Every July 1—the birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales—photographs of the late royal emerge across the news, social media, and pop culture platforms, a visual ode to the royal and public figure who touched the lives of so many. After all, during her life, Diana was known for her impactful image-making: a photo of her shaking hands with an AIDS patient in London, for example, helped de-stigmatize the disease during the height of hysteria around it, while a picture of her walking through a landmine field in Angola helped raise worldwide awareness for the human rights issue. Then, there are the pictures that epitomize glamour and, well, scandal: take the little black frock Diana wore out after Prince Charles admitted to an affair on national television, cemented now in pop culture as the “revenge dress.” (It even has its own Wikipedia page.) Or consider her wedding dress, complete with puff sleeves and a 25-foot train.
Even 26 years after her death, new photos of Princess Diana continue to emerge: on March 4, 2022, two white-gloved curators hung a rarely-seen portrait of the late Princess of Wales, by David Bailey, on the walls of Kensington Palace. The black-and-white portrait is striking in its minimalism, showing simply the profile of Diana staring steadfastly ahead. A new view of the Princess, added to the cultural canon.
Now, with the sixth and final season of The Crown airing on Netflix, viewers have been brought up to the early 21st century of the royal family’s history, including the tragedy of Diana’s death. Split between two volumes, this season continues to follow Queen Elizabeth II’s reign while exploring Prince Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles following his divorce from Diana, as well as the latter’s romantic involvement with Dodi Fayed. (The second half of the season, to be released in December, will also introduce the early days of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance.)
Beyond being a style icon, Diana was known and loved for her ability to connect with the public. The people’s princess remains adored through her fashion ensembles, public service, and steadfast strength. Below, in addition to Bailey’s portrait, we revisit some of the most famous snaps taken of the late Princess of Wales.