What better way to remember the Queen of Hearts, Lady Diana on her 22nd death anniversary, than reading about her life and going through the wealth of pictures that have immortalized her life. She was undoubtedly one of the most photographed faces in the world during her lifetime and that’s what makes People Diana - An Amazing Life an appropriate tribute for the woman who would have been Queen. The book follows her life from the moment she was chosen as Prince Charles’ bride to the moment she breathed her last in Paris; each and every cover story of People magazine (42 in total) from 1981 to 1997 features here. Going through it will give you an insight into Diana’s life as a mother, social worker and finally as the unwanted princess and wife in a troubled marriage.
The First Phase - Fairytale Marriage and Rise to Stardom
She was hardly 19 when Diana Spencer was announced as the Future Queen of England.
The media-shy daughter of John Spencer soon acclimatized herself with the British Press, after initial resistance, and went onto become most clicked Britisher in the world. Be it the birth of her sons or her trip to the Swiss Alps, everything that happened during the first seven years of her marriage to Prince Charles was lapped up by all, including People magazine.
In this book, you get to see some of the rare photographs of Diana, along with her husband, her sons and even her then sister-in-law Sarah Ferguson. It was during this phase of her life that people began to love her more than her husband, and that’s why whatever she did, made headlines. Don’t be surprised to find the original wedding card in these pages, because a lot of research has been done to make this book as lifelike as possible, for the readers.
The Second Phase - Her Troublesome Marriage and the Other Woman
Princess Diana was not a saint but she was the mother of Prince Charles’ two kids and had a long list of fans all over the world. Through this book, which is more pictorial than narrative-based, you will get to know why Diana was considered to be the best ambassador of the British crown and why many adored her for being classy, evasive and yet accessible at the same time. In the photographs taken after Charles’ infidelity became common knowledge, she could be seen as a broken woman who knew how to maintain her dignity even in such disastrous times. She knew how to dress for certain occasions and although there is no image of her visit to Pakistan, we all know how stunning she looked in the shalwar kameez. It is during this phase of her life that she was diagnosed with a mysterious illness; rare photographs from her childhood made it to the print and so did her regular outings with her sons.
The Final Phase - Of Separation, Divorce & Death
All who had witnessed the fairy tale wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on television in 1981, the news regarding their separation and divorce came as a shock. However, this book and the many photographs of Di it features has a different story to tell. No person in his right mind would ever have preferred Camilla Parker Bowles over Princess Diana, except Prince Charles, of course. The anger in Diana’s eyes, that wasn’t picked up by television during the last few years of her marriage to Prince Charles, is evident in these pictures. She is shown as a caring mother after her separation, while Charles could be seen as an aloof parent when it was his turn to look after the kids.
And then there was Camilla who had an affair with the not-so-charming Prince. Anyone besides Diana would have given up and accepted defeat post betrayal, but Diana being the Princess of Hearts, took the matter head-on and after her divorce, emerged as someone who was more suitable for the throne than her ex. The book also highlights some of her affairs, the final one being her affair with business tycoon Dodi Al-Fayed, who was with her in the car during the ill-fated accident. Since it is a People publication, there is no controversy, just the facts and the story as it was printed back in the day. However, since the House of Windsor is always full of drama, deceit, extramarital affairs and everything in between, the book has underlying spice that you’ll find if you look between the lines.
- Omair Alavi is a freelance journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]