Once upon a time, there was a little girl who learned she had been expected to be a little boy. So intent were her parents on a son that they failed to prepare for the possibility of her appearance, and she had to wait till the week after her birth to receive her full name: Diana Frances Spencer. Two older sisters (and the brother who eventually arrived) would have royal godparents, but her father and mother chose commoners to swear their faith for her at the baptismal font.

Her first memory was of plastic, a warm synthetic smell touched off by...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!