The People's Princess
Princess Diana, “the people’s princess,” was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married in London, England, in 1981. She is the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry.
Princess Diana is well-known for her charity work, troubled marriage to Prince Charles and her work around the use of landmines. She was also the first person of the royal family to openly talk about depression. Diana suffered post-partum depression after giving birth to Prince William, which she described in an interview with the BBC in 1995.
“I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had a depression or was ever openly tearful,” Diana recalled. “And obviously that was daunting, because if you've never seen it before how do you support it?
“No one ever discusses post-natal depression,” she said. “[It] was a bit of a difficult time. You'd wake up in the morning feeling you didn't want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood and just very, very low in yourself.”
Diana struggled with bulimia and self-harm, both coping mechanisms due to the stress of her marriage, as well as the pressure of being thrust into the public eye. She was constantly hounded by the paparazzi and the details around her loveless marriage were public knowledge.
“You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're asking for,” Diana said. “I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales.
So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn't like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn't cope with the pressures.”
Diana’s bouts of depression, eating disorders and self-harm surrounded her with stigma. She was called unstable, attention-seeking and crazy in the press.
“[My self-harm and depression] gave everybody a wonderful new label: Diana's unstable and Diana's mentally unbalanced,” she told the BBC.
As a world obsessed with the princess, we have seen dozens of books—many of which claim her illnesses had negative impacts on her sons—and articles in tabloids claiming everything from the truth to the bizarre to the tragic. But it’s Diana’s legacy of philanthropy, advocacy and kindheartedness that lives on. On Aug. 31, 1997, Princess Diana was fatally wounded in a car crash in Paris. Nations wept and millions of viewers watched her funeral.
Diana struggled with various forms of mental illness and their symptoms, but they never stopped her from being a wonderful mother, a devoted wife and a dignified, giving royal subject. She dedicated her life to helping others, and that’s what we remember her for.