Princess Diana’s Final Summer

By the summer of 1997, Princess Diana was embracing a new phase of her life. In the wake of her divorce from Prince Charles the previous year, the 36-year-old royal began the season by selling off 79 gowns from her famed wardrobe with a high-profile auction at Christie’s in Manhattan, with the proceeds benefiting several charities important to her, including the AIDS Crisis Trust. That moment of transition illustrated a metamorphosis from “Shy Di” of the Eighties to that of a self-assured woman embracing an identity outside The Firm.
Comfort level aside, Diana was acutely aware of her star power throughout her public life. The princess used her world-famous image for photo ops both championing philanthropic causes and tacitly addressing personal matters (think: the little black “Revenge” dress by Christina Stambolian she wore at the moment the Prince of Wales publicly admitted marital infidelity with Camilla Parker Bowles). By July of her last summer, Diana was dating Egyptian playboy Dodi Al Fayed — son of Harrods’ then-owner, the controversial Mohamed Al Fayed — causing tabloid photographers to swarm the couple at every opportunity, including a seaside holiday in St. Tropez with her young sons, Princes William and Harry.
A summer of charitable visits to

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