Pop Culture | Celebrities | 90s

She Was "The People's Princess," But 20 Years After Her Death We Finally Understand Just How Tragic Her Life Was

Everyone in the '90s remembers the night our world was rocked - the day the “People’s Princess” died in a car accident in Paris, France. Princess Diana was loved not only by the people of the United Kingdom but around the world.

Princess Diana’s funeral was named to be the most-watched live TV event with 31 million viewers in the UK and 33 million people in the United States tuning in.

While her funeral took place only six days after her tragic death on August 31, 1997, people haven’t forgotten the story of her life, and what lead her to be on that dark road in Paris the night of her death.

Few people knew the truth about Princess Diana's marriage. In 1991, Prince Charles had rekindled his relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles and Princess Diana was suffering from an eating disorder trying to cope with her life as a Royal.

Diana and Charles met in 1977 when the Prince was dating her older sister, Sarah. He ended the relationship with Sarah and he and Diana began courting in 1980 when she was just 19 years old.

Proposing to Diana in February 1981, they married in July of that same year.

"I was very, very calm, deathly calm. I felt I was a lamb to the slaughter. I knew it and couldn't do anything about it. My last night of freedom with Jane at Clarence House," she said.

It all started just 2 days before their fairy tale wedding that took place in front of a global audience of 750 million people.

"We got married on Wednesday. On the Monday [July 27, 1981], we had gone to St Paul's for our last rehearsal, and that's when the camera lights were on full and I got a sense of what the day was going to be. And I sobbed my eyes out. I absolutely collapsed and it was because of all sorts of things. The Camilla thing rearing its head the whole way through our engagement," transcripts that Diana made in secret revealed.

Diana struggled with bulimia throughout the couple’s engagement and after their wedding.

“I remember the first time I made myself sick. I was so thrilled because I thought this was the release of tension," Diana said. “The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29 inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23-and-a-half inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July.”

Things didn’t get easier once they were married.

"I was so depressed, and I was trying to cut my wrists with razor blades. It rained and rained and rained. I came down early (to London) to seek treatment, not because I hated Balmoral, but because I was in such a bad way," she said.

The medical professionals she saw put her on high doses of Valium to try and help her cope.

Even the birth of her two children, William and Harry, didn’t make the Princess’s life any easier.

Diana recalled the events of William’s baptism that triggered her depression.

"Nobody asked me when it was suitable for William — 11 o’clock, couldn’t have been worse," Diana said in the transcript. "Endless pictures of the Queen, Queen Mother, Charles and William. I was excluded totally that day. I felt desperate, because I had literally just given birth — William was only six weeks old. And it was all decided around me. Hence the ghastly pictures."

Diana and Charles were officially divorced in 1996 after his affair with Camilla became public. Just one year later, she was in the car accident that ended her life.

It wasn’t just Camilla that Charles had his eye on during his marriage to Diana. In a letter addressed to the wife of the UK Ambassador to Washington, he admitted "I have fallen in love with Mrs Reagan – she is wonderful… I wanted to kiss her."

Charles and the First Lady had a very close relationship that was kept secret for a very long time. The pair, however, exchanged plenty of letters.

“No one can really understand what it all means until it happens to you which is why it all keeps getting worse and worse. One day I will tell you the whole story,” wrote Charles in one of the letters.

It was also rumored that Diana had a high-profile affair of her own. In 1995, three years after her separation from Prince Charles, Diana met John F. Kennedy Jr. in a hotel room overlooking Central Park.

Cosmopolitan / ABC News

"We started talking, one thing led to another - and we ended up in bed. It was pure chemistry," Diana said according to Simone Simmons, Princess Diana’s energy healer.

"My mouth dropped open. I cried out: 'What! You're joking, aren't you?' and I really thought she was. She replied: 'No, I'm not. It happened. And he was an amazing lover - a ten, the tops,'" she said.

Diana was good at keeping her relationships after her divorce out of the public eye, until finding love with Dodi al-Fayed, the millionaire with whom she died in the car accident in Paris.

On the night of her death, her car was being chased by paparazzi through a tunnel in Paris when the driver lost control.

To this day, Prince Harry, who was just 13 years old at the time, still holds anger towards the people who stood by and took pictures of the wreckage.

"I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car," said Harry. "She'd had quite a severe head injury but she was very much still alive on the back seat. And those people that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying on the back seat."

When Xavier Gourmelon and his ten-man team arrived at the scene of the crash, he reportedly heard the Princess’s final words.

“The car was in a mess and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive," he recalled. "Diana said to me, 'My God, what’s happened?’"

Moments after Diana was removed from the wreckage and given oxygen, she went into cardiac arrest.

“I massaged her heart and a few seconds later she started breathing again. It was a relief of course because, as a first responder, you want to save lives — and that’s what I thought I had done," Gourmelon said. “To be honest I thought she would live. As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting."

Diana suffered internal injuries and was pronounced dead at 4 AM that morning. Dodi al-Fayed and driver, Henri Paul were also killed in the crash.

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