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Princess Diana

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Princess Diana is the biography of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, who died at the age of 36 in 1997. The book explains how her ‘fairy-tale romance’ with Charles, Prince of Wales, went wrong and how she eventually freed herself from the Royal Family and started to lead an independent life. We learn of the contribution that Diana made to Britain and the world and the lessons which her life can teach us all.
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Teacher’s notes
LEVEL 3
PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme
Princess Diana
Cherry Gilchrist
house in Althorp and her father married again. After she
graduated, Diana spent a few months in Switzerland and
returned to London. Her father bought her a flat and she
started working at Young England School.
Chapters 2–3
Though Diana had known Charles for a long time, they
started seeing each other in 1980, after they met at a
country house party. When the press found out that
Charles had a new girlfriend, paparazzi started following
her everywhere and in 1981, when the marriage was
imminent, Diana moved to Clarence House. She soon
found that Charles was still in close contact with his
former girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles. The paparazzi
About the author
and royal life overwhelmed her, and she started losing
Cherry Gilchrist was born in 1949 and now lives in
weight. In the meantime, people were enthusiastic about
Bristol, England. She is an expert on social history and
the ‘fairy-tale marriage’, which led a million people to the
has written educational books on English life during the
streets of London and was watched on TV by millions of
First World War and in the 1930s. She has also written
people all over the world.
stories for children and is well known for re-telling
Diana gradually became used to public appearances,
traditional stories and legends. Cherry Gilchrist also
and was soon more popular than her husband. In 1982,
writes and lectures on myths, symbolism and ancient
William, her first son, was born. The following year,
wisdom. She has written several books on alchemy and
Diana made her first big public journey with Charles and,
astrology, including Planetary Symbolism in Astrology and
in contrast to the traditions of the Royal Family, she took
The Elements of Alchemy. She is interested in Russian art
her baby with her. In 1984, Harry, her second child, was
and culture and arranges exhibitions and sales of Russian
born. By 1987, when the children started school, Diana
traditional arts and crafts.
was a ‘busy princess, wife and mother’, actively working
Gilchrist loves to travel. She has a home in Russia and has
with charities.
visited many parts of Asia and the Middle East.
Chapters 4–5
Summary
Although Diana’s life looked perfect, she was far from
happy. She suffered a serious eating disorder and in 1982,
Princess Diana is the biography of Diana Spencer, Princess
during her first pregnancy, she tried to kill herself for the
of Wales, who died at the age of 36 in 1997. The book
first time. After the baby was born, she would sometimes
explains how her ‘fairy-tale romance’ with Charles, Prince
inflict wounds on herself. Her marriage had failed and she
of Wales, went wrong and how she eventually freed herself
felt alone and devastated. Charles was still seeing Camilla
from the Royal Family and started to lead an independent
and showed no interest in her. In 1988, while Diana
life. We learn of the contribution that Diana made to
and Charles were in Switzerland on holiday, one of their
Britain and the world and the lessons which her life can
friends died in an accident. Diana helped his pregnant
teach us all.
widow overcome the grief, and found it was time to also
Chapter 1
help herself. She had her eating disorder treated and
Diana was born into a family that has been close to the
became more active in her charity work. Already separated
Crown since the times of Charles II. She grew up in Park
from Charles though not yet divorced, at home there was
House, near the Queen’s house in Sandringham. When
war between her and the Royal Family.
she was six, her mother left with Peter Shand Kydd, whom
In 1992 her father’s death was followed first by Andrew
she later married. Her father refused to let the children go
Morton’s book Diana – Her True Story, which made public
with her, so Diana would see her mother at weekends or
both her eating disorder and Charles’s affair with Camilla,
on holiday. In 1970 she went away to school. A few years
and then by the tabloid newspapers publishing private
later her grandparents died, the family moved to their
telephone conversations between Diana and James Gilbey
c Pearson Education Limited 2008
Princess Diana - Teacher’s notes
 of 3

