Princess Diana's last birthday: Prince Harry's friends sang her happy birthday over phone
Princess Diana turned 36 on July 1, 1997. At the time, she was just starting her new life outside the British royal family.
The Princess of Wales was throwing herself into charity work around the globe as it had been nearly a year since her divorce from Prince Charles had been finalized. A day before her 36th birthday, Vanity Fair had published an article in which she had spoken about how she was looking forward to "rebuilding" her life. “Nothing gives me more pleasure now than being able to love and help those in our society who are vulnerable,” she told the publication. Within a few weeks of her 36th birthday, however, she tragically died in a car accident in Paris on August 31, the South China Morning Post reported.
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Diana would have celebrated her 60th birthday this year. While there's no doubt that it would have been a major bash, here's a glimpse at how the "people's princess" celebrated her last birthday.
"Princess Diana didn’t really want to celebrate her birthdays, it meant another year older,” Princess Diana’s former chef Darren McGrady told Hello! magazine. He noted, however, that her birthday was always a busy day, “not from a culinary aspect but all of her charities and friends sending flowers."
No fewer than 90 bouquets of flowers were received at Kensington Palace that year, per Tina Brown’s 2007 biography The Diana Chronicles. Princess Diana was to attend a charity event that night, before which a special package from fashion designer Jacques Azagury arrived at the palace — a beautiful black beaded gown for her birthday.
Having said that, the most special moment of Diana's last birthday was probably the phone call she received from Prince Harry, her youngest son, who was attending boarding school at Ludgrove at the time. The young prince, aged just 12 at the time, called his mother and had his school friends sing Happy Birthday over the phone. On the eve of her birthday, Diana was welcomed as the guest of honor at the 100th anniversary of the Tate Gallery in London. The crowds present, as well as the cameras, were enamored by her now-iconic Azagury gown paired with an emerald and diamond choker, SCMP reported.
That night, the princess rubbed shoulders with the likes of Carole Bouquet and Iman and Steve Martin, as well as Prince Charles’ cousin Viscount Linley and Lady Helen Taylor. Family members were also present.
Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, recalled the occasion at her funeral in September 1997. “The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honor at a special charity fundraising evening. She sparkled, of course," he remembered.
There is much anticipation around the unveiling of Princess Diana's life-size statue at the Kensington Palace, scheduled on July 1, 2021. The occasion is speculated to mend the rift between Princes William and Harry. However, there is little hope that the brothers will let bygones be bygones and come together to celebrate their late mother on her birthday.