The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer was born at Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk on July 1st 1961, on a very warm summer day, the hottest summer afternoon for about fifteen years. She was born at 7:45pm weighing 7lbs 12 oz and the delivery was in the same room that her mother had been born in in January 1936.
Diana was the third of five children, to Edward John (Johnnie) and Francis Spencer, she was not the longed for heir that her parents so desperately wanted and from an early age, she knew that they had longed for a boy, and had been disappointed at the prospect that she was a girl but nevertheless she knew that she was much loved and adored by them.
Diana at Park House aged 1 year
Francis and Johnnie had a baby boy one year before Diana was born, they named him John but he was so badly deformed that he only lived for 10 hours. Three years later Diana's parents had the much longed for boy that they so desperately wanted, and named him Charles.
The family lived at Park House, Sandringham, when Diana was born, although she was not named for a week - as her parents had been so sure that she would be a boy and had not chosen any names for a girl.
Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, where
Diana was born on July 1st 1961
Diana aged nine years
Sunday, 30th August 1961
Diana was christened in St Mary Magdelene Church, Sandringham on Sunday 30th August 1961 by the Right Reverend Percy Herbert and Cine Camera footage, taken by her father, is displayed at Althorp House, which is open from July 1st to September 30th each year.
Park House was acquired by her mothers family - the Fermoys, when Maurice Fermoy - the 4th Baron - was granted the lease by George V. The building had originally been constructed to accommodate guests and staff from nearby Sandringham. Maurice Fermoy - Diana's Grandfather was the Conservative MP for Kings Lynn, Norfolk, while his wife founded the Kings Lynn festival for arts and music.
Visiting Althorp to see her grandparents was not something that Diana relished, compared to grand, austere Althorp, Park House was small and comfortable, and felt more homely to Diana.
Diana loved her Cat, Marmalade, a bad tempered animal that wasn't as popular with other members of the family - and their Cocker Spaniel, Jill!!
When the 7th Earl - Jack Spencer - died in 1975, the family left Park House and moved to Althorp, but Park House always remained special to Diana and she often visited when her former home later became a hotel for the disabled.
Diana was a playmate of Princes Andrew and Edward because Park House was on the Queen's Sandringham estate and had an outdoor swimming pool, which the young princes used to play in.
Sadly for Diana, her parents divorced when she was six years old, her mother, Frances, moved away to London, Diana said that she would never forget the sound of her mothers car driving away that night as she sat crying on the stairs. Her mother, Frances married Peter Shand Kydd, the wallpaper heir, in May 1969.
Diana during a trip to her mothers,
Isle of Seil, Scotland, 1974
During a Summer Holiday
Itchenor, East Sussex
Diana and her Charges at
The Young England Kindergarten, Pimlico
In 1970, when Diana was nine years old, she attended Prepatory School, at Riddlesworth Hall boarding school in Norfolk, Diana did not want to leave home but grew fond of the idea especially when she was told that she could have her pet guinea pig, Peanuts, with her.
She was quiet and shy but she was always kind and helpful to the younger children and was excellent at swimming, dancing and netball and was awarded a prize for helpfulness.
In 1972 Frances and Peter moved to the remote Isle of Seil in Argyllshire where summer holidays were idyllic and fun for Diana and her brother, Charles.
Diana's true character, which was to shine through to her adult life, showed by her visits to the old, sick and infirm which was encouraged through her school.
She also took part in the Voluntary Service unit where she often visited Darenth Park near Dartford, home to mentally and physically disabled people along with severely disturbed teenagers.
Diana would often get down onto her hands and knees to interact with the hospitals patients, an instinct that helped us to endear her and take her to our hearts later in life.
Diana attended West Heath School from the age of 13 to 16, a senior girls boarding school in Kent and then endured a brief stay at The Institute Alpin Videmanette in Rougemont, a Swiss Finishing School.
After one term, about 6 weeks, when she grew extremely homesick, Diana moved to London to share a flat, bought for her by her parents when she turned 18, in Coleherne Court with three of her close friends, Carolyn Bartholomew, Sophie Kimball and Philippa Coaker, they were joined a month later by Anne Bolton and Virginia Pitman.
After leaving school, Diana did housework, waitressing and cleaning through an agency called 'Solve your Problems' and also worked as a nanny for wealthy London families.
Diana also took a cookery course run by Elizabeth Russell in Wimbledon.
Following completion of the course, Diana's mother asked Betty Vacani - the renowned dance teacher - to interview Diana for a job.
After being successful at the interview Diana became a student ballet teacher, but her time at the studio was short-lived after an accident on the ski slopes tore her ankle tendons and that put paid to her budding career, plus she also grew to be too tall.
In 1975, when Diana was 14, her father became the Eighth Earl Spencer, Diana became Lady Diana Spencer. Her two sisters, Sarah and Jane, also became Ladies and her brother Charles became Viscount Althorp.
While Diana was working at the Young England Kindergarten in Pimlico, London - just before her engagement was announced - she agreed to have a photograph taken of her with some of her younger charges, simply because she thought that if she agreed, the beseiging Press and Paparazzi Photographers that followed her everywhere would go away and leave her alone.
Perhaps she was being a little hasty and naive in thinking that because they didn't - she was never going to be left alone as she found out from that day onwards.
During Charles and Diana's engagement, on a visit to Park House, which is now a home for the disabled, the Queen and Prince Charles noticed a signature scrawled on a sash window that was done by Diana when she was younger, Charles removed the sash window to Highgrove house, one of ther future married homes - and had it installed there as a permanent reminder to Diana of her childhood home.
Left: The photograph that Diana was to hate - upon seeing this photograph in the newspaper, she broke down in tears saying:-
"I was so nervous - I never thought I'd be standing with the light right behind me - I don't want to be remembered for not wearing a petticoat"