Diana, Princess of Wales, wanted nothing more than to be queen of people’s hearts — and when she died on August 31, 1997, crowds across the world wept to have been robbed of her so soon. A loving mother, devoted humanitarian, and style icon whose glamour and genuine nature captivated those around her, Diana’s loss was felt by many, and her missing presence has haunted not just sons Prince William and Prince Harry, but the whole British royal family. Her royal legacy lives on in a series of iconic photos that show the Princess going where she was told not to go and wearing what she was told not to wear, snapshots of defiance where you’d swear you can almost see the royal winking back at you.
Diana’s shake-up to the royal family may only exist in photos now, Meghan Markle’s recent arrival to (and exit from) the royal family reminded many of Harry’s late mother. For some, it wasn’t until Meghan came along that another royal like Diana even felt possible — someone who broke the rules, wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and who acted as a champion of the people, not a representative of the British upper class. Diana’s history as a kindergarten teacher and her determination to continue her charity work after her split from Charles wasn’t incidental to her fame as a royal, but a key part of why the public felt so connected to her.
In Diana, and for some now in Meghan, the public felt they had a representative in the royal midst. Princess Diana’s life was consumed by the fame she earned as a royal, marrying Charles at just 19, but she grew into a savvy public figure and never lost sight of the causes most important to her, right up until her too-soon death. As long as the world continues to ogle over the photos that captured her momentous feats and moments of daring to stand out, her legacy will always live on.
Take a look at the photos that best captured her life to see why Diana still holds such a special place in our hearts.