Born Diana Frances Spencer on July 1, 1961, the future royal grew up in a noble family on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Located on the Queen's own property, Diana's childhood home of Park House put her in elite circles from an early age.
Her parents Frances and Edward Althorp had three children before Diana: daughters Sarah and Jane, and a son named John, who died shortly after his birth.
As a toddler, Diana welcomed her younger brother Charles on May 20, 1964.
"From her childhood, Diana had had the feeling that she was destined for something special," wrote biographer . "There was never a chance that she would have, as people have surmised, settled down and led the life of a country gentleman's wife."
Diana plays with her brother Charles, now Viscount Althorp, at Park House.
The siblings pose for a picture at their home in Berkshire.
In a picture taken at her grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, Diana (in the knee-high socks) stands with her brother, sisters and father, "Johnnie" Althorp (back right).
Diana lived a very quiet life until her parents' bitter 1969 divorce made tabloid headlines, the reported. Here, the 9-year-old enjoys a game of croquet while on vacation in West Sussex.
She continued to live in Park House with her father until she left for boarding school in the fall of 1970.
Described as a "shy and quiet" child, Diana allegedly told her father upon their separation, "If you love me, you won't leave me here," according to the new book .
As a student, Diana particularly excelled at piano and ballet, and received a special award for community service, the states.
The teen (with some very '70s denim!) kept a pet pony named "Scuffle." By 1975, she would become Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer.
Right around the time she attended a Swiss finishing school, Diana served as a bridesmaid at her sister Lady Jane Spencer's London wedding. At this point she had already met Prince Charles — when he was dating her other sister, Lady Sarah.
In 1980, the heir apparent started taking a serious interest in the 19-year-old as a potential bride. Diana was living in London at this point, intermittently working as a dance instructor, nanny and nursery assistant. Here she is at her job with Young England Kindergarten school in Pimlico.
The press caught wind of their budding relationship by the fall of that year. When this picture was taken in September, "Shy Di" had allegedly "gently reversed her car into a tree, whilst trying to drive and shield her face from the photographer at the same time."
By , Diana received an invitation to the Queen's own house at Sandringham, sparking further engagement rumors. Here she is leaving her London apartment the week before.
Photographed outside of her flat in December, Lady Diana Spencer was about to become the first Englishwoman in centuries to , and the first one in all of royal history to have a paying job before the engagement.
With a wedding set for July, Lady Diana Spencer kicked back in rubber boots and a casual sweater while at the Scottish royal residence Balmoral.
Crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the future princess during a visit to Tetbury on May 22, 1981.
The media frequently followed Diana in the summer days leading up the wedding. Here she is in Windsor after the Ascot races on June 16, 1981.
The constant press attention wore down on Diana. At one polo match that July, "the persistence of the paparazzi" caused the 20-year-old to start crying, the reported at the time. With her wedding only a few days away, her life in the spotlight had officially begun.