close, said their father was a "quiet and constant source of love". On the other hand, Diana never felt able to fully rely on her mother again after that, and kept her at an arm's length: 

My mother let me down terribly...she drove me mad … It was me that was being strong and her sobbing the whole time.