After her divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana embarked on a new chapter in her life. She continued to work tirelessly in support of charities around the world, using her fame to raise awareness of a number of humanitarian issues. But when the Princess started dating again, she became the focus of relentless paparazzi attention.
Following reports of Diana's relationships with Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al-Fayed, this media buzz reached new heights during the summer of 1997. From her charity work to a Mediterranean getaway with her new friend Al-Fayed, here's how the Princess spent her final weeks.
In May, Diana visited Lahore to help raise money for a cancer clinic set up by her close friend and Pakistani cricket star, Imran Khan. At the time of the trip, there was speculation surrounding the Princess' on/off romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Three years after her death, that his private conversations with the Princess during this visit left him in no doubt of her feelings for the doctor. "She had been involved with him for two years and she had wanted to marry him," Imran said in the television documentary Diana: Her Last Love. "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."
Diana was passionate about dance and after her divorce, the English National Ballet was the only non-humanitarian charity she chose to dedicate her time to. Her support and presence at fundraising galas helped to raise thousands of pounds for the company and in June 1997, the Princess met with members of the cast Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She wore a turquoise Jacques Azagury dress, which went on to become one of her most famous looks.
At what would be their last meeting, Diana and Mother Teresa walked hand-in-hand through the streets of the Bronx in New York. Reports at the time said Mother Teresa, who was in seriously poor health, blessed the Princess during her 40-minute visit, which followed Diana's meeting at the White House with Hillary Clinton. On September 5th of the same year, Mother Teresa passed away at the age of 87 in Kolkata, India.
Later in June, Diana returned to New York to attend a gala party to launch an auction of some of her most iconic dresses with Christie's. reported that the sale of 79 cocktail and evening dresses belonging to the Princess brought in $3.25 million for the charities she supported. The sought-after designs included Victor Edelstein's ink blue velvet gown that Diana wore when she danced at the White House with John Travolta. It sold for $222,500.
Diana graced the July cover of Vanity Fair magazine, only a month before her tragic death. The issue focused on how the she was coping with the divorce and attempting to rebuild her life after Prince Charles. The photographs taken by Mario Testino turned out to be the last official portraits taken of the Princess. "Photographing Diana, Princess of Wales for Vanity Fair in 1997 was one of the most memorable days of my career," .
On her 36th birthday, the Princess attended the 100th anniversary celebration of the Tate Gallery in London. Dressed in a black gown by Jacques Azagury, she was the guest of honor at the celebrity-filled event. According to author Tina Brown, the special day was a memorable one for the Princess. "She received 90 bouquets of flowers, and Harry gathered a group of classmates to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her over the telephone," Brown wrote in .
In July 1997, Diana was seen on holiday in St. Tropez in the South of France. According to , the Princess was visiting Dodi Al-Fayed, the son of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, in the family's 30-bedroom villa, Castle St. Therese, with her sons William and Harry. She is said to have grown close to Dodi here, and stayed in the villa several times throughout the summer before the pair died in Paris.
After her holiday, Princess Diana joined celebrities including Elton John and Naomi Campbell at a memorial service in Milan for her friend, fashion designer Gianni Versace. The Italian brand was a go-to label for the Princess, who wore the label's glamorous gowns for many of her public appearances.
In August, Diana traveled to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, where she continued to draw attention to the fight against landmines during a three-day visit. At the time, the described the trip as "entirely private." She visited the homes of landmine victims and met with local disability groups and rehabilitation specialists. Prior to her departure, the British tabloids were full of speculation about Diana's friendship with Al-Fayed.
At the end of the summer, it was reported that Diana was on a cruise of the Mediterranean on Al-Fayed's luxury yacht. They traveled from the South of France to Sardinia before flying to Paris on Saturday, August 30.
Following their time in Sardinia, Diana and Al-Fayed traveled to Paris together. After a dinner at the Ritz Hotel that evening, they left by a limousine and were pursued by photographers on motorbikes. The chase led to tragedy in an underpass in the French capital. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Diana, Al-Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul were killed when their car crashed in Pont de l'Alma tunnel.
Six days after her death, Diana was laid to rest on her family estate at Althorp, England. Her funeral at Westminster Abbey was watched or listened to by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide, and around one million people lined the streets of London to pay their last respects. Outside her home at Kensington Palace, a carpet of floral tributes stretched out into Kensington Gardens. Two decades later, a memorial garden has opened at the Princess' former home, where her sons Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, his wife the Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, now live.