How old would Princess Diana be today? On July 1, 2023, Princess Diana would have turned 62 years old. While each year that passes is a reminder of the woman that the world lost, her legacy lives on through her sons, William and Harry, her five grandchildren and in the changes she inspired in the monarchy. For an amazing glimpse of what she might look like today, check out this age-progression montage.
Diana stood firm in her belief that the royal family should be less rigid and more relatable and in touch with the people. It’s the way she lived her life and something she instilled in her boys, even if it meant going against royal protocol — or stepping away from the monarchy entirely.
Diana becoming the ‘people’s Princess’
At barely 20 years old, newlywed Diana brought a fresh, approachable informality to the royal family that shook their very foundation. Her connection with the public was immediate, and Princess Di became a media darling, drawing throngs at a whopping 170 official appearances in her first year of marriage alone.
Whereas previous royals greeted crowds primarily and from afar, expecting a deferential reception during the prescribed “walkabout,” Diana fearlessly waded into the multitudes, shaking hands, kneeling to eye level to greet children without restraint or distance. “I don’t go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head,” the princess said later in a 1995 interview on the BBC’s program, Panorama. “But someone’s got to go out there and love people and show it.”
Diana also tore up the royal rule book when it came to displays of affection — messy expressions of emotion that past royals felt destroyed their mystique. “She would just engulf you and squeeze you as tight as possible,” Harry observed in the documentary marking the 20th anniversary of his mother’s death. “And being as short as I was then, there was no escape — you were there and you were there for as long as she wanted to hold you. Even talking about it now I can feel the hugs that she used to give us.”
Princess Diana’s warm approach as a royal mother
Love and warmth infused Diana’s hands-on approach to child-rearing. After the births of Prince William — just 11 months into the marriage — and two years later, Harry, Diana chose to breastfeed and keep her sons close, rather than handing them off to an army of nannies as was customary palace protocol.
Following her lead, William and Kate adopted an even more modern parenting style, as captured in the endearing moment he fumbled to fasten the tiny prince into his car seat like any newbie dad. “Driving your son and your wife away from hospital was really important to me,” the prince said. “I don’t like fuss, so it’s much easier to do it yourself.”
When it came to family travel, Diana took a decidedly different tack from her mum-in-law. Queen Elizabeth II famously left her 2-year-old son Charles with his grandmother for Christmas to be with her husband, Prince Philip, in Malta. And soon after her coronation, the couple left on a six-month Commonwealth tour, leaving the children at home in England.
“Diana and Charles bucked the royal trend of separation by taking 9-month-old William, as well as his nanny, with them on the six-week tour to Australia and New Zealand,” royal expert Christopher Warwick told the Northern Echo in 2013, according to USA Today. “William and Harry were very, very fortunate with Diana as a mother because her ideas were so different to the previous generation.”
Princess Diana’s legacy of love
From making her boys stand in line with everyone else at amusement parks to her countless visits to hospitals, homeless shelters, and those in need, Diana was a woman unlike most and her legacy will live on forever.
Here’s a look back at her life as we remember her on her 62nd birthday.
Before getting married, Diana worked as a nanny and a teacher’s assistant at a London nursery school.
The 20-year-old Diana Spencer officially became Princess Diana, as crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the new bride.
In a blue polka-dot dress and not a hair out of place, Princess Diana and Prince Charles emerged from the hospital holding their first child, Prince William.
Charles and Diana photographed during a playful moment with their son, Prince William.
On September 15, 1984, Princess Diana and Prince Charles welcomed their second son, Prince Harry, to the world.
Diana showed off her moves in a dance with actor John Travolta.
Princess Diana has been celebrated for the work she did to break the stigma surrounding AIDS patients. She approached these patients over the years with love and compassion, showing the world that their fear and judgement wasn’t warranted.
Princess Diana was known for her playful side, seen here as she participated in a race at Prince William’s school.
Princess Diana holds a child with AIDS in a Sao Paulo orphanage.
This tour of South Korea marked the last official tour the duo would take together before their separation.
Princess Diana wanted her children to lead as normal lives as possible.
The so-called “revenge dress,” Diana wore this off the shoulder look to a party hosted by Vanity Fair on the same night Prince Charles’ tell-all documentary aired, in which he confessed to being unfaithful to her.
Diana was consistently present for the important moments in her children’s lives.
No longer tied to the royal customs and protocols, Diana’s personal style evolved to be a true reflection of her taste.
Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident on August 31, 1997, shaking the world. Beloved by nearly everyone, thousands gathered to pay their respects.
A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine, Diana, in 2021.
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