People

The STORY of Diana

THOSE WHO KNEW THE ‘PEOPLE’S PRINCESS’ BEST, INCLUDING HER BROTHER CHARLES SPENCER, REFLECT ON HER SHORT LIFE AND ENDURING LEGACY
A Princess for the World “Diana had her flaws but also enormous strengths,” says her friend and charity partner Vivienne Parry. “That’s why she was the most famous woman of her age.”

As a young girl Diana Spencer was many things: a ham, a rascal, an aspiring dancer, a struggling student, a loyal sister and a child of divorce. But she was never, ever a pushover. Rather, “Diana was incredibly brave,” says her brother Charles, 9th Earl Spencer.

“When we stayed up with my mother in Scotland, we used to go lobster-potting. Once we pulled up a pot, and there was a massive eel. It had teeth, and it was flapping around the boat. Diana got a penknife out and just dealt with it. That was a strong girl.”

She would come to rely on that strength—and a remarkable well of compassion—throughout her journey from vivacious young woman to the most loved royal in the world. Whether bending down on eye level to greet her youngest fans or smashing stigmas by holding the hands of AIDS patients, she “had a genius for people,” says Spencer, 53. “She could make any person, whether they were the grandest or the most humble, totally at ease. It’s an incredible gift.”

It is a gift that continues to resonate around the globe, from her admiring fans to her sons Prince William, 35, and Prince Harry, 32, who are carrying on much of her public work. Now, 20 years after her death in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, many of those closest to her are sharing their memories in a two-part television event from People and ABC, The Story of Diana, airing Aug. 9 and 10 at 9/8c.“She was a spectacular rocket that flew up and illuminated us all,” says her charity partner Vivienne Parry. And yet for a woman who lived her life under a brighter spotlight than anyone before or since, “we didn’t truly know her,” says Parry. Here, friends and family remember the complex, captivating Diana they loved and lost.

The third daughter of English aristocrat John, 8th

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