Princess Diana was so young when she married into the royal family.
John Minihan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Sweet, Funny Photos Show A Young Princess Diana Before She Was A Royal

So lovely.

It’s difficult to imagine how young Lady Diana Spencer was when she became Princess Diana. Just 20 years old when she married 32-year-old Prince Charles, heir to the throne. Such a massive responsibility and enormous change in lifestyle for someone so young. Barely the whisper of a chance to become an adult, as evidenced by these pre-royal photos of Princess Diana living her very best life. But even all these years later, the joyful enthusiasm she clearly felt just being alive is palpable in those photos. She only lived to be 36 years old, but she made an indelible mark on the world around her in the short time that she had. Before she was a royal and beyond.

Lady Diana Frances Spencer was born in 1961 at Park House, a home her family rented from Queen Elizabeth on her Sandringham Estate. She was the youngest daughter of Earl Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd, and as a young woman she worked as a kindergarten assistant at the Young England school in Pimlico.

Not for long, of course. By the time she was 20 years old, she was married to Prince Charles. She would go on to welcome her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, by the time she was 23 years old.

Before all that, she was simply Diana. A young woman with a whole life ahead of her.

Baby On A Blanket

Princess Diana as a baby.Hulton Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

Please enjoy this adorable photo of Diana on a blanket at her family’s home as a baby.

Sweet Faced Toddler

Diana Spencer as a little girl.Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images

Diana Spencer was just three years old when this photo was taken at her family home, and she could not be any cuter if she tried.

Stylish School Girl

Princess Diana as a little girl.Fox Photos/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

In 1969, Diana Spencer looked pleased as punch to be heading off to school in her matching dress and headband.

A Princess & Her Pony

Princess Diana with her pony.Hulton Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

Diana was living the dream of so many 14-year-old girls, just hanging out with her own pony. Whose name was “Scuffle.”

Rocking A Wide-Brimmed Hat

Princess Diana on holiday.Central Press/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

Look at the confidence of a young Lady Diana Spencer rocking a wide-brimmed hat on holiday in West Sussex. Destined for greatness.

Innate Love Of Kids

Diana Spencer was a kindergarten helper.Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Diana Spencer was just 19 years old and working as a kindergarten helper when she caught the eye of Prince Charles. Even then, she clearly loved working with kids.

Composure Of A Queen

Diana Spencer in 1980.John Minihan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Despite being immediately thrown into the spotlight by the paparazzi in 1980, often alone on the street, Diana Spencer held it together. Far better than most, in my opinion.

A Nanny & A Lady

Diana Spencer was a nanny.Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

In the months leading up to her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana Spencer was busy working as a nanny.

Teacher’s Helper

Diana Spencer in a sweater vest in 1980.Hulton Deutsch/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

Diana Spencer wore a sweater vest and a wide-eyed look of innocence working as a kindergarten helper at St. George’s Square.

She’s Over It

Diana Spencer in 1980.Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

As she was trying to work at the school in 1980, Diana Spencer already looked like she was over the media attention. Which was bad news since she was still just dating Prince Charles at the time.

Looking Uncomfortable

Diana Spencer with Camilla Parker-Bowles in 1980.PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles watched Prince Charles compete in the Amateur Riders Handicap Steeplechase in 1980, and the young woman looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Too Young For Such Troubles

Diana Spencer having a bad day in 1980.PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

During her outing with Camilla Parker-Bowles, Diana Spencer was photographed leaning her head against a railing, looking forlorn.

Followed Everywhere

Diana Spencer being followed by the press.PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Diana Spencer found herself followed everywhere by the press once word got out she was dating Prince Charles, and it looks like she was left alone to deal with it all.

Quel Comedic Timing

Diana Spencer had a strong sense of comedic timing.Tom Stoddart Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As she was trying to slip past members of the media and hop in her car for a clean getaway, Diana stalled her car. And the face she made was pure comedic genius.

Handling It On Her Own

Diana Spencer in 1980.Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

As the soon-to-be-fiancee of Prince Charles, 19-year-old Diana Spencer appeared to be left to her own devices with the media. Like here when she was asked to be interviewed by the Sunday Mirror.

That Smile Speaks Volumes

Diana Spencer looking happy to be engaged.Anwar Hussein/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

When Diana Spencer and Prince Charles announced their engagement in Feb. 1981, she was utterly beaming with joy.

A Glimmer Of The People’s Princess

Newly engaged Diana Spencer chats with a young fan.Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

After her engagement to Prince Charles, Diana gave royal watchers a preview of the princess to come. Someone with empathy, who always makes time for children as she did on a visit to Tetbury in May 1981.

Keeping It Light

Diana Spencer looking cool at Balmoral in 1981.Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

During a photocall at Balmoral in Scotland before their wedding in 1981, Diana kept it cool and casual with a fun sweater and rubber boots.

Silly Faces In Scotland

Diana Spencer goofing around with the future king.Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

On her honeymoon at Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish estate of Balmoral in 1981, she was still new to being a royal with all of the strict rules such a role entails. New enough that she was still mugging for the camera.

The Honeymoon Begins

Diana Spencer shared a laugh with Prince Charles in 1981.Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

As she and her new husband Prince Charles left Gibraltar for their honeymoon cruise, Diana Spencer looked to be in high spirits. Ready to start her life as a princess, a mother, and ultimately a legend who lives on for her kind heart and empathy decades later.