How Princess Diana Spent Her Last Birthday in 1997

Princess Diana celebrated her 36th birthday living up to her People's Princess nickname

Diana, Princess Of Wales
Princess Diana. Photo: Justin GoffUK Press via Getty Images

Just two months before a tragic car accident took Princess Diana's life, she spent her final birthday at a gala — but not without taking some time to meet her fans.

The late royal celebrated her 36th birthday on July 1, 1997, in style, attending a gala held in honor of the Tate Gallery's Centenary in London. Princess Diana stunned in a beaded black gown that she received as a birthday gift from her friend, designer Jacques Azagury, accessorizing with a sparkling choker necklace featuring green stones and matching drop earrings.

Diana also made it clear why she was coined "The People's Princess," taking time to greet well-wishers who had gathered outside. They showered her with birthday presents, including cards, flowers and a small pink balloon featuring a cartoon bear.

Diana, Princess Of Wales
Princess Diana.

"Diana had a genius for people," her younger brother, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, previously told PEOPLE. "She could make any person, whether they were the grandest or the most humble feel totally at ease in her company."

Diana, Princess Of Wales
Princess Diana.

Princess Diana's final summer was marked by a trip to the U.S., where she gave a speech at a Red Cross-hosted gala for victims of land mines and met Hillary Clinton, and a visit to Bosnia to work with the Land Mine Campaign. She also vacationed in St. Tropez with her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed and her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Diana, Princess Of Wales
Princess Diana.

After spending nine days with Al Fayed vacationing in the French and Italian Rivera, the couple arrived in Paris on August 30. Just a few hours later, both Diana and Dodi were killed in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel, driving from the Hotel Ritz Paris to another apartment in the city.

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Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. Getty(2)

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Diana's legacy has lived on in her sons, from their charity work to their efforts to keep her memory alive.

"I certainly hope and believe everything I do makes her proud," Prince Harry told PEOPLE exclusively in April 2022. "In the 12 short years I was lucky enough to have with her, I saw and felt the energy and lift she got from helping others, no matter their background, ailment or status. Her life and theirs was better for it, however short theirs or hers was."

He added, "I honor my mother in everything I do. I am my mother's son."

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