Princess Diana, the people's princess, was a mother, a humanitarian, and a woman, and she balanced between all three roles that summer.
Princess Diana's last ever summer was ironically the first one she had after her divorce, which was finalized in 1996. After spending time picking up the pieces of her broken heart, the princess had embarked on a new journey. She had retained her office in the Kensington Palace and her charitable work was supposed to go on. That summer, she traveled around the world for humanitarian reasons, but also for the reasons of the heart.
The princess made sure that her love for ballet, humanitarian causes, and her sons took precedence. She had also found love again and tried to explore her new friendship with Dodi Al-Fayed, the scion of an Egyptian business-owner. Unfortunately, both Al-Fayed and she perished in the fatal car crash in Paris in 1997. Before she died, every step taken by the Princess of Wales was towards an independent life doing the things she loved most.
The princess, who had been involved in fundraising for many charities, visited Lahore, Pakistan to help raise money for a cancer clinic that was being set up by her friend, former-Pakistani cricket star, now the prime minister of the country, Imran Khan, according to GoodHouseKeeping. Years later, in October 2019, Khan welcomed her son, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine, to his Islamabad home. He told the prince the effect of the princess's death had on the people of Pakistan -- "the impact it had on the people shocked me", according to CNN. "I think it was important for him to know how much she was loved in this country," the politician added.
Diana, a lover of ballet, having performed once herself for her former husband, raised thousands of pounds for the English National Ballet. It was the only non-humanitarian charity that she picked to support. She even met with the members of the cast of Swan Lake at Royal Albert Hall in London, according to GoodHouseKeeping. Around two weeks after that, she met Mother Teresa in New York. The nun had been very ill when the meeting took place and she passed away in India, just a few days after Diana's crash.
Later that month, Diana attended a gala party in New York to launch an auction of some of her iconic dresses. As many as 79 dresses owned by the princess were auctioned raising $3.25 million for her charity work, according to the New York Times. One of the iconic pieces sold was the Victor Edelstein blue velvet gown that Diana wore during a dance with John Travolta at the White House. It sold for $222,500.
Instead of having a birthday party on her 36th birthday, the princess attended the 100th-anniversary celebration of the Tate Gallery in London on July 1, 1997. Her birthday was a reflection of who she was as a person, forever worried about bettering the world. It was also one of the happiest days of life because her youngest son, Prince Harry, had gathered some of his classmates to sing "Happy Birthday" to her over the telephone. The beautiful princess also received 90 bouquets of flowers that day, according to The Diana Chronicles via Vanity Fair.
Around three weeks after her birthday, the mother-of-two went on a trip with her sons, William and Harry, to vacation in St. Tropez in the South of France. The family lived in a 30-bedroom villa, Castle St. Therese, owned by Al-Fayed's family, according to the Daily Express. The couple spent more time there that summer before going to Paris, where it all ended. That month, the princess also attended the memorial service of her friend fashion designer Gianni Versace.
In August, the princess made one of the most storied visits of her life to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. A spokesperson of the fight against landmines, she continued her work her during the three-day visit. It was on that trip where she was photographed comforting a mother, who was crying at her son's grave. Apparently, she made her car stop, took a stroll and when she found the lone mother weeping, she reached out immediately and held her as the inconsolable mother released her sorrow leaning on the Princess' shoulders. It was during this trip, Diana met landmine victims and rehabilitation specialists.
Towards the end of the month, she was reportedly seen on a cruise on a yacht owned by Al-Fayed's family. The couple had traveled together to Sardinia before flying to Paris on Saturday, August 30, the day of the accident.
Unfortunately, she was taken too soon and her bright life was cut short. Her sons still feel her loss and are now trying to make sure that their children know who their iconic grandma was.