Teacher’s notes
LEVEL 3
PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme
Princess Diana
which showed they were lovers. Little is known about
a princess in the modern world should behave. Diana’s
her life at this time, but it was clear she was seeing other
open and informal style is contrasted with the more rigid
men. In 1993, private conversations between Charles and
traditions of the British Royal Family.
Camilla were made public. Harassed by paparazzi, Diana
Celebrities’ right to privacy: The author also describes
told the press that she wanted to live quietly, and in 1995
the intrusion of the press into Diana’s private life and
she made her famous appearance on TV where she said
raises the question of the extent to which the public is
that she wanted to be ‘the Queen of people’s hearts’.
entitled to know about the personal lives of celebrities.
Chapter 6
This is an issue which has remained at the forefront of
In 1996, Diana finally divorced. She continued to
public debate since Diana’s death.
work with charities and focused on stopping the use of
A fulfilling life: In her conclusion the author looks at the
landmines. In July 1997 she went on holiday with her
importance that helping others and being open can have
children and the Al Fayeds, a rich Muslim family who
in achieving a fulfilling life, however short that life might
had been friends of the Spencers for a long time. During
be.
the holiday she started a romance with Dodi Al Fayed.
Paparazzi were so frantically following them on their
Discussion activities
first holiday alone that they decided to return to Paris on
August 30th. That night, after they had dinner at the Ritz
Before reading
1 Discussion: Tell students: Look at the photographs of
Hotel, owned by Dodi’s father, they were trying to escape
Diana in the book. Can you tell how she felt at different
from paparazzi when their car, driven at over 160 km an
points in her life? Why do you think so?
hour, crashed against a pillar. Both Dodi and Diana died
Chapter 1, pages 1–6
in the accident. Britain and the world were shocked by the
Before reading
news. By the time of her funeral, on September 6, there
2 Discuss: ask students: What do you know about
was a sea of flowers in front of Kensington Palace. Her
Princess Diana’s childhood?
body now lies on an island in a lake in the gardens of her
After reading
family house in Althorp.
3 Discussion and group work: Students discuss
Background and themes
weather Diana’s childhood was similar to or different
from a non-royal child. In groups, they look for
During the 1980s and 1990s, Diana, Princess of Wales
details that support their ideas.
was one of the world’s most glamorous and famous figures.
4 Read carefully and write: Tell students: Look at
Few people, however, knew the real person behind the
page 2. What does Diana remember about Christmas
when she was a girl? Imagine a letter she wrote to Santa

media image. It is this real person that the book examines.
Clause and write it.
Broken families: Princess Diana shows how the many
5 Role play: Divide the class into pairs. Tell them:
painful experiences Diana had to endure as a child of a
Students A: You are Johnnie Spencer. The woman who
looks after the children wants to leave. Try to convince

broken marriage influenced her. The effect of childhood
her to stay. Students B: You look after the Spencer
experience on the adult is an important feature of the text.
children. Tell Johnnie Spencer why you want to leave.
Motherhood and work as self-help: Cherry Gilchrist also
6 Write: Students write the CV Diana wrote when she
decided to look for a job.
shows how easily marriages can be built on illusions and
7 Research: Have students search the Internet for
the terrible cost that has to be paid when these illusions
videos of Diana’s childhood. They try to identify who
are shattered. The author is frank about Diana’s disastrous
the people in the videos are and how the images relate
marriage, her illnesses and suicide attempts, the affairs,
to the story told in Chapter 1.
and the ultimate bitterness between her and Charles. A
Chapters 2–3, pages 6–20
key theme is the part Diana’s two sons and her charity
Before reading
work played in helping her to form a new role for herself
8 Guess: Logical puzzle
after her divorce in 1996.

