To Our Readers: Sep. 15, 1997

Rarely has an individual captured our imagination and held our gaze as singularly as Princess Diana. We were introduced to her in 1980 when the shy kindergarten teacher linked to Prince Charles stepped gingerly into the spotlight in a diaphanous skirt. Since we began tracking her unique style and popularity in an April 20, 1981 cover story, TIME has put Diana on its cover eight times, more than any other royal--including Queen Elizabeth, who was Woman of the Year in 1953.

In that first cover, we recognized that the glow about Lady Diana Spencer was not a trick of the light...

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