Diana always attended charity events and tried to help people instead of having grand parties on her birthday.
Princess Diana turned 36 on July 1, 1997, and as she was celebrating, she was simultaneously creating her new life outside of the British royal family.
It had been a year after her divorce from Prince Charles had been finalized, she was devoting herself to charitable work all over the world. A Vanity Fair piece had just been published the day before in which the "People's Princess" had expressed her desire to "rebuild" her life. She told the outlet, "Nothing gives me more pleasure now than being able to love and help those in our society who are vulnerable."
happy birthday to princess diana, she would've been celebrating her 61st birthday today. pic.twitter.com/R2hNQrMsXQ— pop culture (@notgwendalupe) July 1, 2022
Her life was sadly cut short just a few weeks after her 36th birthday in a car accident in Paris in the early hours of August 31. Tina Brown portrays the accident incident in her novel The Diana Chronicles. Diana awoke in pain from internal injuries, according to Dr. Frederic Mailliez, an EMT who happened to be traveling through the tunnel at the time of the crash, per Oprah Daily. Brown further wrote, "She turned her head and saw the lifeless Dodi just in front of her, then turned her head again toward the front where the bodyguard was writhing and where Henri Paul lay dead. She became agitated, then lowered her head and closed her eyes."
According to Sergeant Xavier Gourmelon, who led the reaction squad in Paris, Diana's final words were, "My God, what’s happened?"
princess diana on one of her last vacations, 1997! 🌱 pic.twitter.com/cQHxey8ovR— Diana moments (@AlwaysbeDiana) June 29, 2022
Diana would have celebrated her 61st birthday this year.
She celeberated her last one with great happiness and joy. According to Brown's memoir, 90 bouquets of flowers were delivered to Kensington Palace that year. A surprise present from fashion designer Jacques Azagury arrived at the Palace in preparation of Princess Diana's charity function that night - a gorgeous floor-length black beaded gown, per South China Morning Post.
Happy heavenly birthday to Princess Diana who would have been 61 today ❤️ pic.twitter.com/zlnnDHuF6N— Liz irvine (@danger2507) July 1, 2022
The phone call she got from her youngest son, Prince Harry, who was then 12 and attending boarding school at Ludgrove, was perhaps the most memorable moment of Princess Diana's final birthday. According to Brown's biography, the young prince called his mother and requested that a bunch of his school pals sing Happy Birthday to her over the phone. That evening, Princess Diana was honored as the guest of honor at the Tate Gallery's 100th anniversary celebration in London. She spent time with her fans who had gathered outside the event. "Diana had a genius for people," her younger brother, Charles said, per PEOPLE.
He recalled the day on her funeral service in September 1997, "The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honour at a special charity fundraising evening. She sparkled, of course."
Happy Birthday, Princess Diana!
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Express/Stringer