Tell students: Diana had many encounters with the
paparazzi in her life. In the coming chapters you will

Royal families in the modern world: One other major
read about the first ones. On the board write these 4
theme that the book examines is the question of how
events and the people she was with.
c Pearson Education Limited 2008
Princess Diana - Teacher’s notes
2 of 3

Teacher’s notes
LEVEL 3
PENGUIN READERS
Teacher Support Programme
Princess Diana

a The paparazzi took a photograph that showed
After reading
Diana’s legs. / b Diana went to Australia to rest from
12 Check answers to activity 11.
the paparazzi’s photographs and calls. / c the paparazzi
13 Debate: Tell students: Cherry Gilchrist suggests that age
called Diana at night. / d Diana hid from the
difference was a problem for Diana and Charles. Do you
paparazzi behind a tree.
agree? (page 22). Divide the students into two groups

1 She was with her mother. / 2 She was with Charles.
and tell them to support these statements: Group A:
/ 3 She was with friends. / 4 She was alone.
Age is not important if there is love. Group B: Love is

The students use the following information to answer
not enough if there is a big age difference.
the questions: Who she was with in each event? and In
14 Research and discussion: Tell students that Diana’s
what order did the events happen?. The sentences can
eating disorder is called bulimia, and is associated
be read out to them.
with low self-esteem. Divide them into groups and

Diana went to Australia with one person, after the
have them do an Internet search and prepare short
photograph.
oral reports on this illness. After the presentations,

In the third event, Diana was not with her friends.
students discuss what they think led Diana to

The paparazzi didn’t know who Diana was when she
bulimia.
hid behind the tree.
15 Role play: Students work in pairs. Tell them:

When the paparazzi got her name, they began to
Student A: You are Carolyn. You are worried because
phone her.
the newspapers are talking about Diana’s affairs with

Charles couldn’t help her with the calls because he
other men. Student B. You are Diana. You feel lonely
wasn’t there.
and want somebody to love you. Students role play their

Charles didn’t go to Australia with Diana.
conversations.

When Diana hid behind a tree, she was with one
person.
Chapter 6, pages 31–38

Diana accepted the photograph to stop the calls.
After reading
16 Debate: Put the students into two groups.
After reading

Group A are members of the government and
9 Read carefully, discuss and research: Ask students:
they want to pass a law to make the paparazzi’s
Why is ‘English rose’ between quotation marks on
photographs of famous people’s private lives illegal.
page 15? Tell them that Bernie Taupin and Elton John
Group B oppose this and think the paparazzi’s
wrote the song Candle in the Wind for Diana. On the
photographs should be legal. After the debate,
blackboard, write this stanza: ‘Goodbye England’s rose
students vote for or against the law.
/ May you ever grow in our hearts / You were the
17 Discussion: Ask the class to look again at the last few
grace that placed itself / Where lives were torn apart /
paragraphs on page 37 and to make a list of what they
Goodbye England’s rose / From a country lost
think ‘doing the best with the time we have’ means.
without your soul / Who’ll miss the wings of your
Write the ideas on the board. Students put the ideas
compassion / More than you’ll ever know’
in the order of importance for them.

a Students discuss what aspects of Diana’s life this
stanza makes reference to.
After reading

b Students search the Internet for videos of Elton
Project
John singing the song and find out when he sang
18 A publicity campaign for a tribute on TV.
it.

A TV channel will screen a one-hour special tribute
10 Discuss: Ask students: What did Diana do that helped
to Princess Diana on the anniversary of her death.
people with AIDS? Do you think this action was helpful
Students are the team in charge of the publicity
because it was Princess Diana? Do famous people have
campaign. The programme will have 6 blocks:
more responsibility for helping others than ordinary
opening, Diana’s childhood, her private adult life, her
people? Do royal families have more responsibility than
public life, her death, and the conclusion.
other famous people? Why? Why not?

Group work and artwork: Students design
Chapters 4–5, pages 20–31
advertisements for the programme for newspapers,
magazines and billboards. The ads should focus on
Before reading
the different aspects of Diana’s life that the
11 Guess: Tell students: These are lines from the coming
programme will deal with, and be aimed at making
chapters. Who do you think is speaking to whom? What
readers curious.
is happening? Students discuss their ideas in groups.

a ‘Something inside me died.’
Vocabulary activities

b ‘I’ll give you an hour. If you don’t go to a doctor,
For the Word List and vocabulary activities, go to
I’ll tell the world about your illness.’
www.penguinreaders.com.

c ‘How many times have you tried to kill yourself ?’

d ‘Is it all right if I touch your face?’
c Pearson Education Limited 2008
Princess Diana - Teacher’s notes
3 of 3

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