SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

British Royals

Diana’s last summer

Diana, Princess of Wales had just divorced Prince Charles and was ready for a fresh start when her life was cut short in a Paris car crash in August 1997.

Her final months were spent advocating for a number of humanitarian issues. As another sombre anniversary passes, here is how Diana, “the People’s Princess,” spent her final months.

May 1997

Embed from Getty Images

In May, Diana visited Lahore to help raise money for a cancer clinic set up by her friend and Pakistani cricket star, Imran Khan. At the time, there were rumours speculating an on-off romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Three years after her death, Imran said his private conversations during the visit left him with no doubt of her feelings for Doctor Khan.

In the TV documentary Diana: Her Last Love, Imran said, “It was clear that she was very deeply in love with Dr Hasnat, and I just don’t think she could have got over it that quickly.”

June 1997

Embed from Getty Images

Perhaps it is one of Diana’s most recognised dresses, her turquoise Jacques Azagury dress she wore to the Royal Albert Hall on 3 June as she met cast members of Swan Lake. The Princess had a passion for dance, and after her divorce, the English National Ballet was the only non-humanitarian charity she dedicated her time to. She was seen at fundraising galas, helping to raise thousands for the company.

Embed from Getty Images

It would be their last meeting – Diana and Mother Teresa walking hand-in-hand through the streets of Bronx, New York, on 18 June. At the time, Mother Teresa, who was in very poor health, blessed the Princess during their 40-minute visit. This followed Diana’s meeting with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton at the White House. Mother Teresa died just days after Diana, on 5 September in Kolkata, India.

Embed from Getty Images

On 22 June, Diana returned to the United States once again, and this time, it was to give back by auctioning off some of her most iconic dresses at Christie’s. Seventy-nine cocktail and evening dresses were auctioned off, including Victor Edelstein’s ink-blue velvet gown that Diana wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House. The New York Times reported the auction brought in more than $3.25 million and that particular dress sold for $222,500.

Diana graced the July cover of Vanity Fair. The issue focused on how she was coping with her divorce and attempting to rebuild her life. The photos taken by Mario Testino would be the last official portraits taken of her.

July 1997

Embed from Getty Images

On 1 July, her 36th birthday, Diana attended the 100th anniversary celebration of the Tate Gallery in London. She once again wore a gown by Jacque Azagury. Diana was the guest of honour at the celebrity-filled event.

Later in the month, Diana was seen on holiday in St. Tropez in the South of France. The Daily Express reported she was there to visit Dodi Al-Fayed, the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. During the trip, she stayed at the family’s 30-bedroom villa, Castle St. Therese. Diana stayed in the villa several times this summer before the pair died in Paris.

Embed from Getty Images

After the holiday, Diana joined celebrities, including Naomi Campbell and Elton John, at a memorial service in Milan for Gianni Versace. A friend of Diana’s, the Italian brand was a go-to label as she wore many Versace gowns during public appearances.

August 1997

Embed from Getty Images

Diana travelled to the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, to continue her work in the fight against landmines. During the three-day visit, she visited the homes of landmine victims and met with local rehabilitation specialists and disability groups. Prior to leaving Bosnia, the tabloids were full of speculation about Diana’s relationship with Dodi.

Embed from Getty Images

Near the end of the month, Diana was pictured enjoying time on the water in the South of France and Sardinia. After their time in Sardinia, Diana and Dodi travelled to Paris on Saturday, 30 August.

Leaving dinner at the Ritz Hotel, they would never reach their next destination. Their limousine was pursued by photographers on motorbikes. The chase led to tragedy in the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel. Diana, Dodi, and their chauffeur, Henri Paul, were killed in a car crash early Sunday morning, 31 August.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.